Sony has spoken briefly about the new PlayStation app for phones and tablets before, but some new screenshots of the thing in action, and a summary of its abilities from PlayStation's boss, show why it's a lot better than the old one.

It does simple stuff like let you compare profiles and trophies, like the existing app does, but then it goes and does so much more. Sony's Shuhei Yoshida tells the PlayStation Blog that you'll be able to:

  • Send and receive messages to friends, who can receive them on either the app or the PS4 itself.
  • Ditto for voice messages.
  • Receive gaming invitations from a friend on the PS4 to you, on the app.
  • Buy a game on the app and have it start downloading automatically to your PS4.
  • Watch recorded or live streaming gameplay from a friend's PS4 console.
  • "Second screen" capabilities

Some of those can be done on rival consoles, some we already knew about, but seeing it all laid out like that makes it sound like a pretty handy piece of tech.

And a surprising one. Sony has a long-running, and richly-deserved, reputation for making fantastic hardware and terrible software (XMB excepted). Anyone who's had to transfer data to a Vita, or use a Sony camera, will understand. We don't know how this performs, of course, but at least in terms of design and features, this is lightyears ahead of anything else Sony has put together on the gaming front.

The app will be free to download on both iOS and Android.

Shuhei Yoshida shows off the new PlayStation App [PlayStation]