Shinka Design

Sony updates PS3 software Apple updates Apple TV 11/1/09

I’ve recently updated both the software for my Playstation 3 as well as my Apple TV, both making various changes to user interaction. One for the worse and one for the better.

The Apple TV update changed the layout of the main menu to a horizontal direction instead of the vertical one it was using previously. It also now gives you a preview of recent additions to your library depending on the category. But most notably, it’s the most subtle changes that I find the most interesting. Previously, with the Apple TV, when you were in a menu item which had a category in the iTunes store (Movies, TV Shows, etc.), the first items on the list were various sub categories of the store (Top Movies, Genres, Search, etc.). This gave the feeling the purpose of the Apple TV was simply to sell you more content. To get to your own content (synced from your computer) you clicked on the last menu item (My Movies, My TV Shows, etc.), as if your personal content was simply an afterthought. This new software update resolves that discrepancy placing your own content at the top of the menu system. It’s a subtle change, but assuming you want to browse your own content rather than immediately taking you to a place to sell you more content is a nice change.

Similarly, the latest Playstation 3 upgrade offers similar changes. Before the current update, upon say, inserting a DVD would take you straight to the ‘Video’ menu with the DVD highlighted ready for launch. With the new launch, whether a DVD is inserted or not, you’re taken directly to the Playstation Network menu item, which is obviously not what I was planning on doing when I inserted a DVD. Even worse, when navigating back over to the ‘Video’ menu the first item listed is not the DVD you wanted to play, but instead is a link to the Playstation store. So with the new update, the Playstation seems to be impeding your desires at every stage, attempting to sell you something instead. It’s incredibly frustrating.

The first change is an example of attention to detail making for a more pleasant user experience that doesn’t attempt to impose sales upon you, the second is an annoying attempt to impose sales and interrupt user interaction with the menu. I fairly enjoyed the Playstation menu when the system first came out. Even the new Apple TV menu seems to be throwing a few nods in Sony’s direction with their new horizontal menu. However, where the changes to the Apple TV menu seem to be an improvement, the Sony’s menu changes are a step backward.