A new step is required to sideload content on the Oculus Quest standalone headset.
The option to use “unknown sources” on Oculus Quest is gated behind ‘Developer Mode’. Currently, enabling developer mode for your account requires agreeing to the Oculus Developer Terms of Service. From October 8, Facebook will also add a verification step requiring you to provide either your phone number or payment details. If your account already has developer mode, you have until February 1.
The policy shouldn’t change anything for sideloaders who already have that information tied to their account. It’s possible, though, that some Quest users who signed up as developers just to sideload content might’ve preferred a more anonymous relationship with Facebook, and may now need to add more information to their account.
Facebook confirmed in an email that “developer verification will apply to all individual developer accounts, new and existing” and “nothing is changing with Developer Mode at this time.”
Earlier this year Facebook promised to open up new options for non-store app distribution on Oculus Quest in early 2021. Until then, as outlined in our guide to sideloading on Quest, signing up as a VR developer and using software like SideQuest can make it easy to do the following:
- Install pre-release builds released by a developer, before the game is finished and/or released.
- Install apps that are not available on the Oculus Store (either as they were rejected, have not yet applied for a store listing, or otherwise).
- Use an alternate build of an approved Oculus Store application – alternate builds can offers additional content when sideloaded, which isn’t approved under the store guidelines.
- Load custom content – certain games and apps may support custom content installation.
- Install tools that offer new insight into how you’re using your Quest.
“It may seem like Oculus are adding extra steps, but with new distribution options around the corner the outlook looks good for users, developers, and all of SideQuest,” SideQuest CEO Shane Harris wrote to me. “At SideQuest we have a 5 step process for users to sign up and get access to content. These steps make it harder for users to setup SideQuest which hurts the overall discoverability of content on the platform and sets a technical hurdle for users to overcome. Oculus have introduced 2 Factor Auth as a layer of security around Developer Accounts on the Oculus Developer Dashboard. This move makes sense as they are working towards opening up new distribution options on Oculus Quest, as stated by Chris Pruett earlier in the year. Oculus are making it possible to install apps without the use of sideloading which will remove the need for these setup steps completely likely along with other first party benefits for developers. We are excited to see how these changes improve the user experience and boost overall visibility and user engagement in content on SideQuest. Sideloading isn’t going anywhere, its an essential part of the developer ecosystem as any developer or enterprise user knows. Facebook stated recently that sideloading will still be possible in 2023.”
Developer Data Use Policy
Late last year Facebook implemented a policy that if you were logged into Facebook it would use data from Oculus VR headset usage to inform ad targeting. Recently, Facebook instituted a new policy that requires the use of a Facebook account with all new Oculus hardware.
For developers, Facebook is also going to start requiring they self-certify compliance with a data use policy “if they request access to Oculus User Data via Oculus Platform features, including: User ID, User Profile, Avatars, Deep Linking, Friends, Invites, Matchmaking, In-App Purchase, and Parties….Starting on November 15, 2020, we’ll gradually roll out Data Use Checkup to developers of applications that currently access these platform features. Once your application is enrolled, you will have 90 days to complete Data Use Checkup and pass our internal review or your app will be removed from the Oculus Store.”
According to Facebook, the process for developers is also subject to potential “review, inspection, or audit of your and your service providers’ IT Systems or Records” if “we determine in our sole discretion it is necessary to ensure that you and your Content have deleted Oculus User Data in accordance with this Policy.”
Relative to “any user data collected or processed through the Oculus Platform” the policy forbids developers from a range of activities including:
- “Using User Data for marketing or advertising purposes”
- “Using User Data to profile, discriminate, or encourage discrimination against people based on their race, ethnicity, color, national origin, religion, age, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, family status, disability, medical or genetic condition, or any other categories protected by applicable law, regulation, or other Oculus terms or policy”
- “Using User Data to perform, facilitate, or provide tools for surveillance”
- “Using User Data to ascertain the identity of a natural person, including real name, or actual facial or body images, to the extent not disclosed by the User Data (for example, through use of AI, facial recognition or gait identifying technologies).”
Facebook Connect is coming up on Sept. 16 with a keynote and sessions we expect to cover the company’s near and long term plans for VR and AR.