Go launched in May 2018 as Facebook’s first standalone headset, priced from $199 and marketed mostly for media consumption and basic social VR. Unlike all VR headsets on the consumer market today it could only track the rotation of your head, not the position. Its single controller also had the same limitation, acting as more of a laser pointer than actually having your hands in VR. Go was retired from Facebook’s enterprise VR offering in January 2020 and for consumers in mid 2020, with no new OS feature updates since. Apps on the Go Store can no longer issue updates since December, and no new apps are accepted.
Standalone Oculus headsets run a modified version of Android. This unlocked OS build has full root access, meaning system apps can be removed, the launcher (home interface) can be replaced, and developers can build apps with advanced functionality not permitted by the over-the-air OS.
The act of Sideloading this special OS build also unlocks Go’s bootloader. That means the device will no longer check for Facebook’s signature on OS builds, allowing for custom or fully third party operating systems to be installed. While such an OS doesn’t yet exist for VR, this at least makes it possible.
Making this OS available also means the final Go software version will be available long after Facebook’s update servers shut down. If you’re wondering whether an unlocked OS will some day arrive for the positionally tracked Oculus Quest, Carmack described this move as specific to Go but hopes “it sets a precedent”.
A download link and full sideloading instructions are available on the Oculus developer website. Note that this will wipe all installed apps and data.