PS5 software beta adds new party chat and home screen features

A new PS5 software beta will roll out some party chat and home screen features tomorrow, February 9, and a smaller PS4 beta is coming alongside it. 

The beta will be available to selected users in the US, UK, Canada, Japan, Germany, and France, just like the previous beta. As senior vice president Hideaki Nishino detailed, new party chat options are spearheading the update. PS5 and PS4 players will be able to create open and closed parties, with open parties allowing all friends to join without an invite, and closed parties being invite-only. 

Note that open parties will only be available to PS5 owners running the beta software, so for now you’ll need to make a closed party to let non-beta users join. Relatedly, the new party chat options also include improved reporting tools for party chat, and a one-click Share Play feature for friend profiles. PS4 is also getting individual voice volume just like PS5, which is a nice quality of life update. 

With voice chats now grouped under parties on PS5, the Game Base menu has been updated to show friends, parties, and messages. Nishino says these tabs will feature clearer friend lists, friend requests, and media access for friend groups.

One of the most promising new features is tied to the PS5 home screen, which until now has often felt pretty jumbled. Thankfully, users will now be able to tag up to five games or apps to have them stay on their home screen at all times, separating them from the maximum of 14 total games or apps appearing on home at once. 

Sony’s also quietly demoing voice commands for PS5 with this update. This opt-in feature will be limited to English beta participants in the US and UK to start, and as you’d expect, it’s built around the phrase “Hey, PlayStation”. From there, you can open games, control media, or change settings through voice commands, assuming everything goes according to plan. 

“You can help us improve the feature through our feedback program, which will sometimes record your voice commands (in accordance with our Privacy Policy) and let you provide instant feedback from time to time,” Nishino says. “You can turn this feature off at any time within system settings (see above). This feature never records audio for child accounts.”

The final version of the software being tested is expected to arrive “later this year” and may not include all of the features in the beta. You can read the full patch notes, which include some welcome accessibility features like added screen reader languages, on the PlayStation Blog (opens in new tab)

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