A Smarter Guardian, Android Phone Notifications, and Improved Voice Commands in Latest Oculus Software Update

Oculus Blog
November 2, 2021

Hopefully you caught last week’s Connect presentation. If not, you can read a recap of everything we announced—or if you’ve got the time, you can watch it for yourself! There’s a lot to be excited about in the future, and not just in the long-term. We’re going to start (slowly) rolling out a new update today.

That’s right, the dust has barely settled but we’re already beginning to roll out v34, our latest software update. The highlights? More versatile Voice Commands, Guardian is getting a major upgrade with Space Sense, Android users will finally be able to see their phone notifications in VR, and more. You can find all the details below.

New Voice Commands

There’s a time for Touch controllers, there’s a time for hand-tracking, and there are times when your voice is the best input method you have available.

With v34, we’re improving Voice Commands and making them more capable of handling everyday tasks. You can now pause and play your media in Oculus TV and other select apps using your voice. Voice Commands can also help show or hide your Move stats, open your Settings tabs (like jumping straight to your WiFi options), and even answer simple questions. Sure, you could take off your headset and check the weather by looking out the window, but that’s so old-fashioned, right? Use your voice instead.

You can find a full list of Voice Commands here.

Android Phone Notifications

With May’s v29 software update, we enabled iOS users to see their phone notifications in VR. You know, actually in VR, without removing your headset or trying to peek at your phone through the little sliver of light around your nose.

We’re excited to announce that we’re rolling out the same capabilities to Android users with v34. Now you can stay connected to the outside world even as you explore myriad virtual worlds. Set-up Phone Notifications via the Oculus App, and then enable them via the Oculus App or your headset’s Settings menu. You can receive in-VR notifications for any mobile app that currently displays notifications on your phone’s lock screen.

And don’t worry. We know many of you share your headset and don’t necessarily want to share your phone notifications. Setting up Multi-User Accounts will keep your notifications safe and secure from any secondary accounts, or you can always pop into your Settings—again on either the Oculus App or in the headset—and easily disable notification sharing.

Space Sense

Resident Evil 4 released recently and hopefully you’re all enjoying it—and hopefully you don’t have a friend or loved one who thinks it would be extremely funny to sneak up on you and scare you while you’re battling Los Ganados.

But if you do have a friend like that, we’ve got good news: Space Sense is here to foil their pranks (and keep you safer in VR).

Space Sense enables you to see when objects or people intrude on your Guardian bounds. Other people, large pets, a chair that’s been dragged out of its usual spot—these objects and more should now be highlighted in your headset, surrounded by a pink-ish glow.

This is a much-requested feature and we’re excited to get it in your hands. That said, we’re still actively working on and improving Space Sense, so we’re rolling it out in v34 under the Experimental Features tab in your Settings. We’d also love to hear how Space Sense is working for you. Please send us your feedback!

Passthrough API

We also wanted to update you on Passthrough API. We provided Passthrough API Experimental to developers earlier this year, enabling them to create exciting new mixed-reality experiences that incorporate virtual content into your physical surroundings.

Now the time has come to get those experiences into your hands. With the upcoming SDK release, developers will be able to ship their mixed-reality apps to both the Oculus Store and App Lab. Experiences from Unity Labs, Spatial, YouTube VR, and more will be available soon. We can’t wait to see what else developers build, and are already hard at work on the next generation of related technologies (including Spatial Anchors, Scene understanding, and the rest of our Presence Platform capabilities) that will help make good on our metaverse vision.

That’s it for v34—but as we said, not for the year. We’re hoping to have one more software update out before 2021 is over, so stay tuned for more details!