Near is one of several social networking apps that comes pre-installed on the PS Vita (some models not included, apparently). It uses the PS Vita's location data to determine where you are, and then lets you see who else is nearby--assuming they also have Near fired up. Depending on your settings and the settings of the other users around you, you can then see what people are playing and what their rankings are, and even send friend requests. You can also "discover" games and items, see what events are happening nearby, and more.
What You Need to Use Near
The two things you need to use Near are a PlayStation network account, and location data. You'll be able to turn on location data from the Near LiveArea (aka launch screen) when you tap the icon to start up the app. You can choose to have location data automatically launch each time you start Near, or you can do it manually. You can also turn location data on by going to the "Settings" menu and selecting "Start". then "Location Data" then selecting the checkbox next to "Use Location Data."
If you have parental controls set of your PS Vita, you may not be able to use location data, which will mean you can't use near. You can also set the amount of data near displays to other users, such as hiding your location or your PSN ID. You can change these settings in the "Settings" menu from within the Near app.
How to Use Near
To launch Near, tap its icon on your PS Vita's screen to open its LiveArea. Turn on location data if it's not already on, and select whether or not you want your location data and/or updates to refresh automatically (do that with the two little buttons to the left). Then tap the Gate (the central rectangle with the start button) to launch the app.
When the app launches, you can use the main screen for various functions. The button at the top right will update the app to display the most recent information. A bar across the middle gives hints about using Near. The row of buttons at the bottom lets you tap to see who else is around and what's going on ("Out and About"), to see the status of any nearby friends ("Friends"), to see what games and items you've found plus other information ("Discoveries"), and change your settings "Settings").
Out and About
When you select "Out and About" on the main screen it takes you to a new screen with a list of events and other things in your immediate vicinity. If you tap on of these events, you get a screen that looks a bit like a radar display. This screen shows the events location information at the top, with its icon just below. There's also a little scare happy face icon with a number next to it that shows how many other users are nearby.
Arrayed on the radar screen, showing their locations relative you (the screen includes concentric circles marking distance), you'll be able to see the avatars of the ten closest players. You can tap their avatar to see a list of games they've played recently. Tap again and you can send a friend request. If there are more than ten other users nearby, there will be a grey smiley face user icon for each group of ten.
In the bottom right, there is an icon with a crown on it. Tap that to see the rankings for the games played by the people nearby. In the lower left is a question mark icon. Tap it to pull up help information.