updated 01:20 pm EDT, Tue August 18, 2009
PS3 3 Firmware
Sony at its Gamescom keynote today expanded some of its non-gaming services with the more formal launch of the 3.0 firmware for the PlayStation 3. The new update has a much improved interface that provides quicker access to the news section (now known as "What's New") as well as to shortcuts to the latest games and other downloads without having to leave the regular XMB front end. Users can also now see messages from friends directly from their profiles instead of having to burrow deeper into the system.
Other touches include extra avatar icons, including paid ones from the online store, as well as animated PS3 themes and an always-on status indicator to let users know how many friends are online and whether any messages are waiting. No timetable has been given for the 3.0 update other than that it should arrive "soon."
Simultaneously, European customers will now have access to buying and renting movies and TV shows much like their American counterparts. Pricing and the exact selection aren't available, though the service should expand in November. UK customers are also getting access to BBC iPlayer for watching recent TV shows and should see it as early as September.