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Adding Social Hangouts to Meta Quest's VR Home Space

Adding Social Hangouts to Meta Quest's VR Home Space

Meta Quest virtual reality headsets will soon offer the option to hang out with other people on your homescreen. A multi-user Horizon Home space will be added to the V41 Quest update, which Meta announced last year at Connect. Horizon Home lets people put on their headsets and instantly invite other Quest users to jump into social experiences, including watching VR videos as a group. It's a step toward a larger Horizon-branded "metaverse" that Meta has been rolling out piecemeal for years.

Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced the rollout of Home in a video with free solo climber Alex Honnold, who provides a brief demo of the system. Zuckerberg and Honnold appear as Horizon's traditional legless avatar and pop into a 360-degree video of Honnold's free climb over the Dolomites, then switch to a space landscape for more chatting. In a Facebook post, Zuckerberg says that more options for customizing your home space are "currently in development." A spokesperson for Meta told Road to VR that the v41 update will arrive next week, when we're likely to get more details about the system, including how many people it supports on Hangouts.

Horizon Home connects with Meta's Horizon Workrooms VR meeting software and its Horizon Worlds creative and social platform. It's similar to Facebook Spaces, a 2017 app where you can play minigames with friends and take virtual selfies. Spaces closed in 2019 to make way for Horizon, and it never quite reached the popularity of independent VR Hangout apps like BigScreen, VRChat, and Rec Room. And until now, the Quest homescreen has been a stand-alone experience where players can move around and drag apps.

In theory, Home has the advantage of being integrated directly into the main Quest experience. Meta has also ramped up its virtual and augmented reality efforts as it strives to move beyond its traditional social networking business. With the hardware part of that strategy still in flux, Meta recently scrapped plans for an upcoming smartwatch and an early consumer-focused AR headset, focusing on longer-term AR Glass plans. But VR software is a very near-term bet, and here, Meta is filling an obvious ecosystem gap for easy, small-scale virtual meetups.

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