PlayStation Vita user interface explored

The PlayStation Vita, Sony’s last-ditch attempt to wrangle in hand-held gamers who have migrated to the infinitely cheaper iOS and Android gaming market, offers innovation via a smartphone-like UI. Hardware and software specifications have been rolling around the Internet, but until now, the Vita’s interface has not seen the light of day.

Tellingly, the five-inch touchscreen navigates in a similar form to the Android OS. The display, crisp and lag-free, is built on gesture control, with a swipe navigating the animated menus. The home screen is broken up into rows of icons, alternating between three to four icons per row. In total, users can look forward to ten apps on the home screen.

If the user needs more icons, an auxiliary screen hosts additional apps. The main icons can be accessed from either screen and are affixed to a vertically scrolling app carousel. Selecting a home screen icon brings up a new “app panel” or a fixed page with further options.

As with Windows, Mac and Linux, these windows remain resident in memory allowing the user to horizontally swipe through open applications in an instant. Reports state that there is no lag during the multi-tasking process, with games and applications launching instantly when accessed.

A small status bar displays the latest, open applications and what at first seems tiny and cumbersome becomes clearer once the PlayStation Home button is depressed. Holding down the physical PlayStation button brings up a detailed menu of all open apps as well as the associated names. In typical Sony style, apps are closed with a slick graphical flourish. A diagonal swipe seemingly rips the app off the Vita’s home screen.

With the PlayStation Vita hitting Japanese stores in less than a week, the world will soon experience the mobile-phone inspired interface championed by Sony.

Steven Norris: grumpy curmudgeon


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