As games grow ever larger, the slightly-over-400GB of storage available on the PlayStation 4's internal disk drive looks more and more cramped. One solution is to upgrade the drive, but that's a little involved, and it means having to re-download everything you had on the stock disk. A better option is on the horizon: when system software version 4.50 hits, users will be able to connect USB 3.0 hard drives up to 8TB in capacity.
Sony's blog post about the update only says that users will be able to store "content" to the external drives, but we know that it at least includes applications—certainly the largest and most important category of content for a game console. It's a little strange that Sony made gamers wait over three years for this feature. The Xbox One got a similar update in June of last year, and the Wii U could install games to external storage from day one. Even still, it's a nice addition.
Savvy gerbils need not fret over any performance penalty when using USB 3.0, because the standard PS4's internal hard drive connects to USB despite being a SATA disk. (That fact is why installing an SSD in standard PS4s makes relatively little difference in game performance and load times.) However, the PS4 Pro's disk drive connects directly to SATA 6Gbps, so a USB hard drive may be a decided step down in that case.
There are more features coming in the 4.50 update besides the provisions for external storage, of course. Sony is collapsing the needlessly-complicated notifications dialog into a single list like those found on mobile OSes and Windows 10. The Quick Menu is getting some revisions, and users will be able to set their own custom wallpapers from screenshots they've taken. Finally, owners of the PSVR headset will be able to watch 3D Blu-ray movies on their head-mounted display in 3D, which should please those two guys who like 3D movies.
Sony hasn't given a timeline for the update, but an early version of it is already headed over the intertubes to Sony's beta testers. The company says it will reveal the launch date for software version 4.50 in the coming weeks.