We informed you earlier this week that a new firmware update was hitting the PS Vita, and now we can confirm it has gone live. Key updates are the inclusion of Google Maps and the ability to take videos with the camera app. However, there’s no sign of the Sony Entertainment Network account name change that we heard was happening though.
Let’s worry about that later though, as we want to focus on showing you the new changes. We have already installed the 1.60 update on our 3G model and we’re pleased to say that it took next to nothing to download and install on the device. Once you have the new firmware, you’ll notice that Sony has added the Maps application to the main LiveArea interface.
For those of you wondering – yes, it is Google Maps. Sony has just called it Maps, but when you open the app up for the first time you’ll have to read a standard Google Maps agreement and if you have the 3G Vita, you can enable location data as well so the app can find where you are. As for the app, it generally works pretty well, although it is a bit sluggish when searching for locations. The app features directions for either walking or driving, but unfortunately there is no Google Street View support, or voice-based directions yet. Hopefully these will come in a future update.
One nice addition to Google Maps on Vita though, is the fact that you can easily save bookmarks for any searches you make. If you use your Vita whilst on the go for example and always take a particular route, you can just save a bookmark or place a flag for easy access next time. Another little feature that Sony has added is the ability to send directions to multiple friends on the PlayStation Network, via a Group messaging feature.
As for the video camera feature, this is self explanatory really. Sony has just added the option to take videos now in the camera app. It is simple to use and the video will save directly to your memory card and you can then hook your Vita up to the PS3 or PC via content manager and share the video elsewhere. We haven’t tested the new Mac support, but we will be taking a look at that in a short while.
For those of you who have a Vita with an Asia PS account, you may also be interested to hear that Sony has added the demo for Ubisoft’s Dark Quest Alliance, although it’s in Japanese.
All in all, the addition of Maps is most welcome, but we just hope that Sony are planning to add some kind of flash suppport asap. The lack of a YouTube or Facebook app is particularly disappointing as well, but we’re guessing these are in the pipeline before the device launches in the US and Europe. If you have any queries about the 1.60 update, leave us a comment below.