After talking with some people with knowledge of the PS3 system and FW architecture I was informed that actually in-game XMB already is possible with the current fw (and a few revisions back - although I don't know how far). Apparently, this ability needs to be imeplemented on a game by game bases (implementing interfaces, methods, handling game stoppage, etc).
The folks that I spoke with also pointed to this Japanese game that is available on PSN for that region that can be downloaded and played with the current fw. It shows that those hooks are present but the game needs to tie into them in order for users to have that access in a particular game. Hopefully game companies can start to implement this stuff soon for more friends access functionality but the implementation of these methods.interfaces aren't mandatory for game developers so only those who choose to provide/support it will have this functionality.
Some New features: remotely start your PS3 using an Internet-enabled PSP; access real-time PlayStation news in a scrolling window via the new Information Board; the addition of custom themes to personalize the Cross Media Bar; the ability to create music and photo playlists.