Wednesday, June 12, 2024

The metaverse is back


A concept image of someone playing a game in virtual reality.Meta

Talk of the metaverse has waned in recent months, but Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg shook things up with an Instagram post that could have a significant impact on the development of the best VR headsets and accelerate the pace of the metaverse.

The big news is that Meta will open-source the mixed-reality operating system it developed for the Quest 3 and earlier Quest VR headsets to expand the ecosystem to new partners.

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Meta built what’s now known as Horizon OS with the Android Open Source Project, and now Meta’s XR-optimized version will be available for other manufacturers to use in their hardware.


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Few details were shared, but Meta’s blog says Asus ROG is working on a performance gaming headset, Lenovo will develop and productivity headset, and Meta is partnering with Microsoft on a limited-edition Quest “inspired by Xbox.”

Zuckerberg suggested other companies might build devices for specific uses, like productivity, fitness, watching videos, or 2D gaming on a large virtual screen. A dedicated VR headset designed for simulations could get a head start with Horizon OS.

As part of this change, Meta is updating its Quest app store, which will become the Horizon Store. Anyone running Meta Horizon OS will be able to see compatible apps in the Horizon store, and it’s growing to include more content.

In addition to the existing Meta Quest games, apps, and content, the Horizon Store will also list Xbox Cloud Gaming and Steam games. Meta’s App Lab is getting an upgrade so games and apps that are in early development will be more discoverable.

Samsung’s TM Roh shares XR plans at the 2023 Galaxy Unpacked event. Samsung

Zuckerberg once again mentioned Meta’s willingness to add Google’s Play Store to Horizon OS and therefore the Quest platform. You can run some Android apps by sideloading them on your Quest 3, Quest 2, and Quest Pro. Unfortunately, some apps require Google Play Services, which comes with the Play Store.

Meta wants to be the open-source alternative to Apple’s Vision Pro, becoming the “Android” of XR headsets. Google is partnering with Samsung with similar plans, and an official Android XR operating system could launch soon.

Whether you like the concept or not, things are heating up again in the metaverse, and Meta wants to be at the forefront of the development of these new platforms.

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