Wii U update brings off-TV Wii gaming, PS3 update brings automatic updates

Date Posted Author
6th October 2013 Matt Bailey

This week, both the Wii U and the PS3 got new firmware updates bringing a range of new features (we skip the ones where they just improve system stability). For the PS3 it was a modest update, but did include the important ability for all future updates to be downloaded automatically by the PS3, a feature previously only available to PlayStation Plus subscribers. You'll still need Plus to get automatic game updates, but at least in the future you won't have to spend time waiting to download the new firmware before you can play online, although you will have to wait for it to install.

That's not the only PS Plus feature being made available to all; purchases made on the web-based version of the PlayStation Store will now automatically downloaded on the PS3 for all users. Trophies can now hidden as well, for some reason. An interesting new feature for PS Vita owners to the ability to connect to their PS3 via WiFi, allowing transfers of saves, games and other media wirelessly, instead of hooking up the USB cable every time. Except Sony got back to say this wasn't quite ready as it actually requires an update on the PS Vita as well which hasn't gone live yet (and they weren't able to confirm when, either).

For the Wii U the headline new feature in the update is the ability to output video and sound to the Wii U GamePad when going into "Wii Mode". This means you can now play Wii games on the GamePad, but you'll still need to use Wii Remotes and their associated accessories in order to play them - no GamePad controls are supported. However, the GamePad does actually have built-in infrared sensors, so you don't need to be pointing at the Sensor Bar mounted on top of your TV in order to play - you can put the GamePad somewhere and play games right in front of you. The ability to play Virtual Console games on the GamdPad was previously restricted to just those games you'd upgraded to the new Wii U versions, although in order to play with GamePad controls or take advantage of the save slots you'll still need to upgrade.

Sometimes even the most basic things don't make it into the firmware until months - or even years - later. This is the case with the addition of support for USB keyboards which has now been added to the Wii U. Or using a headset connected to the GamePad to chat. Or adding a friend list icon to the Wii U Menu. Or letting you choose how sound is output - through HDMI, through another cable or through both. There's also some upgrades to the browser, including support for viewing PDF files, the ability to save usernames and passwords, extra video playback options, and the ability to take screenshots while playing and upload them to Twitter or Facebook. It's an all-round package of good simple additions that's another small step for Nintendo to take the Wii U to where it should be.

The new updates for the PS3 and the Wii U are, of course, free, and you'll be prompted to get them the next time you turn on the consoles while connected to the internet. Although it will have downloaded automatically for Wii U owners and PS3 owners with PS Plus subscriptions, so your downtime will be waiting for the install...

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