Meta shows Quest Pro demos for mixed reality web
The Internet is a cornerstone of the Metaverse. During Connect 2022, Meta announced great innovation in mixed reality web browsing.
In a developer session, Meta gave an update on the Meta Quest web platform. This article summarizes the announcements in these three areas:
- the Meta Quest browser,
- so-called Progressive Web Apps (PWAs) and
Meta Quest Pro: Using browsers in VR apps
Meta announced a new, useful browser feature for Meta Quest Pro (info). Users of the premium headset can open the Meta Quest browser while in a VR app and use it in an overlay view. For example, to look up something on the web.
This is not possible with Meta Quest 1 & 2. On those headsets, you first have to quit the open VR app and switch to the Meta Quest browser. The following video from Meta includes a look at what web browsing in VR with Meta Quest Pro looks like.
This feature is made possible by the 12 GB of RAM in Meta Quest Pro (Meta Quest 2 only has 6 gigabytes).
The feature has one limitation: It is not possible to use a VR app and the Meta Quest browser at the same time, for example to watch a YouTube video while playing. If you switch back to the VR app, the Meta Quest Browser is minimized.
Meta Quest Browser gets password manager
The overlay feature also works with PWAs. Progressive Web Apps are web variants of desktop or smartphone apps that run in the browser.
Meta Quest 2 (review) supports PWAs since firmware update 34 and can display up to three such 2D web apps simultaneously with multitasking support. Meta promotes PWAs because they bridge the 2D app ecosystem and make it easier to work in VR.
PWAs released so far in the Meta Quest Store include Facebook, Instagram, Spike, Smartsheet, and Monday. In the developer session, Meta announced new PWAs, including Dropbox, Adobe Acrobat, Coursera, and Peacock.
Meta also promised support for a tool called PWABuilder, which will make it easier to develop PWAs and ensure that more 2D apps find their way into the Meta Quest Store.
The password manager LastPass will also be released as a PWA. In early 2023, the developer promises, the tool will be natively integrated into the Meta Quest browser. The tedious searching and typing of passwords in VR should thus be a thing of the past.
Support for mixed reality web
Towards the end of the developer session, Meta representatives spoke about innovations in the WebXR area. The standard makes it possible to launch simple VR and AR apps directly from the web browser without any detours – without prior app installation and only via URL.
The Meta Quest browser has supported WebXR for some time. What’s new is Meta’s announcement that the browser will support Mixed Reality.
Meta has integrated features from the Presence Platform (a collective term for Meta’s mixed reality interfaces) into the Meta Quest Browser for this purpose. These include passthrough, surface detection, and spatial anchoring of digital objects.
This means that developers can build WebXR-based mixed reality apps for the Meta Quest Browser. The mixed reality feature applies to Meta Quest Pro and Meta Quest 2.
To show the potential of the technology, Meta worked with Phoria Studio to develop the Spatial Fusion mixed reality tech demo. Watch the video excerpt above if you want to get an idea of the web-based mixed reality app. Spatial Fusion is slated to appear soon in the Meta Quest browser
Meta develops WebXR showcase
At the very end of the talk, Meta gets to talking about Project Flowerbed. This is the name of a WebXR app developed by Meta to show developers what is possible with WebXR and how to create high-quality WebXR apps. A preview version is already available on the web and the full version will be released soon. Meta plans to release the code in an opensource version later this year so developers can learn from it.
The following developer session, titled “Build Great WebXR Experiences,” shows a trailer of Project Flowerbed and goes into detail about the lessons Meta learned from the development.
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