Instead of taking you right to your library of installed apps, Meta is making yet another perplexing change to the Quest landing page in v57.

Since the earliest days of Meta’s VR platform, the company has been seemingly obsessed with not putting your library of VR apps front-and-center.

Instead the first thing you see when you put on a headset from the company, or launch its companion smartphone app, is some kind of dynamic ‘feed’ with content you weren’t looking for in the first place.

The Ever Changing ‘Explore’ Page

For a long time when putting Quest on your head Meta made you look at ‘Explore’, an algorithmically-curated assortment of disparate content that was not your library of installed apps.

The current Explore landing page | Photo by Road to VR

Seemingly forever unhappy that people don’t love the Explore page, Meta has constantly reimagined it over the years, changing the layout what seems like every six months. I swear every time I’m finally used to it, it changes.

And once again, it will change.

In the newest Quest v57 update Meta is replacing the Explore landing page with a new and freshly confusing ‘Horizon Feed’, which is also not your library of installed apps.

Sensibly, you might think the Horizon Feed would contain only content from Horizon Worlds, acting as a sort of portal for you to jump into the company’s miniverse. But no, apparently in Horizon Feed you’ll find all manner of games, apps, and of course, Reels!

The new Horizon Feed landing page | Image courtesy Meta

Yes, Reels… the company’s short-form 2D video content that’s designed for quick and casual viewing on a smartphone. Certainly when I put on my headset that’s what I want to see—not my library of installed apps.

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Below the Fold

Even the headset’s companion smartphone app, the ‘Meta Quest’ app, doesn’t want to make it easy to access your library of installed apps. Instead, the first thing you see when you launch the app is a smattering of algorithmically-curated content—a feed of course—that you weren’t looking for when you put your headset on in the first place.

Did you know that you can actually remotely launch VR apps on Quest right from the smartphone app? It’s incredibly convenient.

Or it could be, but most people don’t even know that’s possible because to even find your library of installed apps you need to launch the smartphone app, click ‘Menu’ (the last option on the toolbar), then scroll down below the fold to finally find ‘My Library’. Counting from the top of the page, it’s the 17th item down the list of Menu items. It has moved progressively further and further down the page down the years.

Those apps you hand-picked, bought, and installed? Oh yeah, they’re down here on the last page.

Literally ‘Parental Supervision’ and ‘Help and Support’ are placed higher on the list than your library of installed apps.

Does Meta really think that Parental Supervision (something which doesn’t even apply to many users), and Help and Support (how often do you think people need help for this product), should be easier to reach than the user’s library of installed apps?

Feed Me

I guess we shouldn’t be surprised that Meta has an obsession with algorithmically-curated feeds. It’s the thing that defines the company’s core products (ie: Facebook, Instagram), and small changes to their feed algorithm can have major influence over how long people stay on those platforms and how much they engage.

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But here’s the core problem with Meta’s feed obsession. While casual and even mindless scrolling is the norm on smartphones—devices which can be engaged and disengaged with in a matter of seconds—this couldn’t be further from the truth for VR headsets.

Anyone putting on a VR headset already has a damn good reason to bother putting it on in the first place.

They already know what they want to do; getting between them and that thing is just compromising the user experience. If you want to hit them with a feed, do it after they’re done with the thing they intended to do in the first place. And while you’re at it… maybe instead of hiding their library of installed apps—you know, the content they hand-picked and paid for—why not make it easier for the user to launch them in the first place so it’s easier for them to return?

Now of course people at Meta are reading this and saying ‘we’ve got all these stats that show that people really click on the stuff in the feed!’ I’m sure you do… and it’s because that’s the thing you’re constantly putting in front of their face.

Metrics will lead you astray if you aren’t measuring the right things. You’d better believe that friction—the process of putting on the headset and getting to the thing you actually want to do—is and has long been one of VR’s biggest issues. If that’s not what you’re optimizing for (these feeds certainly aren’t) then you’re just crippling the overall user experience.

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It’s the people that don’t come back to the headset that you should be most carefully observing, not looking to see if you can steer someone to a different piece of content after they’ve already decided to put the headset on.

Vision Pro shows your apps right when you put on the headset… how novel | Image courtesy Apple

Standing in stark contrast to Meta’s approach is Apple Vision Pro. When you put on the headset, what’s the very first thing you see? Your library of installed apps.

