PlayStation 5: Sony gives us our first look at the software as launch approaches

Some final PS5 details are coming to light.

Eli Blumenthal Senior Editor
Eli Blumenthal is a senior editor at CNET with a particular focus on covering the latest in the ever-changing worlds of telecom, streaming and sports. He previously worked as a technology reporter at USA Today.
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Eli Blumenthal
4 min read

The PlayStation 5 home screen. 


Update, Nov. 6: Read our PS5 review.

The PlayStation 5 goes on sale less than a month away on Nov. 12, but there are still plenty of things we don't know about Sony's next-generation game console. Among them are questions about what exactly the user interface looks like -- what menus are we going to be looking at for the best part of the next decade? On Thursday, Sony started providing some of those details, though it hasn't answered all the questions just yet. 

In a new video and blog post, the company detailed some elements of the PS5's interface, notably a new Control Center pop-up menu. The feature, accessible by pressing the PlayStation button on the DualSense 5 controller, will allow you to quickly see who's online, check the status of pending downloads, managing power and viewing controller battery life. 

It also will bring a host of "cards" that allow for quickly seeing recent "stories" from publishers of games you're following and how far along you are in the game you're playing. It can also show how much time, in minutes, it should take to complete certain tasks. Estimates are "personalized" to you and are tailored to how you've been playing. 

In Sackboy: A Big Adventure, each level has its own "activities," or cards viewable in the Control Center that allow you to jump right into specific moments, levels or challenges.   


The PS5's Control Center can show you how much progress you've made in a level as well as display "activity" cards to let you jump into certain moments in a game. 


If a developer enables it, the Control Center can also show hints for how to complete missed tasks or objectives allowing you to jump right in without having to search Google or YouTube. You will, however, need to be a subscriber to PlayStation Plus. Some of these cards can be placed in a "picture-in-picture" mode or a side-by-side view to better assist you as you play. 

Notifications, such as if your friend wants to invite you to a voice chat, will appear as an overlay in the upper right corner. Chats can take place with friends who are on a PS5, PS4 or on the PlayStation mobile app and if you don't have a headset plugged into your controller you can use the DualSense 5's built-in mic and speaker. 

Those looking to respond to written messages will be able to use a new dictation feature, which should be easier than hunting and pecking with joysticks on an on-screen keyboard. 

Sharing of game clips and screenshots between friends has also gotten a boost. The PlayStation 5 automatically records the last 60 minutes of gameplay in 1080p, just in case you do something that needs to be shared (you can also manually record up to an hour in 4K by pressing the "Create" button on the controller). You can share real-time footage of your games with friends, with the shared game able to appear in a little "picture-in-picture" window on top of the game your friend is playing. 


The Control Center also can provide game help, so long as the developer supports it and you're subscribed to PlayStation Plus. 


In addition to sending to friends, you will also be able to share clips and screenshots directly to third-party social media sites like Twitter. 

Also new: If the screenshot or clip you're sharing contains what the developer thinks might be a potential spoiler element and your friend owns the same game, the system will notify your friend before they open it on their PS5 so as not to ruin their experience, with the same applying for clips sent to you. 

Although Sony hasn't fully detailed which entertainment apps will be available for the PS5 (based on the PS5's media remote we know YouTube, Disney Plus, Netflix and Spotify are all confirmed), on the main home screen they will live in a separate "media" tab with games appearing in an appropriate "games" section. The menus and home interface are all available in 4K HDR. 

Watch this: PS5's new UI revealed! Full features breakdown

Beyond a full list of apps, there are a number of other questions Sony still has left unanswered despite the rapidly approaching PS5 ship date with a few new ones added to the list from Thursday's reveal. The company did not detail which languages will be able to use dictation, which external services you'll be able to quickly share game clips and screenshots to beyond Twitter, or if you'll be able to have a friend's game stream viewable in a picture-in-picture window while using other apps like Netflix or YouTube. 

Hideaki Nishino, senior vice president of Sony Interactive Entertainment's platform planning and management, tells CNET that voice control is also coming but wouldn't reveal when or if digital voice assistants -- such as Google's Assistant or Amazon's Alexa -- will be compatible with the console. 

The approach Sony has taken comes as a stark contrast to Microsoft's plans for the Xbox Series X. Whereas Sony has limited who has been able to see the PS5 hardware or experience games, Microsoft has already sent out units of its new system to media outlets, YouTubers and influencers and allowed them to start sharing hands-on impressions

Despite the secrecy, Sony seems to be having no problems moving next-generation consoles. Both the $400 digital-only PlayStation 5 and the $500 model with Blu-ray have quickly sold out at retailers whenever they appear in stock.