Meta wants Quest to become the Android of VR

of Meta Quest 3 hasn’t enjoyed much time in the spotlight this year, and that probably won’t change with the latest updates to the headset’s hardware and apps. But let’s take a more intense shine to the Quest Meta anyway because something else is going on with the Quest ecosystem if you’ve been paying attention. The folks behind Quest’s software told Gizmodo that their high hopes for VR rest on making something open, diverse, and—you know—like Android.

During a brief interview, Meta’s director of metaverse entertainment content, Sarah Malkin, told me that the current plan with Quest is “more.” More apps, more experiences, and—hell—why not more headsets that the Meta doesn’t have to make itself? In April, Meta announced that it was release of Horizon OS as its own VR ecosystem and that other manufacturers like Lenovo and Asus were already producing their own headsets supporting Meta’s new system.

Malkin: We are glad that there are others who have joined us [in VR, like Apple]but we feel really confident that we’re the top place people would want to build because we’re reaching more people with more diversity.

Gizmodo: This is the customer’s choice. When you have multiple companies, different, all with the same OS, that’s why the Android model works.

Malkin: Yes, exactly. This is fair. Yes.

“What we’re continuing to put a lot of resources and effort behind is offering more and more variety, breadth and number of experiences,” Malkin said. “We feel really confident that we’re the top place that people would want to build because we’re reaching more people with more variety.”

Meta’s “metaverse” ambitions have not had one strong foot to stand on for years. The idea of ​​VR spaces was a pretty blank vision practically since Meta changed its name from Facebook. Now, with big tech’s obsession with AI at a peak, Meta Quest’s headsets have gotten a lot more open lately. Game Pass and SteamVR are now easy to access natively in Quest through separate apps. The game library is bigger than ever in Quest and the basic UI is almost in place.

So where will this “more” come from? Well, it should be from third-party app makers. So far, it has a lead in that space thanks to the longevity of the Oculus and Quest, plus its relatively low price compared to the competition, especially Apple Vision Pro. Simply put, there needs to be more things to do in Quest. The sooner the better.

What’s new in Meta Quest 3 and does anything really change?

The recent Meta updates to the Horizon environment aren’t very dramatic. They include some small feature updates, such as finally watching Netflix in the browser, instead of the older app that was up to 480p. The recently announced travel mode is also enabled. The feature makes connecting to airplane WiFi easier and reduces jitters from turbulence, all the while you’re pulling back and trying to ignore the baby behind you kicking the back of your seat. Travel mode is available under the experimental functions under the quick settings of the headphones.

Alternatively, there are some new modes for some existing apps. of Angry Birds VR: Pig Island has a mixed reality slingshot mode. Beat Saber’s OST 7 with some returning and new feature songs. There’s also a new Daft Punk-inspired neon light environment called “Collider.” Fitness app Supernatural adds mixed reality modes that allow your trainer to hang out in your living room rather than in a fuzzy, cloud-filled void.

Meta invited me to try out some of these new, albeit limited, features. Meta Quest 3 started out as a solid, wireless VR setup with some impressive AR capabilities, and despite some hiccups in the months since release, it has improved. Not “a whole new dimension” better, but a better supported and cleaner experience overall.

Supernatural’s VR workout is a much better workout than your average Defeat Saber the session. His body and hand tracking are very good, and the exercises emphasize continuous movement with your whole body rather than just flapping your arms to the side. I’ve been doing a minimal amount of boxing, and even light exercise will start to sweat, enough to cause the infamous sweat ring of the headphones around the face plate. It was the most engaging demo, but it still felt old hat. Anyone expecting something truly new from this latest round of updates may still have to wait.

At the same time, Meta began to be released Update v66 to fix some traversal distortions and improve MR’s hand-tracking capabilities of Quest 3. This also includes a new wrist-activated “hand button” to access Quest menus. This should work both within games and apps.

None of the Quests I used in the Meta demos were running v66, and our Quest 3s still haven’t received the new update. The quests I used worked fine except for a weird glitch in the main menu of Quest 3. I used $3500 Apple Vision Pro and the $500 Quest 3, and in my mind, Apple’s headset is definitely nicer with more accurate eye and hand tracking, but not seven times the price.

What should come next in the quest to win VR

That said, VR workouts won’t be everyone’s cup of tea. Nor is it watching Netflix while wearing a VR headset. None of the demos felt new or groundbreaking, but more of a reminder that the Quest 3 hardware is getting better and the Meta is still invested in VR.

Yes, that’s part of it, but there’s something else to say about recent events with Meta Quest. Horizon OS indicates that Meta is calling for partnerships. We know Microsoft and Meta are working together in some capacity, as evidenced by the black and green Quest 3 branded Xbox. Maybe we’ll learn more about that on Sunday Xbox Gaming Expo on June 9.

Apple is expected to announce a major update to visionOS for Vision Pro next week at WWDC 2024. It’s going to be pretty significant, considering the hype surrounding Apple’s next big thing accumulated in the months since his release. Supply chain analyst Ming Chi Quo reported On Wednesday, demand for Apple headphones fell sharply after the release and hasn’t improved. CEO of Meta Mark Zuckerberg tried to punch Apple earlier this year claiming that its VR technology was better than Apple’s at a fraction of the cost, but in many ways, Meta needs Apple to be in the space. Malkin said Meta wants to make lighter headphones with better battery life that are much easier to carry around or interact with in a social context. That’s exactly what Apple wants, too, although the Vision Pro is still a bit heavier than the Quest 3.

Meta needs Apple to exist so it can do what Google did all those years ago and fight back against the Cupertino tech giant with a much more open platform. Apple can still make up some ground thanks to its walled garden ecosystem and dedicated fan base, though it will need a new headset sooner rather than later. Meta, on the other hand, should continue to make HorizonOS better. Just look at how PlayStation followed access to PC to VR2 only after Meta allows users to access their Game Pass and SteamVR titles through its wireless headset. Open choice of operating system and consumer product is better in the long run. So, as a company Go spending billions of dollars (Meta reported a $3.85 billion loss for its Reality Labs division last quarter) on its metaverse ambitions, hopefully it will remember that.

#Meta #Quest #Android
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