PlayStation 4 system software

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PlayStation 4 system software
PlayStation 4 logo and wordmark.svg
PlayStation 4 System Software Screenshot.png
Operating system and user interface of the PlayStation 4
Developer Sony Interactive Entertainment
OS family FreeBSD (BSD)[1]
Working state Current
Source model Closed source
Initial release October 15, 2013; 3 years ago (2013-10-15)[2]
Latest release 4.71 / June 22, 2017; 1 day ago (2017-06-22)[3]
Available in Danish, German, English (United Kingdom), English (United States), Spanish (Latin America), Spanish (Spain), French (Canada), French (France), Italian, Dutch, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese (Brazil), Portuguese (Portugal), Russian, Finnish, Swedish, Turkish, Arabic, Japanese, Korean, Simplified Chinese, Traditional Chinese[4]
Update method Direct download
Game Disc
Download to USB
Platforms PlayStation 4
Kernel type Modular
Default user interface PlayStation Dynamic Menu[5]
Preceded by PlayStation 3 (system software)
Official website

The PlayStation 4 system software is the updatable firmware and operating system of the PlayStation 4.

The operating system is Orbis OS, based on FreeBSD 9.

Technology[edit]

System[edit]

The native operating system of the PlayStation 4 is Orbis OS, which is a fork of FreeBSD version 9.0 which was released on January 12, 2012.[6][7]

The PlayStation 4 features two graphics APIs, a low level API named GNM and a high level API named GNMX. Most people start with the GNMX API which wraps around GNM and manages the more esoteric GPU details in a way that's a lot more familiar if users are used to platforms like Direct3D 11. The developers of The Crew put a lot of work into the move to the lower-level GNM, and in the process the tech team found out just how much work DirectX does in the background in terms of memory allocation and resource management.[8]

Another key area of the game is its programmable pixel shaders.[8] Sony's own PlayStation Shader Language (PSSL) was introduced on the PlayStation 4.[9] It has been suggested[by whom?] that the PlayStation Shader Language is very similar indeed to the HLSL standard in DirectX 11, with just subtle differences that were eliminated for the most part through preprocessor macros.[8]

Besides the kernel and related components, other components included and worth mentioning are Cairo, jQuery, Lua, Mono, OpenSSL, WebKit, and the Pixman rendering library. Many of these are open-source software, although the PlayStation 4 is not an open console.[7][10]

The Software Development Kit (SDK) is based on LLVM and Clang. Sony is using LLVM/Clang as its PlayStation 4 CPU compiler due to its highly conformant C and C++ front-ends, great C++11 support, excellent diagnostic messages, fast compilation times, and excellent code generation. According to Sony, game developers are loving the compiler toolchain except when it comes to the area of debugging.[11]

Graphical shell[edit]

The PlayStation 4 uses the PlayStation Dynamic Menu as its graphical shell,[12][13][14] in contrast to the XrossMediaBar (XMB) used by the PlayStation Portable and PlayStation 3, as well as the LiveArea used by the PlayStation Vita and PlayStation TV. It is named "Dynamic Menu" because the options it offers to players are context sensitive, changing based on what a player is actually doing with their PlayStation 4 at any given time. This makes navigation simpler than the previous iteration. This dynamic menu can alter itself so that there's as little time as possible between the users placing a game in the disc tray and the actual gameplay beginning.[15]

PlayStation 4's user interface attempts simplicity as a priority. The main place for entertainment options, the Content area, is prominently displayed with large square icons on a horizontal line arranged by the most recently used. Users can scroll through this gamer newsfeed in an alternating, brick-like formation reminiscent of social media site Pinterest. Many other main objects will display additional information when having the cursor selected on them. A game may have news updates or advertisements for its downloadable content. Recently played games receive tiles along with a number of mandatory items like the Live from PlayStation and the Internet Browser applications. Content icon customization and options on how to sort them would give players a way to mold the display to better suit their needs.[16]

Augmented Reality[edit]

The augmented reality application, the PlayRoom comes pre-installed with the PlayStation 4 console. It was demonstrated at E3 2013 and utilizes the Sony PlayStation Camera technology. According to Sony, it is a "fantastically fresh augmented reality entertainment experience", which has been created by combining the light orb located on the front of DualShock 4 controller with the PlayStation Camera. Players are allowed to produce a small floating robot called Asobi, who interacts with the players, scans their faces and shoots fireballs. Once the PlayStation Camera identifies the player with the help of the light bar on the front, a flick on the touchpad of the DualShock 4 controller brings up the augmented reality Bots function of PlayRoom, which creates the illusion that there are hundreds of little bots inside the controller, which can be released simply with a tap on the track pad that functions like the PlayStation Vita. PS4 owners can even view their smartphone or PlayStation Vita for drawing the object and flick it anywhere for the augmented reality Bots to play with.

