While we first saw the HTC Vive iOS app appear at the end of March, it had vanished by the Vive’s April 5th launch day. Now the app has returned to the App Store to keep you connected to your iPhone while inside the Vive.
We wondered previously whether or not the iOS version of the app would have additional restrictions compared to the Android counterpart, but it appears that both are equally quite limited.
One major criticism of the apps, which are designed to keep you from being isolated from your smartphone while using the Vive headset, is that they don’t support any third-party applications. That means if your Messenger or WeChat conversations are blowing up, your Vive will be none-the-wiser as you blissfully build Fantastic Contraptions.
Road to VR’s Paul James, who recently put the Android version of the app through its paces, concluded that this first attempt by HTC to bring our smartphones into VR is rather clunky.
It’s the meeting of two very different technologies at different ends of their evolutionary arcs. People are used to a seamless, smooth experience when using their smartphone because of years of iterative UI design and operating system evolutions. But VR is just starting out, and this attempt to mesh them feels somewhat clumsy. I had real trouble pairing the Samsung Galaxy S6 phone, with multiple retries and reboots required and the fact that the system requires you to reconnect manually to the headset every time you use it feels like a step people simply won’t bother with. Text responses are limited at present to pre-set, predefined options – configured from within the Android app. The HTC Vive microphone provided good enough voice quality for calls too.
All that said, it’s a start, and once it’s up and running it does indeed work. But with current functionality it feels unlikely that people will flock to using the system day to day. We’ll see where HTC take the system from here.