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Ben is the world's most senior professional analyst solely dedicated to the XR industry, having founded Road to VR in 2011—a year before the Oculus Kickstarter sparked a resurgence that led to the modern XR landscape. He has authored more than 3,000 articles chronicling the evolution of the XR industry over more than a decade. With that unique perspective, Ben has been consistently recognized as one of the most influential voices in XR, giving keynotes and joining panel and podcast discussions at key industry events. He is a self-described "journalist and analyst, not evangelist."
  • Dragon Marble

    It’s the same thing when you turn on the PS5. It’s not just Meta; they all want to feed you.

    • ViRGiN

      Just like steam by default, plus there is a popup ad trying to get you to buy new games.

      • Ben Lang

        Steam at least lets you select your landing page.

        • ViRGiN

          Since when?
          Steam app is so polished, they have to stop support for Windows 7 users, of which there are more than all PCVR combined.

          Steam launched September 12 2003 – exactly 20 years ago. We should compare services of similar age.

          • Ben Lang

            Can’t remember when it was added but I’ve had it set for at least several years.

            Settings > Interface > Start Up Location > Library

          • ViRGiN

            It’s a hard topic to find, especially since valve is against history preservation and don’t allow Google or web archive to keep copies of their pages, but i found topic from late 2015 asking how to change this behavior and the solution was not built into the steam itself.

            That indicates it’s a fairly new option that was missing for well over a decade. Quest series isn’t even half of that.

        • JanO

          Let the user decide of the landing page, both when putting on the HMD and after quitting a game is what Meta should do. Give value to your user base… While I understand they want to sell more content, the store button is easy to find and burnt in the menu bar anyway…

          It seams that after some effort to reduce various friction points, they started to add some that didn’t exist in the first place…

          Furthermore, when you access your library, they’ve made it so you can’t configure anything and it’s getting downgraded with every “update”. Things like not being able to remove demos and app you’ve tried but disliked are a major pain point.

          Meta is clearly not getting that its current user base are gamers. The company seems to believe in a VR for everyone, everywhere, all the time dystopia that simply isn’t here yet. And in the mean time, they shit all over those who got them where they are…

          WWJCD? Well, he left and I understand why. I have a feeling that a lot of us will eventually do the same…

    • Ad

      I don’t think it’s as bad from what I’ve seen, but it’s terrible when anyone does it and particularly dangerous in VR when you’re boxed in and the device isn’t just a games console.

      • Dragon Marble

        I don’t see elevated danger just because you are in VR. I think it’s the opposite. Compared to social media, for example, Meta stands to benefit more by opening you up (so you buy more apps) than boxing you in (so you end up playing Beat Saber over and over again).

  • Max-Dmg

    I bet its still not possible to delete apps yet, and you need to use the filter. I dont even think they are aware of it lol.

  • scottosaur

    I don’t hate the concept of a landing “Feed” — it’s a way for sales and new apps and media to get highlighted. But Meta’s implementation just isn’t great. At a minimum, it needs to make it quicker to get back to whatever your last few used apps are.

  • Got a great idea for Meta, hear me out… use more than one screen at once.
    Make the discover page hover above the app window, make friends and chat show up to the left and to the right by default if you have to have Discover open. Options people, options!

    • Ben Lang

      If only we had the technology

  • Foreign Devil

    I actually don’t mind the feed for seeing if there’s some new VR videos of interest. But don’t be filling the feed with flat videos! I go into VR to watch VR videos!

    • Foreign Devil

      *stereoscopic videos.

    • Only trolls hide comments

      Same. My complaint is that there’s not enough new content.

  • FrankB

    Well said. Also, why can we still not delete demo apps from our cluttered libraries that we have long since uninstalled?

  • Ben Lang

    I think that’s a global number meant to entice people to participate?

  • So, so true. Now if only someone from Meta read this and actually took note of what VR users actually want…

  • Guest

    What? You have to be online to use your headset??? They are going to wreck the perception of VR for millions of people…

    • ViRGiN

      Nope, their business is to connected billions of people online.
      Everyone is online 24/7, being off the grid is not a real issue.
      And the headset does work offline.

    • CrusaderCaracal

      You don’t

  • Oh god, they’re going to show Reels in there?? Because the first thing I want to do when I finally find a good slice of time to get immersed in a VR world, is get sucked back into the doom scroll. ><

  • Hussain X

    Even though I end up going straight to my library of apps when I put my headset on, I’d still prefer a feed, events, promotions to be on main page. I know what’s in my library. I’m going to go there most likely anyway. But I don’t want to miss out on things I may be unaware of just because I have to look go look for the feed/promotions which I might not make the effort to.

