Press shots can make anything look fun
Some six years ago, I wrote a version of this very article, lamenting the fact only really rich people had 1080p TV sets, and even they had very little to watch on them, making 1080p an 'unused console feature'. Well, now look at us! 720p is starting to look visibly bitty, and you can buy an 8K TV if you really want to. Heck, my wristwatch has a higher resolution than most PSone games. Suffice to say, it might just be time to update this article. So I have.
These are the console features you sort of know are there but never actually use. Or the ones you tried once, liked and then never touched ever again. The Wii News Channel was the perfect example, with its gimmicky, spinning 3D globe, but it's been switched off, so it's gone. (Un)fortunately, there are plenty of new 'apps' as we like to call them now, which may well suffer the same fate. Use 'em or lose 'em...
Xbox One's 'Skype chat while watching a movie'
Look at these people, talking noisily to each other through a movie, just like they love to do at the cinema. That's the power of Xbox One. Yes, the ability to snap Skype and a movie is a totally new-gen feature, but JUST STOP AND THINK ABOUT IT FOR A MINUTE. If you're looking at your friends, you're not watching the movie. If you're talking to your friends, you can't hear the movie. Please, just watch the movie or talk to your friends.
THE PLAYROOM on PS4
This is an Augmented Reality suite that works with PlayStation Eye. You probably haven't got one of those either. It's 'five minutes of fun' according to the one person who's tried it, which isn't bad at all for free. But I would love to see the family that sits round the TV every night and loads it up for another evening of hilarity.
Nintendo Zone on 3DS
This is such a great idea in theory. You go to a public event or place and Nintendo has set up a 'Nintendo Zone', which you access through a portal app on your 3DS and can download exclusive content, like a demo or a secret Pokemon or something. In reality, the only times I ever saw there was a Nintendo Zone alert was firstly from hours previously when I had passed the spot, and secondly when the content on offer was so disappointing, I can't even remember what it was. Great success?
PlayMemories on PS4
"Upload as many photos as you want. Easily share your memorable photos with your family and friends with Sony's cloud-based photo and video service." Yyyyyyyy no.
PS Vita's Calendar app
There's absolutely nothing wrong with this app. It syncs with Google Calendars if you want, takes mere seconds to enter an appointment and looks lovely on the Vita's crisp display. It's just not what people use their Vita for. People use their Vitas for Persona, Hotline Miami and Persona. Not planning their next engineer visit for a gas safety inspection.
3DS' AR cards
Every 3DS console came with a bunch of small cards with special codes on them that allowed the 3DS to see their position in 3D space, allowing you to take photos of Augmented Reality scenes. It was fun for the day I spent making an article about it at the time, but was never used in anything ever again. That said, I still carry my AR cards with my 3DS, just in case I need them for something vitally important one day. I'm sure you're exactly the same.
Smartglass for Xbox One
Smartglass is only used brilliantly in one recent game I can think of, and even that's not through the Smartglass App itself. If the troubleshooting guide is anything to go by (yes, mine didn't work), the Fallout 4 Pip-Boy companion uses the Smartglass connection to communicate with the Xbox One. Being able to strap your phone to your wrist and use it as an inventory, skill tree manager and map is a fantastic idea. But the Smartglass app itself, as a whole 'companion to TV' thing and extra screen for the Xbox One, hasn't embedded in our minds in the slightest. If you still have yours installed, I bet you haven't used it in months.
PS Vita's Email app
There's an email app for Vita. If anybody ever did actually have a 3G contract going to keep their Vita online, the chances of that contract still going and the Vita still being carried around in their pocket are smaller than that of successfully navigating an asteroid field. And we all know how probable that is, right 3-PO?
Sixaxis in DualShock 4
Yes, believe it or not, DualShock 4 does have SixAxis functionality built into it. You know, the tilty, pad-waving tomfoolery that we were led to believe was the future of gaming back at the dawn of PS3. You can use it on games like Flow, but it's otherwise been abandoned so completely (being coded out of the Uncharted remake, for example), it may as well not be there, and instead save us some money on the price of a pad. What an odd thing to say about the future of gaming, eh?
Trend Micro Web Security for PS3/PS4
A trial version of this is built into the PlayStations' firmware, and can be switched on whenever you like. No, seriously, it's right there. You probably didn't realise this because it may as well not exist. Buried in the settings menu, it isn't obvious enough to be of use to the sort of person (parents mainly) who might actually want to use it, and for everyone else, there's no way they're going to switch it on. It's a lovely idea, but in this state, pretty much pointless.
Wii U Chat
Even if you know someone who also has a Wii U, the chances of you using your consoles to talk to each other via that instead of Apple's Facetime, or Skype's Skype or Google's Hangouts are tiny. And even if you did get that flashing button on the GamePad to tell you that you have an incoming call, would you really stop your game to answer it? I'd love to see the figures on that application's usage. Reggie Fils-Aime's exuberant daily use probably makes up 80% of it.
Near for PS Vita
This was probably meant to trump Nintendo's StreetPass system, allowing PS Vita owners to see other Vita owners' locations nearby, learn what they're playing and maybe even play with them and unlock goodies. However, Sony took Google Maps functionality out of it, which - reading between the lines - probably means there weren't enough people using it to justify the license. And little wonder. Try opening it today and, after a basic explanation, the second thing the app tells you is that YOU ARE ENTERING INTO A LEGAL BINDING CONTRACT. You must also be 18 to agree to it. Also your location will be automatically recorded every 30 minutes. Get in the sea. Near, that is, not you. If you got in the sea, it would know in half an hour. But that's OK because nobody else would because nobody uses Near.
You can browse the internet on 3DS. And a bit faster on New 3DS too. The only reason anyone ever opens this app is to check that the internet connection is working properly. Right? Does anybody with access to any other browser seriously use their 3DS browse the internet? No. 3DS is a phenomenally good gaming machine, but nobody ever associates it with even an adequate web browser.
Kinect as a voice recognition tool is excellent and genuinely useful. But as of the time of writing, the device feels abandoned. The wave of Kinect-only games has receded (hopefully not in a 'there's a tsunami on the horizon' way the real sea does) and the 'Better with Kinect' tagline has fallen out of favour too. And all the promised features like the console 'seeing' who is sat where in your living room and setting the on-screen characters' positions accordingly simply hasn't become commonplace. You can quite happily never connect a Kinect to your console, and everybody is totally fine with that. A far cry from the "Xbox One is Kinect" rhetoric from the console's launch.