PS4 software update 5.5 – the update is here and these are the key features

[Update: The PS4 software update 5.5 has now completed its beta period and is launching on all consoles as of March 8. Below you'll find a rundown of the biggest features this update brings to the table, first announced at the launch of the beta.]

Not so long ago, PlayStation announced that it was working on the next major software update for the PlayStation 4 and it wanted users to sign up for the chance to beta test the new features.

Now, the beta period has started and we have a great deal more clarity around what we can expect from software update 5.5 thanks to a recent blog post. Those selected as beta testers will be able to download the new patch today and we’re taking a look at some of the changes they can expect to find.

One of the biggest new additions will be appealing to parents of PlayStation addicted kids – Play Time Management. This new feature will come under the console’s parental controls and will allow Family Manager profiles to set limits on when their children can play and how long they’re able to do so. 

Parental powers

For example, a parent can decide that their child is allowed to play their console for a total of two hours each day, but not play at all after 10pm. This means that the console will track how long a child is playing over the course of the day and cut them off when they reach the two hour maximum or if the clock strikes 10. Children will be sent notifications throughout their play with regards to how much time they have left so that they can save and quit in time. 

Though it seems sad to deprive kids of the chance to sneak down into the living room at night and get another couple of games in, this feature will be a time saver for parents sick of lifting their child’s tired head out of their bowl of cereal on school mornings.

Better backgrounds and time-saving tabs

Outside of parental controls, update 5.5 will allow users to import images from a USB stick to use as a custom wallpaper for a more personal look.

Speaking of looks, the Library UI will see some changes. Two new tabs are being added to make tracking your installed applications easier: ‘This PS4’ and ‘Name/Avatar’. When selected, the former will list all the applications installed on the overall system, while the latter will list the applications you purchased on your personal PSN ID. 

A third PlayStation Plus tab will also be added to the Library to help you keep track of which of the free monthly games you’ve downloaded.

The Quick Menu is being made, well, more quick to navigate in update 5.5 with the ability to access custom friends lists. You’ll also be able to access media shortcuts – when using Spotify on the console, for example, opening the Quick Menu and pressing square will allow you to control the volume.

A treat for PS4 Pro users

If your Notifications tab makes you feel like you’re in a particularly bad episode of Hoarders, you’ll be glad to know that update 5.5 will make it possible to permanently delete any and all old notifications. 

PS4 Pro users will be getting their own new addition with this update – supersampling mode. This mode will allow those using TVs with a 2K resolution or lower to see visual enhancements from the 4K console.

With this mode turned on, PS4 Pro supported games will render at their higher resolutions and then the system will downscale them to match the TV, meaning it's really not essential to have a 4K TV to get something out of the latest console.  

These are the only features that have been revealed for now, but Sony has said that there’s still more to come from update 5.5 in the near future. 

Emma Boyle

Emma Boyle is TechRadar’s ex-Gaming Editor, and is now a content developer and freelance journalist. She has written for magazines and websites including T3, Stuff and The Independent. Emma currently works as a Content Developer in Edinburgh.