Remote Play and second screen[edit]

Through Remote Play users can operate their PS4 through the uses of a PlayStation Vita handheld game console, allowing for the play of PS4 games and other media on the small device via streaming.[17] All games except exceptions that require the PlayStation Move or PlayStation Camera are compatible.[18]

Second screen can be used to display unique content when playing games that support this option, but it should not be confused with split screen. The second screen may be used to show extra contents for example maps, alternate camera angles, radar or even playbooks in sports games. Apart from PlayStation Vita, other mobile devices such as iPad or Android tablet can also be used as second screen.[19] That comes in the form of both the official PlayStation App and game companion apps such as Knack's Quest.[17]

Social features[edit]

A heavy emphasis on social features has been placed on the PlayStation 4 console, loading up the PS4 with a number of share-centric apps and features. The [What's New] feature, which allows users to check out their friends' latest activities via a landing page full of their pictures, trophies and other recent events, is an easy way to find out what friends have been up to. On the other hand, a cross-chat feature dubbed [Party Chat] is an interesting way to keep in touch. This gives gamers the ability to chat with other users whether or not they're playing the same title.

The PS4's sharing capabilities adds another layer to console gaming. PS4 owners are able to capture or livestream the gameplay with a simple button touch. They can record up to 60 minutes of their latest gaming exploits with a quick press of the Share button on the controller. Footage can be shared on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. They also have the ability to broadcast their gameplay in real time to Twitch and Ustream in addition to recording videos.[20]

There are also other social features such as community creation. Some of them are introduced via system updates. Favorite Groups is a new section within the Friends app, and acts as a way to quickly access other people a user plays with most. This feature is aimed at making it easier and faster to get into a game session with friends. On the other hand, communities are new hubs that can be formed around shared interests like games, activities, or play styles. There also exist other smaller social features on PS4, such as the ability to message a friend with a request to watch their gameplay live.[21]

Internet features[edit]

While the PlayStation 4 console can function without an Internet connection at all, it will provide more functionality when it is connected to the Internet.[22] For example, updates to the system software may be downloaded from Internet, and users may play online when the Internet is properly connected. Online play is a main pillar for the PlayStation 4, but a PlayStation Plus subscription will be required to play the majority of PS4 titles online, unlike PlayStation 3 titles. According to Sony, they are developing many new ways to play and connect for PS4 which requires a large investment of resources. As a result, they cannot keep such a service free and maintain its quality at the same time considering the cost, and they thus decided that it would be better to charge a fee in order to continue to offer a good service.[23]

The web browser included in the PlayStation 4 console is based on the open source WebKit layout engine, unlike the PlayStation 3 which uses the NetFront browser.[24] Using the same modern Webkit core as Safari from Apple, the PS4 web browser receives a very high score in HTML5 compliance testing.[25] However, it does not support Adobe Flash, which means that websites which require Flash might not display properly or function as intended. Also, the PDF format is not supported. However, one clear advantage for gamers is being able to cut between gaming and browsing and back again with no loss of gameplay due to the multitasking feature of the web browser.[26] The PS4 web browser also has limited support for USB Keyboards, but it does not seem to support USB mice at all.[27]

Furthermore, with Internet connection enabled the PlayStation 4 allows users to access a variety of PlayStation Network (PSN) services, including the PlayStation Store, PlayStation Plus subscription service, and more. Users may download or buy games and other contents from these services. Also, gamers are able to play a selection of PS3 titles via the Internet-based PlayStation Now gaming service.[28]

Multimedia features[edit]

The PlayStation 4 now supports playing both 2D and 3D Blu-Rays and DVDs out of the box, whereas previously a system software update was required. This software update is now standard in new consoles. The system does not support audio CDs currently. Shortly after the consoles launch, Sony partnered with Spotify to bring the music streaming service to the PlayStation 4, including the ability to stream music during the background of any game or application, plus the ability to control music playback via smartphone, computers, etc. This is available for both free and premium subscribers of Spotify.[29] Sony later added Blu-Ray 3D support for the console via a system update.[30]

Users can also use the Media Player application to enjoy videos, photos and music that are saved on USB storage devices or media servers. PS4 may serve as a good portable device for video enjoyment in addition to game playing. The following multimedia file formats are supported,[31] although according to PlayStation support website PS4 could not play all MP4 videos, but only support those MP4 files encoded with H.264/MPEG-4 AVC High Profile (AAC-LC):[32]

  • Videos: MKV, AVI, MP4, MPEG-2 TS, AVCHD (.m2ts, .mts)
  • Photos: JPEG (DCF 2.0/Exif 2.21 compliant), BMP, PNG
  • Music: MP3, AAC (M4A)

Backward compatibility[edit]

