New PS5 beta software explained: What it adds, new "Hey PlayStation" voice commands and more

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(Pocket-lint) - Sony is rolling out new system software to PlayStation 5 (and PS4) beta testers today.

Selected participants in the UK, US, Canada, Japan, Germany and France will be able to test the software and its new features ahead of a consumer rollout later this year.

Here's what the February 2022 beta system software adds to PlayStation 5. You can also scroll down to check out how to register for the beta program for future trials.

New features in PS5 beta system software (February 2022)

There are several new features for beta participants to test, including new party chat and accessibility options, plus UI improvements. Perhaps the biggest is voice commands, whereby you can simply ask your PS5 to open apps and games, control media playback and more. Here is a brief rundown of the new features.

Voice Command (for UK and US testers only)

PlayStation is testing the ability to open games, apps and settings, or control the playback of a TV show or film using just your voice.

Once switched on in the settings, you can simply say "Hey, PlayStation!" and ask it to find a game, etc.

There is a warning to beta participants, however. As this is in test mode, anything askedcould be recorded and stored by Sony unless it's on a child's account - in which case it will never be recorded.

Party Chat

There are several new options for Party Chat. When starting a party you can now choose an open party or closed party - the latter is invite-only.

There are now visual indicatiors to help you see who is speaking to make it easier to report innappropriate behaviour.

And you can now start a Share Play session directly from a voice chat card.

Game Base

Voice chats have been renamed Parties, while the Game Base menu is now split into three tabs: Friends, Parties and Messages.

The Friends tab will show all your friends (naturally) and give you access to player search friend requests. You can also add a player to a group or create a new one from the Game Base, plus share messages, images and video.

If someone is in a party and sharing their screen, you will see an on air icon. There is also a new decline button to turn down friend requests.

UI features

You can now filter your game collection by genre and a new "Keep in Home" option is available when you select a game tile on the homescreen. Up to five games and apps can be kept in the home screen bar.

A new total of up to 14 games and apps now appear on the homescreen.

Trophy cards and the trophy list has been redesigned. And, you can now Share Screen from the create menu to stream gameplay to an open party.

Accessibility features

Screen reader is now available in more languages, with Russian, Arabic, Dutch, Brazilian Portuguese, Polish, and Korean added to the list.

You can now enable mono audio for headphones to play the same audio in each ear. This is particularly useful for those with unilateral hearing loss.

And you can now see a check mark on enabled settings to more easily see when they are turned on.

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How to apply for the PS5 beta program

Although it may be too late to test the latest beta version of the system software, you can register as a beta tester for possible future inclusion.

Just head to the registration page here - www.playstation.com/en-gb/ps5/ps5-beta-program-sign-up/ - and sign into your PllayStation account to verify your interest.

Writing by Rik Henderson.

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