Oculus ‘App Lab’ Gives Quest Developers Non-Store App Distribution
Oculus has unveiled App Lab app non-store app distribution for developers.
Facebook’s new App Lab enables developers to distribute Oculus Quest apps without having to pass via the stringent store approval or opt for the sideloading option.
The Oculus Quest platform is semi-closed and console-like. Previously, the Oculus Store provided developers with any official channel through which to distribute their apps. However, to enable sideloading, owners can declare themselves as developers and use the third-party SideQuest option that automates the USB sideloading process for games and experiments on the SideQuest platform.
With the App Lab, developers are now able to upload their apps to the Oculus platform and they can even directly share them with users through a key or URL. These can either be free or premium apps.
When a Quest user clicks the URL, it will open up the apps’ listing on the Oculus smartphone app from where a user can buy or install the app on their Quest.
The apps on the App Lab won’t be on the main Oculus Store but once redeemed by a user, they will appear in the users’ library and support automatic updates along with platform features such as leaderboards and achievements. A user doesn’t have to declare themselves as developers for them to install the App Lab app and they don’t need a PC either.
The Oculus Store approvals process is extremely difficult to secure. Developers unable to get their apps past Oculus’ gatekeepers have often struggled to recover resources invested in porting to the mobile VR system.
With App Lab, a basic Facebook approval is still required. However, the approvals process for App Lab is shorter and no doubt less stringent than that of the store. Apps should get approved provided they meet the Oculus Content Guidelines as well as Facebook’s Data Use Policy.
App Lab isn’t a replacement for SideQuest. The SideQuest platform actually supports App Lab URLs rather than the APK file, affirming its place as a de-facto alternative to the Quest app store. As App Lab doesn’t require a PC, users will be able to install apps from the SideQuest website through their phone browser.
Developers can go to the Oculus Developer Dashboard to submit their apps to App Lab.