The PlayStation Vita might be Sonyís latest pitch at the hardcore handheld gamer but they would be mad to ignore the benefits of an app ecosystem, which Apple has so strongly demonstrated. They know this, of course, and are meeting that requirement head on with a little selection of free applications which plug the average Vita user into some of the most used web services and social networks available.

Twitter, FourSquare and Flickr are some of the most used apps ó and services ó on the iPhone and Android so it makes sense that these are Sonyís first port of call for their Vita-based non-gaming applications. These three apps will be free for users to download from the store as soon as it goes live (Facebook is due too, but we didnít get it yet). So letís take a quick look at them.

First up is LiveTweet for Twitter. The micro-blogging sensation that keeps us checking smartphones or procrastinating from work all day. The Vita app is functional, although itís a long way from being a rival to some of the iPhone apps available. Itís still early days though and we would hope for some revisions to be made to design and functionality as time goes on. All of the serviceís most popular aspects are there and the snappy on-screen keyboard is quite nice to tap out little 140-character tweets with.

As you can see in the screenshots, there is good support for following conversation threads as well as all the options you would expect for checking on your timeline, messages and mentions. What there isnít is the ability to run multiple accounts. So, for example, I canít run my personal Twitter account and TheSixthAxisí from the Vita at the same time. Thatís probably not a major concern for most users but something that is in most other Twitter apps Iíve used.

What Iíll use LiveTweet for most: Tweeting screenshots taken with the Vita to show off my latest in-game creation, moment of glory or memorable gaming moment.

Next we have Flickr, Yahoo!ís photo-stream service. This is undoubtedly included to make use of the Vitaís cameras but in all honesty, the image quality of those photos probably isnít worth sharing with the world very often. Itís a beautifully designed app though, with the option to move each little module up or down the applicationís home screen so you can essentially personalise it so your most used sections are nearer the top.

With Flickr, you can also view other peopleís photo streams and comment, just as you might on the website or smartphone apps. The Vitaís gorgeous screen makes viewing photos a pleasure, although we would like to some auto-rotate functionality from the gyroscopic controls in a future update ó portrait aspect images are severely scaled down to appear vertically on the wide screen.

What Iíll use Flickr for most: Showing off my uploaded iPhone photos (of cookies, mostly) to family and friends on the Vitaís big bright screen.

Completing the trio of apps is FourSquare. Iíll hold my hands up here and say that Iím a new sign up to FourSquare, just so I can use it on my Vita (job done, FourSquare dudes!) so I canít claim to know a lot about the service in general. What I can tell you is that the Vita application is nice and simple for a newbie like me to navigate. I was quickly able to find my way around and check in while waiting for a takeaway pizza. Iím not sure what this achieves just yet but Iím assured that I could, one day, become a mayor of somewhere and that makes me feel important (job done, FourSquare dudes! Again).

What Iíll use FourSquare for most: Checking in at local game shops while Iím buying Vita games and picking up PSN Store credit.

Source: PS Vita’s Social Apps Explored | Gaming News and Opinion at