Meta’s Oculus Quest App Lab

So I found an answer to my intrigue regarding Mark Zuckerberg’s off-handed quip about “neural interfaces”, but I’m still at a loss to understand his positioning of Quest as the “open” alternative to Apple’s “closed” Vision. One friend sent me a pointer to Meta’s “App Lab”, which they announced in February 2021:

Whether the goal is to build a business, create a community, test and experiment with new apps, or get feedback on new ideas, you control how your app is distributed. App Lab supports both free and paid apps, which are shareable via a URL or Oculus Keys. While App Lab is distinct from the Oculus Store and App Lab apps won’t appear in the Oculus Store, customers who install apps from App Lab will find them in their Quest library. App Lab apps can also be searched by exact name and found in the “App Lab” section of results. App Lab apps can access the majority of standard platform features, including automatic update distribution, platform integration and SDKs, app analytics, release channels, and more.

We’ve taken steps to reduce the technical requirements and Virtual Reality Checks (VRCs) to make submission as simple as possible. In order to promote a safe, secure and positive experience, App Lab apps are required to comply with our App Lab Policies, including our Oculus Content Guidelines, Data Use Policy, and App Policies.

Follow that link to “App Policies” and you’ll see that this doesn’t sound very different from Apple’s iOS-derived platforms:

Apps hosted on the platform may not contain, use, or make available commerce solutions — including for app payment processing, in-app purchases, or in-app advertising — except as provided in the platform SDK, or otherwise expressly agreed by you and Meta Platforms Technologies in writing. For example, if your app has in-app purchases, and your app is distributed through any Meta Platforms Technologies distribution channel, including the Meta Quest Store, you must use the Platform In-App Purchases to handle such payment processing.

There’s also a third-party thing called SideQuest that ostensibly lets you “sideload” apps on a Quest, but it requires both desktop software on a Mac or PC and a Meta developer account. I can definitely see how Quest is at least slightly more open than Vision, but on the grand scale of open-vs.-closed platforms, it seems pretty closed. What am I missing?

Friday, 16 February 2024