Sony's PlayStation Vita has had a tough time cracking into major mainstream success. For a console that launched with a bang of 3G mobile access and AAA franchise titles like Uncharted, it's withered on the vine since the bottom fell out of the handheld gaming market and been left to subsist on PlayStation 3 ports and digitally distributed indie darlings. Now Sony is about to remove a few features from the system, shutting off the lights on three seldom-used apps. The built-in Maps app and the downloadable YouTube app are due for retirement, while the confusing Near app is going to be stripped down. Here's Game Informer with the news:
The Maps app, which provided access to navigation services on the device, is being phased out. This will be removed in the March update. Sony also says that some aspects of its ‘Near’ social suite will no longer function at that time. Sony has not yet specified which of the Near functions will cease to work.
Sony will also be eliminating the YouTube app from its portable console. It will no longer be supported as of April 20, and will be unavailable to download as of today, January 28.
Maps and YouTube have long-since been replaced by more convenient, more manageable mobile apps in the smartphone market (and Maps was really only useful if you own a 3G-capable Vita). Few people ever really knew was Near was all about beyond being a poor man's StreetPass-type of experience. Will you miss these apps? While YouTube may have been nice to keep around just because it's always nice to have options (my guess is that it's being removed because somebody at Sony didn't want to pay the license fee for continued access), I can't say that I'll miss any of these. I hate to see functions removed from hardware, but in this instance, these changes won't really impact how I use my Vita.