The various online modes for PlayStation Vita have been discussed in great detail by Sony Europe manager of R&D Phil Rogers. Speaking to Eurogamer at Develop 2011, he gave an overview of Near, Party, LiveArea, and Activity.
First up is Near, which is “a location-based gifting system” not unlike the 3DS’ SpotPass feature. Gifts can be left for others to find, and aren’t restricted to items; you could issue a challenge using Near, for instance. Party, on the other hand, offers cross-game voice and text chat for friends.
LiveArea contains the “landing point for when you start any game on PS Vita” and lets you “comment on people’s activities within the game as well as publish your messages.” Developers can also use this to communicate news. Finally, “Activity is a way for players to discuss progress,” according to Rogers. “The system automatically puts a few activities in there,” like Trophies.
Sony details PS Vita’s online modes [Eurogamer]