Virtual reality is becoming more social with the Oculus Quest v25 software update, which adds Facebook Messenger to the list of applications available on the VR headset.
Oculus Adds Facebook Messenger
After the update, Facebook Messenger is available to anyone logged on to their Facebook account through either a Quest or Quest 2. This essentially includes everyone that owns an Oculus virtual reality headset. After, in October 2020, the company mandated that all new Oculus users and all Oculus Quest 2’s require to be logged into a Facebook account to use the device.
The new functionality will allow users to contact any of their Facebook friends with their device through Messenger, even if the other person does not have an Oculus or any VR headset. Players will be able to type messages with a virtual keyboard, select text from pre-written scripts, or even use the Oculus Quest 2’s voice-to-text function, all without needing to remove the headset.
While virtual reality is still a niche market, Oculus has become the brand in the VR space. Not only is it one of the best headsets on the market, but it is also one of the more affordable and isn’t sold out as often as its competition because more units were produced. This has led to an increasing number of third-party applications being built for the Oculus Quest.
Oculus Third Party Apps
For example, streaming services like Netflix are Oculus friendly, and they provide a unique experience to the user. Oculus devices make up 58% of all VR use on online gaming store Steam, where gamers can dive into titles like Star Wars: Squadrons and Jurassic World Aftermath in virtual reality. The Oculus has even been adopted by the iGaming industry, and some of the best slot sites such as SlotsMillion run on Oculus devices.
While the update seems to reduce the number of times a user needs to remove the headset and themselves from the world of virtual reality, there are other benefits. Part of the functionality allows gamers to send party invites via Messenger to make jumping into multiplayer games with friends more streamlined and straightforward.
“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,” said the company in a statement.
To avoid unnecessary confusion, it is essential to note that as Oculus adds Facebook Messenger it will not supersede the native Oculus Chats messaging service, which will still be available to users via an Oculus headset. Instead, there will now be two messaging options available: the public, social media-driven Facebook account, and the other will be the more private Oculus Chats that can only be shared between people who have an Oculus VR headset.
It is important to note that Facebook went to great lengths to stress that using Messenger on an Oculus device will not change any existing privacy settings for any user, which is always a concern with third-party applications.
The second major piece of news about the update is the rollout of a piece of functionality called App Lab, and it is something Oculus users should get very excited about. Essentially, due to the difficulty in making virtual reality content coupled with Facebook’s strict quality control, there were some developing concerns that smaller game designers were being boxed out of the Oculus community by overly strict quality controls on the Oculus Store.
App Lab allows developers to share new creations safely and securely with potential players without needing Oculus Store approval. It will enable developers to share demos to create hype for a new game or test out new features before fully integrating them into a new title. Best of all, it won’t require any sideloading or particular setup; developers provide a link for users to click and download the content directly to the app.
“Many of our favourite 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,” Oculus said in a statement.