Meta opening Quest mixed reality OS up to third-party hardware makers

2 months ago 67

Xbox-themed Quest headset also coming.

Official speculative mock-up of a person sat on the sofa playing an FPS using an Xbox controller and VR headset. Image credit: Meta

Meta is opening its Quest mixed reality operating system up to third-party hardware makers to create "more choice to consumers and a larger ecosystem for developers to build for".

"The growth of the mixed reality market and the rising popularity of use cases like gaming, entertainment, fitness, productivity, and social presence have created new opportunities for specialised hardware," Meta writes. "As we've seen with the PC and smartphone industries, consumers are best served by a broad hardware ecosystem producing both general-purpose computing devices and more specialised products, all running on a common platform."

To that end, Meta says third-party hardware manufacturers will be able to make use of the Meta Quest operating system - now renamed Meta Horizon OS - and the company has announced a number of initial partnerships to create devices with "specific use cases". ASUS Republic of Gamers, for instance, is creating an "all-new performance gaming headset", while Lenovo is developing "mixed reality devices for productivity, learning, and entertainment".

Ian goes to Azeroth with a first-person World of Warcraft VR mod.Watch on YouTube

Meta is also partnering with Microsoft to create a limited-edition Quest headset "inspired by Xbox". And while that's as much as the official announcement has to say on the matter, an Instagram post from Meta's Mark Zuckerberg references a potential device that "comes out of the box with Xbox controllers and Game Pass", perhaps indicating how the headset might be bundled.

Elsewhere in its announcement, Meta says it's "expanding the ways app developers can reach their audiences" by combining the main OS store - now known as the Meta Horizon Store - and the previously distinct App Lab, with titles from the latter now being highlighted within a dedicated section of the main store. Additionally, Meta is working on a "new spatial app framework that helps mobile developers create mixed reality experiences."

The company notes Meta Horizon OS will still allow users to run titles from outside its native store after the change, whether that be Game Pass or PC storefronts including Steam. "We encourage the Google Play 2D app store to come to Meta Horizon OS," it adds, "where it can operate with the same economic model it does on other platforms."

All this, of course, follows the launch of Apple's Vision Pro mixed reality headset in the US, and comes ahead of a wider rollout later this year. Apple's device notably functions within the company's closed ecosystem - an approach that's increasingly been the target of regulators around the world in recent times. Today's news also comes as Meta's metaverse-focused Reality Labs division continues to report significant operating losses - it has lost more than $42bn since numbers were made publicly available the end of 2020 - and follows more than 20,000 layoffs at the company between 2022 and 2023.

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