HTC launched the Vive Focus System Update 2.0 this week to add quite a few extra features to the headset. A new companion app for HTC smartphones also brings smartphone-to-headset functions to the Vive Focus.

HTC shared a slew of interesting new updates for the Vive Focus this week at the company’s Vive Ecosystem Conference 2018 in China. In addition to the ability to stream PC VR applications to the headset, as well as a 6DOF controller mode and gesture input, the company announced the System Update 2.0 for the Focus.

Available now to Focus users, the update brings ‘Passenger Mode’ which offers an additional hour of battery life (up to four hours), according to HTC, for seated VR experiences like watching video content. We take it this is achieved by disabling the headset’s 6DOF tracking and allowing it to function as a simple 3DOF headset (thereby reducing the processing workload), which would have the added benefit of preventing the movements of a car or plane from throwing off the headset’s tracking.

The update also offers a pass-through video mode—double tapping the power button allows users to peer through the Focus’ front-facing cameras to see what’s around them without removing the headset.

The System Update 2.0 also allows users to install applications directly to a microSD card inserted into the headset, which the company says supports cards up to 2TB—a notable advantage over the Oculus Go which only comes in 32GB and 64GB sizes with no memory expansion.

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The update also makes way for a range of smartphone-to-headset features. With the updated Vive Companion app, users with HTC smartphones will be able to answer calls from their phone directly on their headset, and see text messages and other “social notifications,” though it isn’t clear if notifications are limited to specific apps or system-wide.

Those with HTC’s new U12+ will also be able to mirror the phone’s display into the Focus, allowing users to view and use existing applications inside their headset, though it isn’t clear if users will be able to control them with input from the headset or if they’ll need to use their phone’s touchscreen while effectively blind.

We’ve reached out to HTC for clarification on both the scope of in-headset notifications and precisely how screen mirroring will work.

Image courtesy HTC

A video released by HTC also shows a smartphone being used as a controller for the headset as both an attachment to a peripheral and as a companion controller to the Focus’ official 3DOF controller, as well as mirroring the headset’s view to a phone so that others can see what’s happening inside.

The Vive Focus is only presently available to consumers in China, while the company is selling the headset as a dev kit in the West, with a consumer launch expected later this year.

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  • Craig Cozze

    Definitely sounds like Vive focus will be the stand alone of the year for sure

  • Lucidfeuer

    It’s starting to be interesting. I’m waiting for full features reviews, and may get one.

    • Sponge Bob

      useless crap with 3dof controllers – no productivity apps are feasible

      I’d rather add NoloVR system to Oculus GO – still cheaper and fully featured
      with easy wireless setup

      • Lucidfeuer

        This goes without saying that I’m not considering it without a 6dof controller but I remember news of HTC releasing an update or new controllers?

        • Sponge Bob

          How can you make new controller (tracked to headset) without completely redesigning headset itself ???
          HTC is full of sh1t as all big corps are
          greedy as hell too

  • Internal tests of HTC says that passenger mode makes battery last up to 5 hours if you only watch 1080p videos.

    The biggest news are 6DOF controller and gesture recognition that will be implemented in Q3 2018, though

    • Laurence Nairne

      Haha, the irony is that an extra two hours spent watching 1080p videos right in front of your eyeballs is likely to induce brain hemorrhage level headaches :D

    • Sponge Bob

      “6DOF controller and gesture recognition that will be implemented in Q3 2018”

      :):):)

      And you believe them ?
      they’ll give you some useless crap

      • steven B

        they already have videos of it working.. so until i see someone reviewing it showing its a lie i will believe them

        • Sponge Bob

          ok then buy it now and wait wait wait
          they are full of sh1t – they can’t make those things

  • WyrdestGeek

    I’m getting the sense that: when Vive Focus is available for purchase — it *still* won’t be something I want to buy.

    HOWEVER– maybe six months after that, it will be.

    I.e. if it can operate on its own or wirelessly connected to a PC with good graphics card.

    If it supports 6dof controllers.

    Then we’re finally getting somewhere.

    • Sponge Bob

      It will not have fully functional 6dof controllers. period.
      useless crap

  • Firestorm185

    I haven’t taken a good look at the controller, does it have a grip button? That’s kinda important for most SteamVR games, if it doesn’t come with one I hope they create an add-on controller that has them.

  • fuyou2

    RETARDED DESIGN!!! ANOTHER FUCKING JUNK

  • MarquisDeSang

    What is the point of 6dof if the controller is only 3dof?

    • Laurence Nairne

      A very valid point, which is why they are working on making a 6DoF option for the controller using computer vision and AI to determine position.

      I’d argue they should have addressed this during early development of the hardware, rather than now, but at least it’s coming.

    • Konchu

      It can do 6Dof using the cameras with the 3Dof controller so this comes down to cost. But this is also where the fail if they could get a sub 300 dollar standalone headset that could do 6dof they could make some compelling content even with the limitations of the mobile chips. I love my Oculus Go but if they could add 6DoF it would be so much more. But I get it cost prohibits that from happening and I think its a better cost value balance. I feel this will be better hardware than the Go overall but it will be a terrible Value. And since I have real VR Vive/Oculus/Oddysey Its a hard sell. Go gives me Portable VR and something I can lay in. This technically portable but not just throw it in your bag portable.

  • MarquisDeSang

    You can buy 4 Oculus Go and give them to your friends for the price of 1 Focus.

  • Konchu

    They are definitely making a better case for this device with features. Though it misses the mark on Cost/Portability/and Bed friendliness. I wish Oculus would copy the phone pass through thing. I would love to use a virtual theater in my Go and be able to cast to the screen from my phone this would cover the non supported apps(especially video I needs my Crunchy Roll).

    • JDawg

      Cruncy Roll not working with Oculus Go browser?

      • Konchu

        Hasn’t worked for me .

  • Kenji Fujimori

    HTC is well known for exploding batteries on their shit phones.. Google it

  • Kenji Fujimori

    Fuck China