Another key new feature in the PS4 is the Share Button. This allows you to capture screenshots and video of your PS4 gameplay, and upload it to Facebook or Twitter. Up to fifteen minutes of video is recorded automatically, and at the press or holding of this button, you can share any awesome moment that unfolds over your PS4 experiences with your friends and family!… Mostly. Some gameplay can’t be shared at developers’ discretion, mostly when it involves spoilers and the like. In games that are all about competition and score-chasing however, like Resogun, Battlefield 4 or Injustice: Gods Among Us – Ultimate Edition, the Share Button truly is awesome!
One disappointing element to the feature is that you aren’t given the extensive means to doctor and dress up your footage like you can in the competing Xbox One’s Upload Studio. You can’t record voiceover or commentary, and you’re almost limited to just presenting the footage as is, even if your voice can be recorded if you’re speaking over a headset. Still, at least you don’t need PlayStation Plus to use the Share Button, contrary to Upload Studio, which requires an Xbox Live Gold membership. PS4 also records up to fifteen minutes of footage automatically too, whereas the Xbox One PVR only records up to five.
Still, it’s remarkable how easy and surprisingly addictive sharing screenshots and video can be with certain PS4 games! Twitter is limited to sharing screenshots (which can be toggled so that one is taken with a quick tap of the Share Button, and can be uploaded when you hold it down), but Facebook can host both screenshots and video, with automatic YouTube video uploads said to be in the works in a later patch, according to Sony.
Perhaps the best part about sharing however is the Dynamic Menu channel dedicated entirely to livestreams of PS4 gaming! You can search by game, by content, and various other things, to see all sorts of PS4 games in action, being played live, complete with live commentary! This is very cool, as it will give players a means to be demonstrated the potential of a play experience without having to download trailers and demos, something that is quite ingenious on Sony’s part! Again, the resolution of the game takes a huge hit when watched through a stream, but the appeal is still there for enthusiasts of competitive gaming, score-chasing and trophy hunting!
You’ll need to register your PS4 with Twitch or UStream to livestream gameplay yourself, and you’ll also have to separately buy the PS4 Camera for best results, especially for picture-in-picture live commentary during streaming. Still, the fact that this Share Button has been made so simple and inviting is one of the best new innovations that the otherwise refined and conservative PS4 software infrastructure has to offer!
If the PS4 does one thing extremely well for gamers in particular, it’s convenience! Yes, you still have to perform mandatory game installs, but now, they’re faster, and you don’t even need to wait until they’re finished to start playing! Yes, you need a PlayStation Plus membership to play online now, but just one needs to be shared amongst every PS4 user in your entire house, and you can all share digital game purchases with each other on your own accounts to boot! The fact that you can now download your PlayStation Network ID onto a friend’s console and have access to your entire library of digital games right then and there is also extremely convenient!
The use of apps such as Netflix, Music Unlimited and more continue to work about the same as they did on PS3, with perhaps some added smoothness. Music Unlimited still allows you to share your music library with both your PS3 and your Vita, and, using Remote Play, you can also play music out of your Vita and put in some headphones to access your PS4’s music library on the go! Sure, you could also put music on your Vita directly, but it’s cool to be able to share your music and movie libraries so effectively between modern PlayStation devices!
Your Vita can even be used as a second screen after it’s linked to the PS4, allowing you to use it for things like Battlefield 4’s Commander Mode and such. Again, you still have to own a Vita in the first place, but if you’ve already bought one, the value of your handheld will skyrocket once you pair it up with PS4, thanks to all of their effective sharing functionality!
On this note, we also put the free PlayStation App through its paces, on both an Android smartphone and an iOS-powered tablet. Disappointingly, there’s no variation of the app currently optimized for tablets, so the app looks a bit scrunched and poorly optimized on iPad’s and the like, but it still technically works. Still, it’s definitely designed with smartphones in mind.
Even then, iOS seems to run the app a bit more smoothly than Android does at present. The iOS layout was friendlier, transitions between options smoother when managing friends lists, navigating the PlayStation Store and checking trophies, and the OS itself just seemed better tailored to the app, making iPhones the best device to download and use it on. The app still worked quite well on the Android phone, but it was a bit clunkier, slower and less intuitive to navigate.
Hopefully you don’t have nothing but Windows phones and tablets either, because, understandable as it is, the PlayStation App is not offered on those devices at this point. If you’re planning to jump ship from Microsoft, you won’t be able to do it halfway!
That said however, for the gaming lifestyle, PS4 offers you loads of options, and they all work beautifully!