If you were worried about Sony’s walled garden limiting your enjoyment of the PlayStation VR, you can breathe easy now. Sony just pushed an update to the PS4’s Media Player app, and the new features it brings will undoubtedly make the PSVR much more appealing to some of us.
In a post on the European PlayStation blog, Sony outlines a few of the new features added to version 2.5 of the Media Player app. With this newest update, FLAC playback and “audio upscaling” for MP3s and AACs with Sony’s own DSEE HX tech are now available to all. That’s great news for console-loving audiophiles, but the new features specifically tailored for the PSVR headset are much more interesting.
With the new software installed, the PS4 now supports 360 degree videos and photos, but for proper playback, they’ll need to be equirectangular. Unfortunately, that means some existing 360 degree content won’t work out of the box. As for file formats, MKV, AVI, MP4, MPEG2 PS, MPEG2 TS, AVCHD, JPEG, BMP, and PNG files are all capable of being viewed with Sony’s software, but you still won’t be able to store the files directly on your PS4. You’ll either need to use a good old-fashioned USB stick, or simply store them on your local media server. Thankfully, streaming to the PS4 isn’t very difficult.
So, what kind of content does this open up? Well, you could shoot your own 360 degree photos with the Google’s Street View app, and immerse yourself in your memories later on. Take 360 degree photos of your Christmas decorations, your trip to the Grand Canyon, or capture your whole crew at the family reunion. And if you ever want to experience new places in your pajamas, you can easily find other 360 degree photos online.
Services like Hulu and Vrideo already have dedicated apps to let PSVR users watch curated 360 degree video, but having support baked into the Media Player lets smaller content creators have access to a brand new audience as well.
Of course, this also opens up the PSVR to a swath of content that Sony would never allow directly on PSN. 360-degree pornography has been around for quite a while now, and we know PS4 users already tend to watch a lot of porn. Not every video service will have PSVR-optimized video right out of the gate, but it’s fait accompli that distributors will be targeting the PlayStation VR. Sony is selling this headset as a mass market device, and the porn industry will want to reach early adopters who are just itching for new ways to use their gadget.
My PSVR headset just arrived today, so I haven’t had a chance to put any of these new features through their paces yet. But rest assured, we’ll be diving deep on what the PlayStation VR has to offer in the next few days. Keep an eye out.