Quest 2: Does Meta keep its promise of social VR with Horizon Home?
The Meta Quest living room goes social. Does the long-awaited Horizon Home live up to its promise? I did the self-experiment.
Finally! Three years after the release of Meta Quest, Meta delivers a feature that should have been there from day one: the ability to invite friends into the home environment. For conversations, metaverse dates, or movie nights.
You've heard Zuckerberg talk about social presence in virtual reality for many years, but his company's VR headset, which sells millions of units, has made it incredibly difficult to socialize virtually until recently. You have to find and install a suitable VR app, set up an account and avatar, and figure out how to meet in the same virtual space. It's a nightmare for VR newbies!
That's now a thing of the past: Horizon Home launched in June with Update 41 and should have reached all Quest devices by now. After a temporary VR abstinence, I was able to try out the feature with a colleague yesterday. Was the wait for social VR life worth it?
Yes, I can see you!
The invitation is simple: you just invite your friend to a party. He or she should then be able to teleport into the home environment.
I intentionally tried Horizon Home with someone for whom virtual reality and Meta Quest are relatively new. And as you might expect, it wasn't at all easy for my buddy to accept the invitation to the virtual living room.
"How does this work exactly?" "Where do I press now?" After a few minutes of trial and error, it worked and I saw my colleague standing in front of me. As expected, without legs and in a comic book appearance, but animated in a nice Pixar style.
Yes, I like the new Meta avatars. I can't wait to see Project Cambria's face and eye tracking in action. It allows me to look into the eyes of my friends' digital second selves and read emotions from their faces.
3D videos in 2D only
The first thing I wanted to try was watching immersive videos together. Again, it took me a few minutes to figure out how to start and enter movies via Oculus TV. Once you get the hang of it, it's easy.
I chose an episode from David Attenborough's great virtual reality documentary Micro Monsters. Now we were standing in the middle of the terrifying world of insects, marveling together at the wonders of the microcosm.
Unfortunately, something important was missing: 3D videos are displayed monoscopically when you watch them together. As a result, they lose much of their impact. This is unfortunate and will hopefully be fixed by Meta.
Hand tracking and group teleport
Back in the living room, I activated hand tracking. Can I wave at my colleague with my hands, give signs, and show my finger for fun? Unfortunately, that didn't work. Either the hand tracking is not yet activated or we had a technical problem: My virtual hands and fingers remained stiff.
Finally, we tried to jump into a VR app together. For this, we chose Walkabout Mini Golf, which has exemplary multiplayer integration.
You can select a multiplayer app via the Horizon Home interface and, in the case of Walkabout Mini Golf, jump directly into one of the numerous mini-golf environments.
That didn't work, though: We both found ourselves in the game's lobby, but each on our own. That was the case with the VR app before, though, so we weren't surprised. After a few tries, we gave up on the self-experiment.
Conclusion: The foundation is laid
Still, my conclusion is positive: Horizon Home is becoming an indispensable part of the Quest experience and can really only get better as bugs are fixed and new features are added, like the ability to design your own home.
I also hope that it will be possible to use Custom Homes so that I can invite my friends to the Matrix, a Van Gogh painting, or an eerie forest cabin.
Horizon Home reminds me of the legendary Facebook Spaces - and that's a good sign. If you own a Meta Quest (2), you should definitely try out the new feature.