I love my PlayStation Vita to pieces. It goes with me everywhere. It takes me back to the good old days of gaming. It happily streams most of my most beloved games straight from my PS4. I've played Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes and Yakuza: Ishin on my toilet.
By this reasoning alone, The PlayStation Vita is perhaps the most remarkable handheld gaming system on the market currently, and yet Sony aren't doing everything they can to make it the best handheld on the market for sure. So much love and planning clearly went into the PS Vita at conception that it now feels like a lot of their features are either lost-in-time or straight up unnecessary. Take for instance the NEAR app, which allows players to log their current location, distance traveled, discover new games and like minded gamers nearby. It's worth opening just once; out of curiosity. In an ideal universe it might function as a social tool for multiplayer Vita gaming, but no-where near enough people own Vitas for it to realise that potential. It's largely obsolete.
My biggest gripe however isn't NEAR, nor is it the 3G implementation, nor the lack of AAA Games. It's the second screen function. Your earliest memory of some sort of second screen functionality probably came by way of Microsoft and SmartGlass. SmartGlass promised Xbox 360 (and now Xbox One) owners that their smartphones, surface tablets, and other devices could act as a second interface. These devices could be used to access a secondary UI which could allow options such as remote control functionality in media apps, and options such as inventory management in video games.
Sony have their own SmartGlass function as well, rather unimaginatively named "Second Screen". This follows the same principle, but includes these features on the Vita as well. The technology is there, and it's readily available... But it's not being used. Developers are implementing it, but it's in such a way that it makes the process far too convoluted or bothersome for many of us to actually give a damn. Instead of using the already available SmartGlass and Second Screen technologies, developers are dedicating time and resources into building their own 3rd party solutions.
Take for instance the MGSV: Ground Zeroes companion app, the Battlefield 4 companion app, the Watch_Dogs companion app. The Assassins Creed Black Flag companion app. These are all apps that in one way or another do exactly what SmartGlass and Second Screen promised to provide. They provide map data to the player. The Ground Zeroes app provides intel and data. The Watch_Dogs and Battlefield 4 apps open up entirely new gameplay modes.
These are all apps that can have their features built smartly into SmartGlass and Second Screen functionality. There is not a single thing that these apps can do that SmartGlass and Second Screen are incapable of... And yet they're absent. What I find most hilarious of all is that The Playroom on Sony's PS4 does support Second Screen. On mobiles.
"AR STUDIO is not yet ready for the PlayStation Vita System."
The second screen function on PS Vita is only partially supported! Sony's own handheld doesn't yet have the full support of a PlayStation app developed by Sony themselves!
Why is this the case though? Why do we gamers need to download a new app onto our phones every time a game is released? Why do we need to download 5 apps when we only ever really need one? Are the developers making profit-per-click on every download they get from the Apple or Google Play stores? That could be okay... Were it not also sacrificing a whole lot of convenience in order to do so. The Titanfall Companion App alone is 630MB! WHY? Why can't that data be streamed wirelessly from our consoles to our smart devices? It also devalues the work put in by the programmers who created SmartGlass and Second Screen.
I think it's about time we spoke up about this, because this is only inconveniencing us as the consumers. Have there been bigger issues to argue about? For sure. I still think that this is worth mentioning however. It's increasingly important that the games we buy and the services we use are tailored by our needs, and not what the developer assumes we need, or will even just be okay with.
Fight for SmartGlass. Fight for Second Screen. They're excellent ideas that are being ground in bloody battlefield dirt.