If you're a little bit of a crazed social media fanatic like myself, you can't go an hour without keeping in touch (or seeking attention) from those that are willing to listen. We can now access the internet from our phones, tablets, and even our handheld gaming devices, thanks to Sony's new PlayStation Vita.
The stunning new handheld launched across Australia yesterday, introducing gamers to a new app-driven gaming experience. It's quite clear that Sony has taken inspiration from the likes of Apple with its UI design, presenting users with a menu-system decorated by your downloaded apps and quick-access game tabs.
With many more apps promised to come in the future, the inclusion of popular social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook certainly offer enough of an insight as to app functionality ahead of the inevitable influx of applications from other third-party developers.
How do these two social media apps actually work? As an avid smartphone user and social media lover, I jumped straight into the action to see just how functioning and accessible the platforms were.
Twitter works surprisingly well on PlayStation Vita. The system's touch-screen collaborates well with the service's quick interaction and minimal social elements, making the experience easy and enjoyable. The big screen makes reading Tweets easier than on a smartphone, and the overall design is sleek and smooth.
The feed loads quickly, the images are clear and the text bright. There is a clear distinction between mentions, links, retweet's and time, coded using Twitter's familiar aqua style.
Responding to a Tweet is as easy as touching the desired Tweet, which brings up a separated, bright-red coloured page. From here you can easily reply, retweet and see the conversation.
Posting shares the same level of ease. The load times are quick, bordering instantaneous, but you should consider that this was done on a Wi-Fi ADSL2+ connection, not 3G, so results may vary. Overall though the app runs smoothly. The touchscreen is functioning and responsive, considerably more so than my HTC Desire Pro HD, which almost always records the wrong letters. Granted, by phone's screen is considerably smaller, but it definitely felt easier to Tweet on Vita than on my phone.
Adding an attachment is simple: simply select the attach paper-pin logo and choose from the attachment options. You can select an image from your Vita's gallery or take a picture using its camera, with the image automatically added into the post, as seen below.
Your profile is clean, loading in only a second or so.
Facebook is an entirely different experience. Admittedly I use Facebook considerably more than Twitter while on my home computer, but Twitter more while on the go. This is certainly driven by the fact that Facebook mobile apps simply fail to capture the experience the social media platform offers in a full internet browser. The same problem persists with Facebook on Vita. As with the Facebook app on my iPad, it's slow, confusing and cluttered, making Vita's included browser a far more desirable, but still frustrating, way to use Facebook on the handheld.
This is a page you'll be greeted with often when using Facebook on your Vita. Load times generally take 10-20 seconds, sometimes longer.
The Newsfeed shares obvious similarities with the browser version of Facebook, looking almost identical to the Facebook app for my HTC.
You can select a quickpost option from the bottom right corner, although this doesn't really cure the slow load times that also plague other mobile Facebook apps. Granted, Facebook is loading a lot more than Twitter is, but it still seems tedious when you're constantly met with load times on every page you visit.
There are a few other issues with the app. Firstly, there doesn't seem to be any way to search or access pages you're admin in. Even if you wanted to access a specific page, the only way you could is by clicking a post by the page in the newsfeed, but then you can only view that specific post and not actually access the page.
Photos also seem restricted to your own profile, with the viewing of other people's photos restricted to viewing their profile (via the very tedious friend search system) or by clicking on newly-posted photos in the newsfeed.
The Final Verdict
Major work needs to be done to improve the Facebook app, which I can't imagine anyone using all that much if it stays in its current way. If you've got access to pages that you admin, the inability to actually view, share and comment on them seems especially counter productive to the whole Facebook experience.
As for Twitter, it's superbly designed, accessible and fast, making for interaction that is surprisingly enjoyable and a perfect representation of the mobile Twitter experience.
By Gaetano Prestia