PS5 Just Got Voice Commands And They Really Suck Right Now

Sony clearly has some big plans for the PlayStation ecosystem moving forward. Earlier this week it confirmed the long-rumoured existence of PlayStation Plus Premium with the reveal of multiple tiers, backward compatibility, and streaming now included within your membership. Big changes are coming as it hopes to compete with Xbox Game Pass and Switch Online.

However, with big changes inevitably comes a few teething issues, and the latest preview update for PS5 has already made them very apparent. The user interface has undergone some subtle and welcome changes, such as incorporating the browsing of your downloads, friends list, and other social features under a single menu. It saves a few button presses, and helps in making the console feel a little more modern in terms of navigation.

Improvements like this are amazing, and a natural part of a console’s growth as the launch hype dies down and the companies behind them are free to iterate. Unless you’re Nintendo, who I swear has done next to nothing when it comes to jazzing up the Switch. The world will have surrendered to nuclear oblivion before we receive custom themes and backgrounds on that thing. But for the PS5 and Xbox Series X/S: each major update feels like it brings something new to the table.

Despite all of these advancements leaving me with a warm and fuzzy feeling, I’d be a fool to admit that PS5’s new voice commands are any good. They suck, like a first generation of Siri or Cortana with all of the apparent kinks. At the time of writing it only recognises a handful of commands and will respond to the majority of queries by telling you it doesn’t understand you, or that the programming behind it isn’t set up for anything more complicated than navigating to a specific menu or launching a game or application. From what I can tell it can’t even take a screenshot, which is what I’d actually use it for.

Now I’ll cut them some slack and admit that Sony is clear about this feature being in preview right now, even providing a list of commands it is capable of adhering to at the time of writing. It can’t do much right now, and it seems like the aim is to simply see how beta testers react to its presence and if they actually use it. You can turn the feature off altogether, but if switched on, it will react to whatever headset you have plugged in alongside the built-in microphone found in the DualSense controller. It can be muted with the touch of a button so it’s no big deal, and you’ll want to because voice commands will perk up whenever the world ‘PlayStation’ or anything vaguely similar is brought up in conversation.

But even with improvements to come in future updates, these voice commands feel largely like a novelty, a cool feature we’ll fiddle with for a couple of minutes before realising that actually using them on a regular basis is far less effective than the controller in our hands. PS4 implemented a similar set of voice commands across the interface that were equally as ignored. Like, I didn’t even know they were being added until I switched the console on and saw them for myself. When PlayStation Premium arrives and my library of games vastly increases thanks to the presence of backwards compatibility, I’ll likely get more use out of them, especially when considering how tiresome it is to scroll through my library in search of a single game. Being able to just say its name and see it launch would be awesome.

Maybe they’ll get better, but right now voice commands on PS5 are a cool feature without much practical use. I can’t even ask it to take screenshots of my sick Elden Ring plays.

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