There are relatively few 2D Android apps available on the Quest Store, which seems odd since the Quest hardware runs a modified version of Android. According to Meta CTO Andrew ‘Boz’ Bosworth, Google simply isn’t interested in bringing the full Play Store of apps to Quest.

“There’s nothing preventing Android developers who have an APK running on Android phones today from bringing that into VR,” Bosworth said in a recent AMA via Instragram. “They just need to ship the APK to us, and maybe they need to do some light modification depending on how the control scheme would work, but not necessarily much after that.”

So much is clear when it comes to publishing the app directly to the Quest Store, which is the case for apps such as Peacock, Pluto TV, WhatsApp, and Instagram. But what about the millions of apps on Google’s official Play Store?

“We don’t have a way of automatically ingesting those [APKs],” Bosworth continues. “We would love for Google to bring their Play Store of apps to VR. We’ve asked them. They don’t want to do it, so it’s kind of up to the developers to do that.”

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While Google’s Play Store is chock-full of useful, oftentimes free apps, what Bosworth doesn’t mention in his AMA are some of the complications that would naturally arise from having the Play Store on Quest. Not only could it open up a host of hypothetical issues with how revenue is split, but also how developers might choose to publish their apps.

For non-subscription-based apps, Google takes a 30% revenue cut from developers, while Meta does the same for both the Quest Store and App Lab. But why would Meta want Google sneaking away revenue, or vice versa? It seems doubtful that two such prominent digital storefronts could coexist on a single device.

There’s also the matter of the Samsung-Google-Qualcomm partnership we heard about earlier this year, which is set to bring an Android-powered XR headset to market, suggesting that Google hasn’t given up on headsets despite having completely shelved both its Daydream VR platform and AR glasses Project Iris.

Whatever the case, Quest headsets are fundamentally Android devices, so enterprising users can thankfully sideload APKs fairly easily via the ever-useful SideQuest software. Granted, the onus is on the user to source the APK in the first place, but with no other way to listen to Spotify while browsing the web without needing to tether to a computer, or using a Netflix app that’s actually updated, it’s thankfully feasible.

If you’re interested in giving it a go, check out our guide on How and Why to Sideload Games on Quest, which takes you step-by-step on the process of getting both 2D and VR-native apps on your Quest headset, but also (if it isn’t apparent by now) why you’d want to do it in the first place.

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Well before the first modern XR products hit the market, Scott recognized the potential of the technology and set out to understand and document its growth. He has been professionally reporting on the space for nearly a decade as Editor at Road to VR, authoring more than 3,500 articles on the topic. Scott brings that seasoned insight to his reporting from major industry events across the globe.
  • psuedonymous

    It would also require installing and running Google Play Services in the background. Both for Play Store ToS compliance (the reason why e.g. Amazon Fire tablets lack the Play store, because they violated the ToS by not open-sourcing their Android code modifications) and because so many apps delivered through the Play Store rely on Google Play services to function properly. The latter is why ‘just sideload some Android APKs you downloaded’ will not work as an option.

  • another juan

    I don’t think anyone was seriously expecting Google giving a competitor access to their biggest asset.
    Play Store and App Store are the way Google + Apple are gonna leverage their current duopoly into the next generation devices, unless something exceptional happens.

    • Orogogus

      Google Play is now on PC, how does that fit into that strategy?

      Although, Meta can choke on it. Users of the Vive and other VR headsets wanted to buy and play Oculus Rift games on their gear, but Facebook never opened that up either. So this seems pretty hypocritical of them.

      • another juan

        Pretty sure it was Valve the one who didn’t allow support for the Oculus PC store, at least according to Palmer Luckey

        • ViRGiN

          as a valve supporter, i’m going to dismiss official source and stick to narrative that valve would never do any wrong

        • Orogogus

          “MS doesn’t make phones anymore.”

          If the idea is that Google keeps their Play Store off competitors’ hardware since people won’t buy an Android phone if they can get the apps elsewhere, I think a Surface Pro is a much more significant threat than a Quest.

        • Orogogus

          “Also, it was Valve the one who didn’t allow support for the Oculus PC store, at least according to Palmer Luckey”

          I have a reply sitting in Disqus limbo for several hours now, I think since I included a Reddit link. So without the link:

          Luckey implied that pretty strongly at one point, but I think the evidence suggests that he was either mistaken or lying.

          1. Luckey said that Oculus couldn’t get the Oculus store and apps working with the Vive without access to the Vive’s SDK. But you know, a rando made ReVive and totally got the Oculus store and apps working with the Vive and other headsets. Was that one guy just a better programmer than everyone at Oculus?

