12 Major New Features Oculus Quest Has Received Since Launch

The Entire VR Industry in One Little Email

The Daily Roundup is our comprehensive coverage of the VR industry wrapped up into one daily email, delivered directly to your inbox. 

Since its launch in 2019 Oculus Quest has represented a major shift in Facebook’s VR strategy by moving away from the PC. Quest 2, which launched in October 2020, has become the most popular VR headset on the market. Sensing traction, the company has been aggressively updating the headsets with new features, making them better they were at their launch. Here’s a look at the biggest updates so far.

Note: Some of these features are still ‘experimental’ and may not be available to all users. Make sure your headset is up to date to access the latest features available to you.

Hand-tracking

Hand-tracking first came to the original Quest in late 2019, offering users and developers a controllerless option for input on the headset. While there’s a handful of hand-tracking games available on the headset, the entire Quest menu, including the Oculus browser, can be controlled completely by your hands. This is really handy when you want to do something in the headset that doesn’t really need the precision of controllers (like watching videos).

Oculus Link & Air Link

While Quest 2 became the most popular VR headset in use on Steam just a few months after its launch, the original Quest couldn’t even connect to a PC when it first hit the market!

Today, both Quest and Quest 2 can connect to a PC to play PC VR games either with a cable (Oculus Link) or wirelessly (Air Link). Air Link is technically still in beta and is cumbersome to enable, so we’ve got a full guide here.

Up to 120Hz Refresh Rate on Quest 2

Like the original Quest, Quest 2 launched with a default refresh rate of 72Hz. However, the headset has been steadily updated to support faster refresh rates—first 90Hz and today up to 120Hz. A faster refresh rate means a smoother image which reduces latency and can improve comfort and immersion. It’s up to developers to choose which framerate their application uses, and most still use 72Hz, but having the range of options makes Quest 2 a more flexible headset.

The original Quest is still stuck at its initial maximum of 72Hz, purportedly because it was only certified for that rate by regulatory agencies; increasing the refresh rate would have required recertification.

Fitness Tracking

The v23 update brought ‘Oculus Move’ to Quest and Quest 2. The feature works a bit like a FitBit or Apple Watch by using your movements to estimate your calorie burn.

Beyond just a gaming device, Facebook has been pushing the fitness angle on Quest and Quest 2, and the feature naturally pairs well with movement-focused applications like Beat SaberOhShape, and Supernatural.

Bluetooth Mouse & Keyboard Support

If you want to achieve any sort of productivity in a VR headset, a keyboard and mouse is a must. Luckily Quest and Quest 2 now have the ability to connect to a bluetooth mouse and keyboard.

To pair a bluetooth device to Quest go to Settings > Experimental, and then find the Bluetooth Pair button which will open a dialogue to display nearby bluetooth devices to connect to.

Of course you can’t use the keyboard or mouse in typical VR games, but they’ll definitely help you navigate the Oculus Browser much more quickly, or you can even use an app like Virtual Desktop to access your desktop computer (PC or Mac) remotely, and use the paired mouse and keyboard for real productivity work.

Desk, Couch, & Keyboard Tracking

Since the start, Quest’s Guardian feature allowed players to outline their playspace to track the edges of where they can safely enjoy their VR games. But over time, Oculus has added the ability to track more than just the playspace.

Today you can track the position of a desk, couch, and even a keyboard. But why would you want to?

While most VR experiences are designed for a large and open playspace, for some you might prefer to sit on your couch or pull up to your desk.

For example, if you just want to kick back and watch some YouTube in VR, you’ll probably want to be seated. If you set up your couch to be tracked in your headset, you can actually see a representation of the couch in (or even outside of) your usual playspace. If you walk over to the virtual couch and sit down, the Guardian system will understand what you’re doing instead of complaining that you’re outside of the boundary. Better yet, it will ask if you want to switch to couch mode, and automatically move the Oculus menu in front of you for easy viewing.

Desk tracking works similarly. You can tell the system when your desk is, and when you walk over to the desk it will ask you if you’d like to switch to desk mode, which will automatically move the Oculus menu over to the desk. This is especially handy in combination with keyboard tracking.

Keyboard tracking detects a keyboard in front of you and makes it appear inside of your virtual space, along with a visual representation of your hands (to make it easier to type). Unfortunately keyboard tracking only currently works with a specific keyboard (the Logitech K830 [Amazon]), though Oculus says its working to add tracking for more keyboards in the future.

Passthrough Background & Shortcut

While the Quest and Quest 2 have a ‘passthrough’ view that makes it easy to set up your Guardian boundary by simply tracing around your playspace, the view is also really convenient for quick glances outside of the headset (like to pick up your controllers or to make sure nobody has walked into the playspace).

