Another big update to Quest and Quest 2 is on the way. Oculus today announced that the v29 update will begin rolling out to users “soon” (likely starting this week), and will bring a video overlay feature to casting, a file browser, phone notifications in VR, and more.

Update (May 17th, 2021): A previous version of this article reported that the v29 Quest software added a mixed-reality capture feature. This was mistaken; the Live Overlay feature superimposes the smartphone camera view on top of the usual first-person VR view, rather than placing the user into the virtual scene. This has been corrected below.

It’s only been a month since Oculus started rolling out v28 of the Quest software which added Air Link, 120Hz refresh rate, and keyboard & desk tracking, but the company is continuing to pump the headset full of features. V29 of the Quest software will begin rolling out soon with a host of new features which appear to be supported on both Quest and Quest 2.

Live Overlay Through Smartphone

Image courtesy Oculus

Oculus says it’s adding a ‘Live Overlay’ feature to the iOS app which will allow users to place a video of themselves (from their smartphone camera) on top of the scene they are casting. This is a simple picture-in-picture approach rather a more complex mixed-reality approach.

Oculus says the feature will only be supported on the iPhone XS (2018) and newer iPhone models for now, and will be rolled out as an experiment to a subset of users for the time being. You’ll be able to both cast and record using the Live Overlay feature, but livestreaming is not supported at this point. Oculus says it’s also working to bring the feature to Android phones but doesn’t have a timeline for release.

V29 also brings a smaller update to casting and recording from the headset: microphone capture. Now when you cast or record footage you’ll be able to hear yourself through the headset’s built-in microphone.

Smartphone Notifications in VR

V29 is adding a much requested feature: the ability to see your phone’s notifications while you’re in VR. This will initially work only with iOS devices (iPhone 7 or later), but Oculus says that Android support is “coming soon.” It appears that notifications can pop up in the VR experience similar to how system notifications can now, and they will also be lifted in the menu’s Notifications tab. Now if we could just get the headset to be able to answer phone calls by acting like bluetooth headphones, maybe we’d never have to leave VR.

The company notes that headsets with multiple accounts will only show phone notifications for the current user’s account to prevent one user from seeing another user’s notifications.

File Browser With Downloading & Uploading from the Web

V29 of the Quest software is adding a file browser to the headset to allow users to manage their own files. This may seem like a boring tidbit, but it actually stands to make Quest headsets significantly more useful. Now you’ll be able to download files from the web, view them, and even upload them elsewhere, like to Facebook, Slack, Discord, Google Drive or YouTube. Presumably users will also be able to sideload files onto their headset through their computer and then access them through the file browser.

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Oculus says users will be able to upload and download “media files” through the browser, though it isn’t clear if the company intends to limit the feature to media specifically, or if any file will be fair game.

App Advertisements Coming to the Oculus Smartphone App

Alongside the v29 update news, Oculus also announced that it will begin rolling out app advertisements to the Oculus smartphone app. This will allow developers to pay to show their app in “sponsored” positions within the app to get more users to see it.

While this is purportedly restricted to the smartphone app for now, Oculus also alludes to forthcoming in-headset advertising. “We’re exploring other ways for people to interact with brands on the Oculus platform, including within the headset, and will keep you updated on what we’re working on.”

Multi-user Accounts Come to Original Quest

Oculus added multi-user accounts to Quest 2 back in February, and now v29 will bring the feature to the original Quest headset as well.

The multi-user feature allows you to add up to four accounts on a single headset, all of which can use the library of apps owned by the main account. This also allows users to have separate game progress and friends lists. Each additional account requires its own Facebook account.

– – — – –

As with prior updates, v29 will roll out slowly to Quest and Quest 2 users, likely over the course of a week or more, but you can check for an update manually to see if it’s available to you. Here’s how:

How to Update Quest and Quest 2
  1. In your headset, bring up the Quest menu by pressing the Oculus button on your right controller. Find the Settings section (gear icon).
  2. On the left of the Settings section select ‘About’ at the bottom of the list
  3. Look next to the ‘Software Update’ label to see if a new version is available
  4. Check the ‘Version’ label to see which version is currently installed
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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."
  • Ad

    ‘Live Overlay’, a new feature for casting and recording, will use your
    iPhone (XS or newer) camera system to segment your body & overlay it
    on the from-VR perspective. This isn’t a true mixed reality feature –
    the background is your first person view, and doesn’t move with the
    iPhone. That said, it certainly sounds like a first step.

    • Adrian Meredith

      oh, that sounds pointless

    • benz145

      Thanks, I misunderstood it as Oculus’ wording was fairly confusing. Fixed with an update above.

      • Ad

        Yeah I’m surprised they didn’t delay this until they actually have a LIV style overlay.

        • They have announced the future Spectator mode update. It’ll be trivial to combine the both to get a live, dynamic camera mixed reality mode then or soon thereafter.

          • Ad

            LIV still needs to be calibrated, so who knows.

  • kontis

    a file browser to the headset to allow users to manage their own files. This may seem like a boring tidbit, but it actually stands to make Quest headsets significantly more useful.

    Imagine any computer user reading this in the 80s or 90s about a cutting edge device from the 30+ years in the future, scratching their head and wondering what kind of cataclysm must have happened for this kind of most basic, necessary feature for any computing device being a new addition…

    • guest

      Yeah “upload them elsewhere” means some corporate data center in the clouds that could disappear at a moments notice, same thing as 1970’s big iron!

    • doublej42

      I worked on computers in the 80s. Non of them had file systems. Most of them didn’t have storage.

      It was 1983 when the sub folder was invented for MSDos so that would be the first really useful subfolder.

      Funny thing is I’d say that even to this day most of my computers haven’t had file managers and as I move away from running a full OS to running in container most of them don’t again as they are micro service based systems that exist around the word.

      Yes I know I’m the exception.

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      • Dave Gomm

        I think for those of us used to easy access to file systems and grew up on Dos 3/Windows 3.x, the lack of it feels disabling. I know I felt this way when I had my first smart phone, tablet etc.

      • Michael Balzer

        Maybe that was because serial stream cassette drives were the only form of offline storage in the early the early 80s. It didn’t take long for that all to change when floppy was introduced. I still remember building a drive board from TTL ICs and one MSI interface chip to drive the stepper motors and magnetic head current.

    • Ad

      I am pretty sure this will just be media. The UI doesn’t look like it could handle any more than that.

    • The first iPhone didn’t have copy/paste. It was also arguably WORSE than a “normal” cell phone for the simple task of making calls. When user interface is re-invented bottom-up for a new type of device, it will spearhead in some aspects and lag behind in others. This isn’t new.

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    • dk

      it needs one for the office stuff ….all it needed at the beginning is a game launcher