Since the Japanese release of the PSP in December 2004, Sony has been continuously updating the system software (Firmware) of the system for three main reasons – security, bug fixes (always rolled into other patches), and new features. Security has largely been about patching vulnerabilities that have allowed exploits permitting the use of so-called homebrew, which is user-created software that offers many useful features, but sadly the most utilized is the ability to play pirated games.
New feature started being added with patches as early as the 1.5 release – the first North American release added multiple language support and content authentication. Since then we’ve seen a multitude of new features added – and some biggies such as the web browser, support for audio and video RSS feeds, internet radio, Skype, and many more. Indeed much of the non-game experience has been drastically altered over the last four years, with the exception of the minor tweaks the MP3 player has gotten. If you are interested in the full history of PSP Firmware Updates, check it out here.
This week Sony has rolled out the Firmware Update 5.5, which is largely a new feature release, as indicated on Sony’s Playstation.Blog. Some of the key changes include introducing features already found on the PS3 (as if PSP owners needed further evidence of where they land on Sony’s priority list). This includes adding the ‘Information Board’ to the XMB (XrossMediaBar, pronounced CrossMediaBar and officially abbreviated as XMB), searching for information about your games on the internet from the XMB, and some ‘under the hood’ changes to the web browser to make it more efficient and less prone to crashes and ‘out of memory’ errors.
The Official Site details some of the other high-profile changes:
- * Memory Stick improvements – You’ll be able to create and access sub-folders on your Memory Stick PRO Duo for music, videos and photos. Separately, the available space required to download a file from PlayStation Store to your Memory Stick has been reduced significantly.
- * Internet search for games directly from the XMB – You’ll be able to easily search the Internet for information about your PSP games. Select the icon for the game, hit the Triangle button, and then select [Internet Search] from the options menu to get search results based on the game title. This feature was added to PS3 with the recent 2.70 update.
- * Trend Micro trial – PSP’s Internet browser is a great tool for checking out your favorite Web sites on the go, and we’re teaming up with the Internet security experts at Trend Micro to make the Web browsing experience safer and more secure. With the 5.50 update, you’ll have the option to access a free trial of two Trend Micro services:
- * Trend Micro Web Security uses Web reputation technology to block PSP owners from accidentally visiting a Web site that may contain malicious content designed to steal personal information and confidential data.
- * Trend Micro Kids’ Safety uses URL filtering technology to prevent children from accessing Web sites that feature inappropriate content.
The memory stick changes are HUGE for a couple of reasons: first, like it or not, the PSP is getting compared the iPod Touch when folks are making purchases, so having a MP3 player with less functionality than my old HP Jornada 545 doesn’t do the system any favors. Second – and more important – the reduction in the ‘available space’ requirements for downloading from the PSN Store are critical to the future of any download-centric business model, as folks are currently getting ‘inadequate space’ messages with plenty of available storage.
The other stuff is interesting, but it isn’t clear how much it really matters based on the usage models of the PSP.
Source: Sony’s Playstation.Blog.