Sony Computer Entertainment America (SCEA) announced Monday the rollout of the latest firmware update for its PlayStation Portable (PSP) handheld gaming console. The system software update version 4.00 brings Google search to the XrossMediaBar (XMB) interface, the result of a new partnership between the hardware heavyweight and the king of online search.
The addition is part of Sony’s effort to respond to consumers’ desire for greater Internet functionality, John Koller, director of hardware marketing at SCEA, told TechNewsWorld.
Like Google, Without the Googling
“Consumers have been asking for ways to expand the PSP’s Internet functionality. Over 50 percent of PSP owners use the PSP’s Internet browser, and Google is one of the most highly trafficked sites,” he said.
The new upgrade reproduces Google’s desktop search experience and provides the same results available from a PC or Mac at Google.com, according to Sony.
“This integration allows the search functionality to reside directly on the XMB,” Koller pointed out.
A connection to the Web via wireless access point is necessary to use the new search functionality. PSP users can access Google search by clicking on the XMB’s Network icon and then the Internet Search icon.
With the software update, Sony has also given gamers the ability to change viewing speeds during the playback of videos played on the PSP. Users can now speed through or slow down the video they’re watching by pressing the up or down directional buttons as the video plays.
In the Works
In addition to upcoming releases, including “Secret Agent Clank,” “Madden NFL ’09” and “Star Wars: The Force Unleashed,” Sony is preparing to add several other features to the PSP in the near future, Koller stated.
“The PSP will receive GPS (Global Positioning System) functionality — including 3-D mapped cities, branded POIs (points of interest) and more — and a keyboard for easier Internet browsing and text entry. PSP owners will also be able to download movies and TV shows from the upcoming video download service, which will further add to the expanse of content available for the system,” he explained.
Sony also said it will add stations to the PSP’s Internet radio feature.