    It’s counter intuitive I know. But it should be the way. Helps people discover new things to do, that they may not know about instead of being shown what they already know (the library). Helps games/events/videos a lot too to get randomly discovered. If people don’t accidentally see & try new games/events/videos, etc, then people might complain there’s not much to do in VR and also means events don’t get filled, games don’t get played, videos don’t get watched leading to even less games/events/videos in future.

    • Ben Lang

      The best place for them to try to put discovering content in front of people is the smartphone app. By the time people put on the headset they already know what they want to do.

      • ViRGiN

        VR/entertainment needs these cheap tricks. Imagine if you could set Beat Saber as auto-launch on headset startup. People would forget other things even exist.

        I’d love _options_, but it should be the feed by default.

      • Christian Schildwaechter

        That depends a lot on your definition of “best”, as it could mean both “most user friendly” or “most company friendly”. I agree with everything you say and am extremely annoyed by the way the library is continuously made less usable. But I assume that this is in no way an accident or misinterpretation of user needs, and am not even sure that making it more user friendly would be a good idea for the platform.

        Now of course people at Meta are reading this and saying ‘we’ve got all these stats that show that people really click on the stuff in the feed!’ I’m sure you do… and it’s because that’s the thing you’re constantly putting in front of their face.

        It’s probably more of a “we’ve got all these stats that show that people just ignore all the stuff unless we force it upon them in the feed.” I have a rather large library and use my Quest pretty much only to access it directly, doing all app browsing on the web or the mobile app, but that not necessarily the norm. Quest users seem to buy only a few apps on average, and with many enthusiasts buying a lot, the median library size is probably five titles or less, with lots of people buying none and only ever using very few free ones.

        The design might be driven by an urgent need to get the average user to check out content at all before leaving forever. This is annoying for those that already selected and bought content, but with a generally low user retention that might be the lesser evil. You’ve not only bought the hardware, but also already invested time and money into buying lots of apps, so it is rather unlikely that you will be so annoyed by an intentionally obstructive UI that you stop using the Quest. Losing someone less committed is much more likely and also more expensive, as they haven’t compensated the subsidized hardware price with software sales yet. Given how data obsessed Meta is, I’m pretty sure they measured how many users give up due to the buried library compared to how many engage with the spamming, and the spamming wins.

        Similar to spam, pop-up windows or non-skippable ads, the only way to get rid of them would be if people refused to use the services that relied on them. Like everybody switching to Pico due to a more user friendly library presentation, which is unlikely to happen. But as long as the platform has a problem to get users to engage with content in the first place, and those that voluntarily actively engage had to learn to be rather tolerant regarding the many inconveniences VR causes anyway, forcing an endless stream of what is effectively advertising might actually benefit the platform due to more engagement, software sales and thereby more software development. Just like advertising is a necessary evil.

        Annoying people to nudge them to buy stuff is of course a horrible interface design objective, and both intend and incompetent will be part of the reason, but that’s at least partially the price for using a low-cost platform, where the hardware sales price doesn’t cover all the costs: you’re not only the customer, but also the product, and your time/attention is part of the price. In Google vs. Apple terms, the way to get better UIs that serve the users instead of the company would be higher device and software prices, and I doubt that’s a valid option with the current market size.

      • Dave

        How many people actually use the smartphone app?

        I last opened it maybe 6 months ago to pair new controllers and recall feeling annoyed that that seemed to be the only way to do that.

        Had a friend who’d bought a new phone and maybe a year after that realised that he’d never paired his Quest with it.

        As handtracking has improved one thing that I’d like to see would be a removal of any need to have a smartphone app involved at all.

  • Andrew Jakobs

    UI’s are always a big problem. Some like the shortcuts on their desktop others don’t. A good UI is in the eye of the beholder, and designers should take that into account and let users setup their ‘homescreen’ as they see fit.

  • Ad

    You’re the product.

  • xyzs

    That’s so bad, I will reconsider buying a Q3…

    • CrusaderCaracal

      Ok, more for me then. On a serious note, knowing meta it’ll change in 6 months. Plus, it’s not even that bad, looks fine honestly

  • Dat final burn

  • Kenneth Chang

    Quest’s OS is stupid complicated, trying too much, trying too hard, it’s just bunch of smart kids showing how smart they are

  • JakeDunnegan

    Hear hear!