Facebook is offering Oculus App Lab. The platform offers early access to Virtual Reality (VR) apps for the Oculus Quest and Oculus Quest 2 VR standalone gaming headset.
Oculus headset owners will have access to VR apps that are currently under active development. The App Lab is an initiative that opens up access to VR apps that are not fully ready for commercial deployment.
App Lab entries do not require Oculus Store approval or sideloading:
Oculus is readying version 25 of the software update for Oculus Quest and Oculus Quest 2 Virtual Reality standalone gaming headset. The most noteworthy change for both developers and users is App Lab.
The Oculus App Lab is an app distribution method. Through the initiative, users will have access to VR Apps that haven’t secured Oculus Store approval. Moreover, Oculus headset owners need not sideload apps.
— Oculus Developers (@Oculus_Dev) February 2, 2021
Interestingly, Oculus has branched out the App Lab. This means the platform is essentially independent from the direct control of the main Oculus Store.
According to Oculus’ Press Release, the company, “wants to foster a community where developers can openly and easily share their in-progress creations with Quest owners.”
— Android Central (@androidcentral) February 2, 2021
In its current iteration, the App Lab is quite open and accommodating. It currently grants developers the permission to open their apps up to the general public to try. App developers can also choose to generate unique access keys that grant access only to a select few people.
For the average Oculus Quest headset owner, downloads from the new platform will appear in the Quest library of apps and games. The initiative can be likened to an early access platform for VR games and apps.
It is, however, important to note that the platform appears to be experimental. Hence, there would be bugs, glitches, crashes, etc.
Oculus App Lab has 10 titles already available with more on the way:
The Oculus App Lab requires a developer to submit their creations. Thereafter, the apps or games are available through a URL. Searching for the title on the Oculus Store should also work.
Interestingly, SideQuest will also host Oculus App Lab titles. Moreover, there’s a high probability of content, already on the platform, securing Oculus App Lab support.
Happy that we're one of 10 apps on @oculus's new App Lab platform!
Especially excited that the app won't be hidden in "Unknown Sources" anymore :) https://t.co/nFnUVKxfj7
— Azad Balabanian | Ազատ Պ. (@Azadux) February 2, 2021
SideQuest has been quite popular with Oculus headset owners as it allowed sideloading of apps and games. But the App Lab initiative will make it extremely easy for users to try some of the apps and games hosted there without sideloading. Interestingly, SideQuest is also a participant in the intiative.
📢📢#vr devs "With the launch of App Lab and greater Quest application distribution capabilities, the Quest Publishing Access application process is no longer necessary and has been closed." !
— Amy Louise Doherty (@amyloudoherty) February 3, 2021
Oculus has indicated that the App Labs already has 10 titles for its VR headset users to try. Given the experimental nature of the platform, some functions can momentarily cause problems.
Besides the Oculus App Labs, the Facebook-owned company is also offering Facebook Messenger for VR, Stationary Guardian 2.0, as well as easy access to Passthrough shortcut which activates the outward-facing cameras. Additionally, Oculus has also allowed pairing a Bluetooth mouse.
[Update] Here is the complete list of all 12 games currently available through Oculus App Lab. While some of them are free, many of them are paid apps. The payment process is similar to the Oculus Quest store.
Ancient Dungeon Beta (Free) by ErThu
Baby Hands ($20) by Chicken Waffle
Crisis VRigade ($6) by Sumalab
Crisis VRigade 2 ($20) by Sumalab
Deisim ($8) by Myron Software
Descent Alps – Demo (Free) by Sutur
Gym Class (Free) by IRL Studios Inc
MarineVerse Cup ($20) by MarineVerse
Puzzling Places – Beta (Free) by realities.io Inc
Spark AR Player (Free) by Facebook
Smash Drums Demo (Free) by PotamWorks
Zoe (Free) by apelab