One of our longstanding critiques of Quest’s social features is the lack of a simple, first-party place to meet up with friends. Finally that’s set to change thanks to ‘Horizon Home’ which will enhance the existing Quest home environment with social features, allowing you to invite party members to visit, hang out, or launch into VR apps together.
For a long while now its been possible to invite Oculus friends on Quest to a party to easily voice chat with them, but not being able to simply appear in the same space as them (at least, not without both having the same third-party app) seems like a huge miss considering the power of VR to connect people at a distance.
That’s finally due to change “soon” when Oculus introduces Horizon Home which will finally imbue the Quest home environment with social features.
For now the company seems to indicate that Horizon Home won’t really look much different than the existing home environments on Quest, except for the underlying addition of friends being able to join the space, and some capabilities like the ability to watch videos and launch from the space into VR apps together.
But in the future Oculus says users will be able to customize their home. That feature is “a little further out,” and while the company hasn’t said much about what kind of customizations will be supported, it sounds a lot like the Oculus Rooms app which was available on Oculus Go and Gear VR.
The Horizon Home naming scheme aligns with Facebook’s newly envisioned branding for their metaverse-y experiences, alongside Horizon Worlds, Horizon Workrooms, and now Horizon Venues (a slight rebrand of the company’s Venues social app). The company says users can expect that Horizon experiences will feature their familiar avatars and broadly include similar interfaces and interactions for a cohesive experience between apps.
More Social Improvements on Oculus Quest
In addition to the Quest home space finally getting social features, Oculus today announced a handful of other improvements that will hopefully make the Quest social experience more seamless.
For one, the company says that social invites will appear in more places (your headset, your smartphone, and even the web), making it easier for people to see when they’ve been invited to do something in VR regardless of where they are. Similarly, Facebook Messenger voice calls are coming to Quest, making it easy to voice chat with friends whether they’re in-headset or out.
Oculus is also giving developers more tools to make social actions easier to integrate into their games. For instance, a new ‘Ask to Join’ feature will allow users outside of a game to ask a friend (that is already inside of a game) to join the session. Additionally, developers will be able to build invite functionality directly into their app’s interface (if they choose), instead of asking players to use the Quest menu.
Along with the recently introduced ability to create a VR sessions that’s sharable and joinable from a simple web link, these new capabilities, if fully adopted, ought to go a long way toward making the Quest social experience more complete and easier to use.