PlayStation 3, what's missing
I've had my PlayStation 3 for a while now and there are things I love about it, and things I don't, and there's also things that are glaringly missing from the system that would make it the integrated system that they are trying for, and for the life of me I just don't know why they haven't implemented them. For all the excellent points about the development of the system, there are so many that are lacking.
First up though let's get this straight, this is not an XBox 360 vs PS3 discussion because all we'll get are people who love one and hate, and have more often than not never tried, the other. This isn't about that, and I'm sure I could balance this article up with one on the XBox 360, as I have and play one, and talk about its good points and failings, for again there are many.
However let's get back to the PS3.
People mistakingly say the PS3 is a games console, and they'd be wrong. It's much more than that and really comprises three separate functions:
A games console:
It's one of the two high definition games consoles out there, the other being the XBox 360, and a cracking one at that. There are some blisteringly good games for it and some games that just look absolutely glorious in high definition.
A Blu-ray player:
It happens to be the cheapest Blu-ray player of its type on the market, and by no means is it a poor player, it's a really good one, ranking up there with the best of them, but it has one spectacular feature that you'd be insane not to take advantage of over another player. Internet upgradable. In the time I've owned it there have been a few software updates that have affected playback with the PS3 and the upgrade to BD Live or BD 2.0 has been the most significant. With other players you would have to live without it, trade it in, or sell and re-buy. Quality wise it's a great player too, offering 1080p upscaling for normal DVD's and excellent quality, HDMI connections and playback for both Dolby Digital and DTS high definition audio tracks.
A home media hub:
With the link up to media server applications it can stream pictures, audio and video, and using something like TVersity on your PC you can stream all your music and play it with a superb backdrop, the Earth itself. The playback for video is strong too, and with the addition of some Homeplugs you can have high definition video and audio streaming across your electricity supply (yes I did say electricity), there's 1080p playback, or limiting to any size you like, and it plays uninterrupted streaming. TVersity also connects you to some Internet sources too for playback, and that's an added bonus.
There's not only that but you can connect your MP3 player or your camera to the PS3 and download or play your music, pictures or audio through the PS3. Downloading the photos to the PS3 allows you to take advantage of a rather slick and visually engaging photo gallery application too.
It's by no means all there though, there's still tons that could be and should be done, and I think they're fast falling behind with the development. Here's where I can't believe they haven't speeded up the development.
Missing a messaging application:
It takes too many clicks in and out to deal with messages between friends, there's not a single, easy way to do it. You have to go in and out of each message under each user and if you delete or send you're pushed back too many steps. It needs a far better messaging application
The gallery is really good, but it needs updated to allow you to pull in photos from other sources other than just those on your hard drive. I seem to remember early versions allowed you to do this, but no more, not in the modern gallery application. How about pulling in my Flickr photos?
What about an application where I can show the games I own? That would be simple as every disc I put into the system could have the option to add the title to my own catalogue. It could also show how many times I've played it over however long I've owned it and in comparison to how much I've played the entire system, might give some interesting stats for which game I love playing the most.
This should intergrate with the friends list too, obviously, and allow me to cross reference against my friends, recommend a game to them to buy/rent, and alert me when they are online playing one of these games, especially alert me when they play it for the first time - "MajorCasualty has just started playing Rainbow Six 2: Las Vegas for the first time ever!".
A decent feed reader, perhaps linking and synching with Google Reader or Newsgator/FeedDemon? Allowing you to view and read feeds online, providing the ability for the PS3 to check in the background and bring up a new item as a tickertape scrolling across whatever you're watching or playing should you have marked the feed as that important.
Imagine a mail client on the PS3. Nothing complex, just something that could download headers and allow you to read/action them, leaving the messages on the server, etc. Just something as simple as the new Microsoft Live Mail for the desktop.
Integration with instant messaging/social media:
The friends list has to be integrated with Twitter, Facebook, Last.fm, Spotify, and so on because it feels very out of date for an Internet application or system not to be. For that matter where is the simple integration with the major chat clients? This is perhaps the most aged feeling part of the whole system. Something akin to FriendFeed but tied into the dashboard is what's needed here. In fact why don't they go to FriendFeed and pay them to develop a PS3 based application? Easy. Allow the user to decide if they want to show on their social media and instant messaging channels if they're watching a film, and what they're watching, or listening to some music, playing a game, broadcasting to their friends that they're looking to play something online, etc. Integrate Ping.fm for example.
It's only just appeared that I can have a PS3 badge on my site. Great I say, but when it has limited backgrounds and even more limited choices for "this is my favourite game" then it hardly seems worth it. I have noticed that they've just put trophy information on there, but why can't I customise it to show the last three played games, or all the game titles I own?
What about having a page showing my PS3 gaming statistics. What I've played, when, what I did in the game, my games catalogue, how I rate each game, the ability to add a review to it from a one liner to something more substantial, all of which are aggregated into a wider listing that allows me to search well liked games, well played games, and the ability to see what my friends list have, are playing, and what they rate highly.
Let's not stop at games, why not allow you to show the photo, audio and video information to be shown online too? Of course this should require that you turn on the setting and that you can automatically or manually mark content as public and allowable to be reported on in the online system.
Imagine a place where PS3 users would be reviewing games and films automatically just by watching them and with a couple of presses of a button providing huge feedback for game developers and film studios alike, even just for Sony this would be huge, but I imagine that they could sell the overall ratings and statistics (nothing personal of course) on to other studios and earn back the money to develop and host the systems and applications.
This should have the ability for me to create multiple badges gathering together various different pieces of information and to grab feeds from all the information available there.
Why don't we have a PS3 Application Store like they do for Apple's iPhone? How cool would that be? Allowing people to build small applications that they would verify and put on the store that you could then download to your PS3, integrating other websites with your PS3 facilities, or just bringing something cool to your desktop.
Now these are just a few of the things that I've been thinking about for the PS3, some things that I've found desperately lacking. What else are you missing? What else would you like to see on the PS3, what could be improved?