At a press-only event in San Francisco yesterday, Oculus’ Head of Mobile, Max Cohen, announced a flurry of notable updates coming to the Samsung Gear VR. The most notable of these is an Oculus Home update that is aiming to fix many of the issues that have been plaguing the companies freshman content platform.
The update will release in June and will, “Make it easier to find your recently downloaded content so you can quickly jump into VR.”
Proceeding the full update will be a “What’s New” section and a “revamped library to the Oculus mobile app to help you find and discover new games and experiences.”
The emphasis on this update seems to be on creating a more comprehensive user interface, which Oculus Home desperately needs. There is currently no way to even search through your downloaded content while inside the headset. As the industry continues to grow, and devices continue to fill with more and more applications, this problem will only become more significant.
The update, however, will create “more intuitive content navigation” which will enable “new ways to explore your photo memories” and the rest of your Oculus enabled programs. The What’s New feature, for example, could theoretically populate with information about a new documentary added to the MilkVR app. When selected, this could allow you to jump right into the fresh content without slugging through your entire content library.
The ability to navigate photos will be particularly important in light of another announcement made during the show. Oculus’ parent company Facebook will be “enabling 360 photos in its user’s news feeds.”
According to Oculus, “In the coming weeks, Facebook will add 360 photos to News Feed. You’ll be able to take a panoramic photo from your phone or use a 360 camera, upload it to Facebook, and pan around by tilting your phone or dragging the image.”
The synergy doesn’t stop there, however. Gear VR owners will also be able to access these same photos directly from the Oculus 360 photos app on their headsets. The app will pull in all of the most popular 360 photos on Facebook that are publicly available to view.
This is one of the first significant Facebook-centric crossovers added to the Oculus platform since the social media giant purchased the company for $2.4 billion in 2014. But Cohen was quick to clarify that users do not and will not be required to sign in or have a Facebook account to use any Oculus devices.
The updated Oculus Home and 360 photo integration do not appear to be on their way to the more powerful Oculus Rift, however, at least not yet. The company may be choosing to start with Gear VR due to its larger install base which was recently revealed to be around 1 million unique users.
“Mobile VR can change people’s lives,” Cohen said, further demonstration Oculus’ unique commitment to its cheapest, but apparently most popular, VR platform to date.