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How the PlayStation 4’s second screen functionality could put it ahead of the Xbox One and SmartGlass

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by Grant Brunner, 06 Oct 2013Features
How the PlayStation 4’s second screen functionality could put it ahead of the Xbox One and SmartGlass

Now that we’ve seen what the next-gen consoles have to offer in terms of traditional gaming, the focus is shifting towards the ancillary benefits of the PS4 and Xbox One. Both Sony and Microsoft are betting on the second screen experience for the upcoming generation, and we’re finally beginning to get a better idea of what we can expect on smartphones and tablets. More importantly, the PlayStation Vita might just turn out to be the ace up Sony’s sleeve.

Recently, Sony’s Shuhei Yoshida went into detail about the brand new PlayStation app slated to come to iOS and Android later this year. Not only did he give us a better look at the user interface, but now we know what we can expect at launch. With this companion app, you can send and receive all of your PSN messages, manage your per-game invites, purchase games, and even trigger remote downloads on your PS4 over the Internet. Even better, the PlayStation app serves as a way for developers to deliver touch-based gameplay on the PS4 without having to develop their own apps from scratch.

From what we’ve seen, Microsoft is very much on the same path. The Xbox SmartGlass app has been around for quite some time now, and it offers a decent amount of connectivity and control for the Xbox 360. When the Xbox One launches, we’ll definitely see a compatibility update to match Sony’s new app. No surprise there, but there is some interesting news regarding Microsoft taking on Sony’s Gaikai streaming on mobile devices. The Verge is reporting that Microsoft recently showed off Halo 4 running on a smartphone at an internal meeting. While this is still early days, it’s safe to assume that Windows-based smartphones and tablets will eventually be able to play streamed console games – much like existing OnLive titles.

Sony has already committed to cloud-based game streaming sometime after the PS4's initial launch, but details remain sparse. The Gaikai team will be streaming games to the PS3, PS4, PS Vita, and PS Mobile devices, and the potential of that instant game library is a huge shadow hanging over Microsoft’s head. The ability to read your instant messages on the go is a nice checkbox for your platform, but streaming hundreds of games could actually impact unit sales.

Fundamentally, Microsoft is at a disadvantage here. It appears that Sony is miles ahead on the game streaming front, and it sells a device that is actually designed to play games wherever you are. Streaming games to the Vita is a no-brainer at this point, and will offer a much better experience than gaming on a tablet or smartphone. Even if Microsoft can catch up with Sony’s progress in terms of streaming tech, the available mobile hardware just can’t compare. Halo on a smartphone is a cool idea, but simply cannot compete with a real controller.

Provided that Sony continues to execute on its impressive promises, the Vita might just seal the PS4’s fate as the bigger selling console, and the winner of the next generation.

While you’re here, you might also want to check out: Could the PS Vita be Sony’s secret weapon in pushing the PlayStation 4?

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