With the recent launch of Threads, I thought Meta might have had enough of trying to go after the business of another company for at least the month of July. I was wrong.
Today, the company released software version 56 for the Meta Quest 2 and the Meta Quest Pro. The latest software update, amongst a bunch of decent quality-of-life improvements and bug fixes, also turns your headset into a live-streaming device.
You can stream games to…Facebook?!
With the new update, you’ll actually be able to live stream the games you are playing to not Twitch, but to Facebook, of all places. You’ll need to link your Facebook account to your Meta account to make it work, but that’s about it.
Back by popular demand, the livestreaming to Facebook feature was redesigned to be as seamless and easy-to-use as possible, with high-quality video output and persistent access to a live chat panel so you can stay in touch with your friends as you go about your stream. As a reminder, this will roll out gradually, so not everyone will have access to this feature at first.
It’s interesting to see Meta focus on bringing gaming from the headset to Facebook. The company shut down its standalone gaming app for iOS and Android, which allowed users to watch people live streaming games (like Twitch) last year. It appears that the company still sees an opportunity for live streaming in gaming — at least when virtual reality is in play.
Hand tracking is getting a thumbs up
The company says that the update also greatly improves hand tracking — up to 75% latency reduction, in fact. In order to showcase what is possible, Meta provided the Move Fast demo, which allows users to use just their hands — without the controllers — to box their way through a game.
With V56, we’re rolling out Hand Tracking 2.2, which focuses on hands responsiveness, bringing the experience closer to controllers. This includes up to 40% latency reduction in typical usage and up to 75% during fast movement. We’ve also made additional improvements to make fast-paced games even more responsive. Try out the new Move Fast demo app, or start sweating with Litesport or VR Workout.
It’s a pretty cool demonstration that shows off how good the hand tracking is getting with the headset. It honestly reminds me of the good old Xbox Kinect days. Meta is also likely showing it off since Apple Vision Pro, which is set to launch early next year, also opts for hand tracking instead of controllers like the Meta Quest currently requires in most situations.
The company says that it expects even more improvements with hand tracking by the time it launches the Meta Quest 3 headset this fall.
But wait, there’s more!
In addition to live streaming to Facebook and better hand tracking, the new software update also adds more ways to stay connected with friends, the ability to automatically power on the headset in order to complete an update, system-wide local dimming on Meta Quest Pro, and some accessibility features like button remapping.
A lot of these updates seem perfect for the Meta Quest 3 to pick up on when it comes out this fall. The upcoming headset is 40% more compact than the second generation and features redesigned controllers, higher-resolution displays, and a much more powerful processor. It will also support full-color passthrough for mixed reality experiences.
It’s expected to start at $499, a whopping seven times cheaper than the Apple Vision Pro. While I’d love to pick up Apple’s, I think I’ll be sticking with Meta for the next generation of mixed reality on cost alone.