          2. Shortly afterwards, it was Oculus that tried to block ReVive. They only backed down once the developer was about to release a new bypass that would completely circumvent the Rift’s DRM, breaking it wide open for piracy. Valve never took any action against ReVive, even though Luckey suggested that Oculus wanted its apps on the Vive and Valve didn’t.

          3. But let’s say Valve really wouldn’t play ball with Oculus to let Oculus apps onto their headset. What about Microsoft, HP, HTC, Pimax, Lenovo and every other headset manufacturer? They can all run SteamVR games but none of them have access to the Oculus store. Did every one of these companies turn their nose up at Oculus? Even ones like Samsung who don’t even have their own storefront? None of them thought it would be worth the competitive advantage? Or is it more likely that Oculus just wasn’t willing to cooperate despite what Luckey said?

          4. Someone asked Gabe point blank whether Valve was blocking the Oculus store or otherwise refusing to cooperate (this was where I had a Reddit link). His answer, according to the Reddit poster, was “No.”

    • Guest

      They are just scared some glasses are going to take their duopoly of cellphones so it’s much easier for them to takeover and discontinue any treats.

  • You can already install APK’s on the Quest 2/3 without a PC or Developer account needed. My App Mobile VR Station, available in AppLab, can display the Scoped Storage dialog and Meta forgot to remove the feature to install APK’s via Scoped Storage by clicking the little 4 point arrow over the APK in your download folder. I sent in a bug report 5 months ago, it went nowhere, so I’m going to assume they don’t care. Now this won’t help apps that need Google Play Services, but you can get a bunch of different apps, including SideQuest. Also it won’t work with Quest 1, since it needs Android 12 to get Scoped Storage.

  • wheeler

    Without more details on the terms of both parties, it’s hard to draw much from Boz’s statement

  • xyzs

    Because Google plans to do an Android VR OS in front of visionOS,
    with a similar economic model as current Android.
    Why would they give that advantage to Meta for free ?

    Meta should really start to clean up their messed up ecosystem and make an OS that can run on alternative hardware if they don’t want their plateform being crushed within a few years when true competition arrives.

    • ViRGiN

      > if they don’t want their plateform being crushed within a few years when true competition arrives.
      you can read this at any point in time, and it’s never true.

  • ApocalypseShadow

    Just as I said in another article. Facebook needs to compete with what they know is coming. Apple is a cellphone provider that can easily offer their headset to cellular providers. Their apps WILL be on their headset making the transition smooth as silk from a phone to a headset and or glasses.

    Google with Samsung, which is Apple’s competitor, has apps that WILL translate over to a headset and or glasses making the transition easier for consumers to use from their Android Galaxy phones.

    Facebook is begging developers to bring those Android apps to their headset. Because they know they are not a cellphone provider, don’t have the catalog of apps that the other two future competitors do. And unlike Facebook, Apple is capable of selling hardware that is around $1,000-$1,500. Facebook couldn’t sell Quest Pro at $1,500 or at $1,000. Samsung even gets away with selling high priced phones. That’s real competition when they can do it but Facebook can’t. That’s why Quest 3 is being pushed now and into 2024 with AR. Because they have AR glasses coming that needs apps.

    Vision Pro is only a warm up to what’s coming. A cheaper Vision headset is coming that will be no different in price to an iPhone that already sells very well for $1,000 without a contract. But it will have Vision Pro features. Apple, can also pair with cellular providers to subsidize the cost over a year or two contract and those headsets will have all the popular apps, will have calling and messaging and play games and entertainment.

    This is what Facebook is scared of. Maybe they could pair off with Amazon and add those apps. Smarter thing would have been them completing their OS instead of abandoning it for Microsoft’s benefit.

    Gamers think VR is the only thing going on. They only think it’s about PC and stand alone and console VR. They better wake up. There’s a bigger war brewing right smack in their face. Quest 3 having mixed reality is more Facebook preparing developers to make AR software that can be added to glasses than being about VR and AR gaming. I love VR. But there’s more going on. And when those bigger companies jump in, Facebook has a real war coming. Laughing about $3,500 when that’s not the future price and product Apple will be selling. It’s just a high end preview.

  • eadVrim

    It would be nice to play some 2D Android board games like Soccer Stars in huge passthrough table plan. With use of finger tracking.

  • VRNerd

    That would be amazing. I remember doing this on GearVR and it was great having full Google Play store in VR.

  • Ardra Diva

    i can’t think of much in the Google Play store I want to do while wearing a visor. It’s nowhere near ready to be a workplace medium for an 8 hour workday, and if the games aren’t VR/AR, I am not much interested in playing them with a visor on my face. The visor needs to be justified as the only way the experience can be delivered, or there’s no point in it.