Meta’s newest update for its Quest VR headsets, v56, will add a lot of welcome upgrades, including improved hand tracking, system-level live captions, and the return of livestreaming to Facebook.
The improved hand tracking, which Meta is calling Hand Tracking 2.2, focuses on “hands responsiveness” to bring “the experience closer to controllers,” and to help show it off, the company released the Move Fast demo app as part of its App Lab. Meta is also adding swipe typing on its virtual keyboard, which could be an easier way to spell things out than hunting and pecking on virtual keys midair.
I tried out hand tracking and Meta’s Direct Touch technology on the Quest 2 earlier this year, and while it was quite finicky, I thought it was still an impressive way to navigate around the Quest’s UI. With these hand-tracking improvements, Meta is almost certainly trying to show off what’s possible on its devices ahead of Apple’s launch of its comparatively more expensive Vision Pro.
As for the live captions, Meta says you can use them in Meta Quest TV (an app to watch VR video content), Explore, and the Meta Quest Store. “Our goal is to improve usability and create a positive experience for everyone while also increasing accessibility for people who are hard of hearing or Deaf,” Meta said in a blog post. The company is going to “explore the possibility” of bringing it to “other experiences” down the line. But that’s not the only accessibility-focused update: v56 will let you remap the buttons on your controller.
Meta is also adding back the ability to livestream from your Quest headset to Facebook after the company removed the feature two years ago. “Back by popular demand, the livestreaming to Facebook feature was redesigned to be as seamless and easy-to-use as possible, with high-quality video output and persistent access to a live chat panel so you can stay in touch with your friends as you go about your stream,” Meta said. The feature will “roll out gradually,” according to the company.
And there’s one v56 feature I’m particularly excited for: automatic updates while your Quest headset is charging. “Now, when your headset’s charging, it’ll automatically power on and perform seamless app and OS updates and cloud backups so you can get back into the action with as little friction as possible,” according to Meta.
In the full v56 release notes, Meta says the update will “gradually” begin rolling out starting the week of July 24th.https://hactic.s3.us-west-2.amazonaws.com/index.html