LiveArea UI announced for PSP2/NGP

Facebook-Xbox Live blend for all games.

LiveArea is what Sony's calling the user interface that controls the PSP2 or Next Generation Portable (NGP).

"In essence, it's Xbox Live and Facebook features embedded in the handheld's front end," reported Oli Welsh live from the NGP unveiling in Japan.

A swirling 3D lozenge-style carousel of icons contains all your games, applications and NGP features.

The LiveArea links to the PlayStation Store and takes its cues from touch controls. Switching between LiveArea and games is fast and fluid - the point is that you can hop between the two seamlessly, continually.

At a flick, you can communicate with your friends using LiveArea while tracking their progress in the game you're playing. That's handled by the Activity log, which watches specifically for accomplishments in games. When it sees one, a possibility for communication pops up. Perhaps you can send your friend a message telling them how rubbish they are.

"LiveArea adds depth to the traditional entertainment experience," Sony promised.

LiveArea is a clear indication of Sony's networked goals with NGP, which uses mobile networks to ensure a constant internet connection.

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