Meta's new Quest portals let you travel between VR apps
Meta's new portals let you travel between VR apps on Quest. But the feature has a strong limitation.
For resounding success, the Metaverse must become like the Internet. Instead of jumping from page to page, you jump from one virtual space to the next, independent of the app and together with other Metaverse travelers. Without obstacles, without the need to open and close programs.
Today's technology is still far from this vision. The closed nature of apps, operating systems, and platforms shows that there are narrow limits to this concept. At least within Meta's VR ecosystem, traveling from VR app to VR app is now possible in principle, but under certain conditions.
Meta introduces a cross-app travel feature
Meta has rolled out a new interface to developers: the App to App Travel API.
"We envision a metaverse where people can seamlessly travel between different apps together and stay connected while exploring our platform’s library of VR experiences," according to the Oculus Developer Blog. The goal is to strengthen the interconnectivity of VR apps.
The new interface builds on two existing features of the Quest platform: Destinations, which allows users to jump directly into specific worlds or levels of a VR app, and Group Launch, which allows collaborative travel to such destinations.
For the first time, the new interface allows users to travel to destinations that are in a VR app other than the one currently open. Developers can create "portals" that serve as connectors for individuals or groups of VR users.
Meta writes that these portals act as bridges that connect different VR experiences and encourage people to explore their app ecosystem more deeply.
Great feature, plenty of limitations
The new travel feature isn't a no-brainer: developers must first implement it in their VR app and then actively collaborate with developers of other VR apps to establish interconnectivity.
Without concrete partnerships between studios, this is not possible, as cross-app travel requires a "handshake" between the apps. Implementation is somewhat easier if a studio maintains multiple VR apps and creates portals between them. Another fundamental limitation of the travel feature is that the destination app must be downloaded and installed.
Although Meta talks about "portals," traveling from one VR app to the next VR app should only involve a confirmation window and loading the next destination app. A real portal with seamless transition, as envisioned by VR developer Quentin Valembois (see article image), is currently still a pipe dream.