The PlayStation 4 was not backward compatible with any games from previous PlayStation consoles at launch. Though PlayStation 4 users cannot play PlayStation 3 games directly, in 2014, the PlayStation Now cloud-based streaming service allowed for the streaming of selected PS3 games.[33][34] In December 2015, Sony added PlayStation 2 backward compatibility and republished some PS2 games such as Dark Cloud and Grand Theft Auto III on the PS4 via the PlayStation Store in the Americas and Europe. Supported PS2 games run via software emulation (upscaled to high definition) on PS4 systems instead of having been remastered.[35][36] Each one has been updated to access various PS4 features, including Trophies, Share Play, Broadcasting, Remote Play and second-screen features. However, the original PS2 game discs, and PS2 Classics re-released for the PS3 are not compatible with the PS4 system.[37][38]

History of updates[edit]

The initial version of the system software for the PlayStation 4 is 1.01 as pre-installed on the original consoles. Support for the Remote Play and second screen experiences were added in version 1.50, which was launched on the same day the PlayStation 4 console itself was released in North America on November 15, 2013. Both features are accessible from the PlayStation Vita console by using its PS4 Link application, and the second screen functionality is also accessible from smartphones and tablets through the PlayStation Mobile app. It is also able to record or share video clips as well as broadcasting gameplay to Twitch.tv or Ustream.[39] It supports Blu-ray and DVD-Video playback, and version 1.60 released on February 4, 2014, improves DVD playback. Version 1.60 also adds support for Pulse Elite wireless headsets.[40] Version 1.70 released on April 30, 2014, adds a number of new features, such as the addition of a rich video editor called ShareFactory that offers users the tools to combine, edit and personalize captured video clips. This update also adds the abilities to share video clips and screenshots while streaming, and to copy video clips and screenshots to USB storage.[41] Version 1.75 released on July 29, 2014, further adds the support for playback of Blu-ray 3D. It also improves the sound quality during 1.5-speed playback with Blu-ray and DVD video.[42] Version 1.76 released on September 2, 2014, came with minor changes and was the last update until version 2.0.[43]

Released on October 28, 2014, version 2.00 is a major upgrade to the PlayStation 4 system software. Among the features introduced is Share Play, which allows PlayStation Plus users to invite an online friend to join their play session via streaming, even if they do not own a copy of the game. Users can pass control of the game entirely to the remote user, or partake in cooperative multiplayer as if they were physically present.[44][45] This version also adds a YouTube app and the ability to upload video clips to YouTube, and users can now play music stored on USB storage devices. Also, with the support for custom themes and the ability to change the background color, users can set themes for home screens and function screens for each user in this version.[46] Version 2.50 released on March 26, 2015, adds a suspend/resume feature to allow players to jump in and out of games with the PS button, and games are suspended in the low-power Rest Mode instead of closing completely. This version also allows the console's hard drive to be backed up or restored to a USB flash drive.[47]

On September 30, 2015, Sony released PS4 update 3.00. It introduced "entirely new features" and user-interface enhancements. Among the new features was the ability to share videos directly to Twitter, a dedicated PlayStation Plus section, tweaks to the interface for streaming on YouTube, improvements to social features such as messages and group creation, and the ability to save screenshots as PNGs. An increase in online storage capacity from 1 GB to 10 GB was also introduced for PlayStation Plus Members. Sony states that this update will create "new ways to connect with friends and players around the world, expanding the social capabilities of the system even further".[48] On April 6, 2016, Sony released PS4 update 3.50, that would enable the PS4 to use Remote Play functionality on Microsoft Windows PCs and on Apple OS X Macs. VG247 reported that the update will allow Remote Play functionality on computers running Windows 8.1, Windows 10, OS X Yosemite, and OS X El Capitan. Furthermore, the article explains that Remote Play will support resolution options of 360p, 540p, and 720p, frame rate options of 30 FPS and 60 FPS, and that one DualShock 4 controller can be connected via the computer's USB port.[49]

On September 13, 2016, Sony released PS4 update 4.00, which added High Dynamic Range (HDR) and home screen folder support, 1080p streaming, tweaks to menus and game info screens for greater overview, and streamlined interfaces.[50][51] On March 9, 2017, Sony released the next major firmware update, version 4.50. The update includes support for installing applications on external hard drives, custom wallpapers, a refined Quick Menu, a simplified notifications list, custom status updates in What's New, and 3D Blu-Ray support for the PlayStation VR.[52]

Version 4.50 includes support for the preloading of game patches, however it is up to the developer to make use of it. The first game to take advantage of this feature is LittleBigPlanet 3.[53]

See also[edit]

Other gaming platforms from Sony:

Other gaming platforms from this generation:

Other gaming platforms from the seventh generation:

References[edit]

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  6. ^ Larabel, Michael (June 23, 2013). "Sony's PlayStation 4 Is Running Modified FreeBSD 9". Phoronix. Archived from the original on June 24, 2013. Retrieved September 14, 2013. 
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External links[edit]