Happy (belated) new year—and hello to everyone who unboxed a brand new Quest 2 over the holidays! We have big plans for 2021, and we’re excited to get started. Today we’re beginning to roll out the v25 software update to Oculus Quest headsets.
With this update, we want to make it easier for developers to create apps for Quest—and get those creations into the community’s hands. Today we’re unveiling App Lab, a way for developers to safely distribute apps without the need for sideloading. Some of our favorite VR experiences started life as small-scale passion projects, and we think it’s important to foster that creativity and audacity in the developer community, for the health of the whole platform.
We also want to bring people together and make it easier than ever to join your friends and family in VR. That means making it easier to find your friends and family in VR. This week we’ll begin rolling out Messenger in VR, helping you communicate with the special people in your life—whether you’re looking to compete in Beat Saber, meet up and watch a performance in Venues, or just chat about what’s for dinner without removing your headset.
Keep reading for more details. And don’t worry if you don’t see the update today! As usual, we’re rolling v25 out gradually to make sure it’s a seamless transition for everyone.
For many, Quest is their first foray into VR. When we designed the Oculus Store, we designed it with them in mind. We set a high bar of quality for Quest content, creating a platform where users feel confident about the apps they purchase and developers know their hard work has a strong chance of paying off.
But many of our favorite games, games we take for granted today, started life as passion projects built by small teams pushing the boundaries of what VR could do at the time.
We want to foster that same environment on Quest—keeping the Store at the same high level of quality as ever, but enabling players and developers to explore what VR is capable of outside of those bounds as well. Today we are introducing App Lab, a new way for developers to share their creations safely and securely with Quest owners without Store approval. App Lab doesn’t require sideloading or any special setup. You just click on a link, go directly to the app, and download it. You can start exploring App Lab by checking out a few of the experiences that launched today, including:
These are undoubtedly the first of many. App Lab is designed for both exploring new ideas and for distribution. Developers can distribute their apps through links like the ones above, or send keys directly to players if they wish to carefully control access. App Lab titles are not housed in the Oculus Store, though they can be searched by exact name and found in the “App Lab” section of results. Still, it is on developers to promote their games as they see fit. SideQuest supports App Lab apps starting today, and community-focused platforms of that nature may play a bigger role in Quest’s future—without the hassle of sideloading APKs. Apps purchased from App Lab will appear in a user’s Quest library alongside their Store purchases, and will receive automatic updates just like apps in the Quest Store.
We hope App Lab will help developers reach their most engaged fans early and build a community. Early experiments are part of what made VR what it is today, and we can’t wait to see what the future holds. If you’re a developer hoping to find an audience, head over to the Developer Blog for more information about how App Lab works.
If you’ve ever danced the night away with friends in Dance Central or performed zero-G acrobatics in Echo VR, then you know the power of VR as a social platform. We believe in VR’s ability to bring people together—especially these days—and so we’re building the tools to make those experiences smoother and more accessible.
Starting this week, we will begin rolling out Messenger on Oculus to people who have logged into Quest and Quest 2 using their Facebook account. With this update, you can choose to chat with your Facebook friends anywhere they have Messenger, even if they’re not in VR. You can reach them without taking off your headset—and they can chat with you too. Write messages however you’d like, whether typing them out in VR, selecting a pre-written conversation starter, or using our voice-to-text feature. And if you’re chatting with your friends in Messenger and decide you all want to play together, you can easily create an Oculus Party so you can jump in and play the same game together.
Choosing to communicate with your Facebook friends with Messenger on Oculus doesn’t change your existing Oculus privacy settings. You can still message your Oculus friends using Oculus Chats with your existing Oculus username.
If your friends and family want to borrow your headset, you can sign out of Messenger at any time in your Messenger settings before sharing the headset with them. To sign back in, select your Messenger profile and re-enter your password.
As we said, v25 will roll out gradually, so don’t panic if it’s not there today. It’s coming! Happy new year everyone, and we hope you’ll help make this year the best one yet for VR and for the community.