Fortunately Oculus has made it easier to access the passthrough view at any time by double tapping the side of the headset. You can even do this in the middle of playing a game! Enable the feature by going to Settings > Guardian > and turning on Double-tap for Passthrough.

Better yet, you can even set the passthrough view as your VR ‘background’ instead of a virtual environment. Although it might seem really cool to be transported to another room as soon as you put on your headset, using the passthrough view as the background makes the whole transition in and out of VR more seamless. With the passthrough view as your background it’s easy to pick up the controllers after putting on your headset, instead of feeling around blindly for them or dangling them from your wrists.

You can enable the passthrough view as your default background by going to Quick Settings (click on the clock in the menu bar), then click the eye icon to enable ‘Passthrough Home’.

Voice Commands & “Hey Facebook”

Voice commands are the easiest way to launch or search for VR apps and do lots of things on Quest or Quest 2—it’s hard to imagine the feature wasn’t available right out of the gate!

With voice control you can double-tap the Oculus button (make sure double-tap is enabled in Settings > Device > Voice Commands) to prompt the headset to listen, at which point you can ask to do a wide range of actions, like launching specific apps, searching the web, taking a screenshot, navigating through the menus, changing the volume, or even asking which friends are online. Here’s a full list of things you can do with voice commands on Quest.

Oculus also eventually added a hands-free ‘wake word’ for voice commands on Quest, though oddly they chose the phrase “Hey Facebook.” You can enable the feature by going to Settings > Experimental > and then enable “Hey Facebook.” This is especially useful for using voice commands with hand-tracking, since there’s no menu button that you can easily double-tap.

Facebook Messenger

Although Quest has long supported a chat system for you and your friends in the headset, it wasn’t until recently that Oculus added Facebook Messenger proper.

Now you can access the same friends and conversations you’d expect to see on the Facebook Messenger phone app, which can make it easier to communicate with friends who aren’t in VR at the moment. You can even send them invites to VR right in a Messenger chat.

The Facebook Messenger account is tied to whichever Facebook account you use to sign into the headset.

To find Facebook Messenger on Quest, click on the ‘People’ icon on the menu bar. On the left of the panel, click the chat bubble icon to access Messenger. If you want to switch to the older version of chat and your Oculus friends list, you can switch between Oculus chat and Facebook Messenger by clicking the corresponding avatar picture at the top left of the panel.

Smartphone Notifications Inside the Headset

It’s been a long time coming, but it’s finally possible to see your iPhone notifications inside your Quest headset. That means no more missed calls, important emails, or urgent texts.

Unfortunately this feature is only available for iOS devices for now, but Oculus says they’re working to add support for Android as well. Here’s a detailed guide to enabling smartphone notifications on Quest.

If you’re getting really lost in a game and the notifications are bothering you, you can open Quick Settings (click the clock in the menu bar) and turn on Do Not Disturb (moon icon) which will silence all notifications on the headset. This might also be a good idea if you’re going to lend the headset to someone else to try.

Multiple Accounts & Library Sharing

Given that Oculus headsets now require a Facebook account for setup, it’s a good thing that Quest and Quest 2 now support multiple accounts too. For families with multiple people using the headset, this makes it easy to separate game progress, friends lists, chats, and settings.

To enable multiple accounts, go to Settings > Experimental > Multiple Accounts. This will add an ‘Accounts’ section to the Settings panel. Then access the new Accounts section where you can add up to three additional Facebook accounts, and you can choose to share the library of VR apps from the main account so that the other accounts don’t need to re-purchase the same apps.

App Lab

For a long time the only VR content that you could install on Quest (without a complicated method involving plugging into a PC), was whatever was available on the official Quest store. But that left out many lesser-known and experimental VR apps that didn’t get formal approval from Oculus.

Luckily Oculus has since introduced App Lab, which is sort of like an official ‘shadow store’ of Quest apps. That’s because anyone is allowed to put their VR app on App Lap without a special green light from Oculus (provided the apps follow the company’s usual content policies). One developer even put a really boring VR app on App Lab just to prove it could be done.

The only difference between the main Quest store and App Lab is that apps on the latter are ‘unlisted’, which means you can’t browse through them like you can on the main Quest store. The only way to install them is to have the exact name of the app you’re looking for, or the URL to its page. Luckily sites like App Lab DB act as a catalog for App Lab apps.

Installing App Lab apps on Quest is easy as long as you know which one you’re trying to install. If you’re inside the headset, you can find the game you want by searching in the Quest store, but only if you know the exact name of the app. Otherwise you can browse to the app’s store page outside of your headset—for example, Gorilla Tag—and click the button to install it to your headset.

Continue on Page 2: Upcoming Quest Features »

Source: Read Full Article