Oculus blocks SteamVR streaming on Quest

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Devindra Hardawar/Engadget

The developer of an Oculus Quest app called Virtual Desktop introduced an experimental feature that allowed users to stream SteamVR games to their Oculus headset. He’s now being forced by Oculus to remove the feature. Guy Godin took to Reddit yesterday to inform the Oculus Quest community that he will be dropping the ability to stream SteamVR games at Oculus’ behest.

“I’m sorry to announce this but Oculus doesn’t want the SteamVR streaming feature in their store,” he wrote on Reddit. Godin said that he’s been developing virtual reality tech for more than five years now and saw an opportunity with his app to give people more access to the games on their PC. According to Godin, he worked on the feature for several months before introducing it days ago. He said that Oculus believed his app was “hurting Quest” and asked for its removal.

When asked about the situation, a spokesperson for Oculus told Engadget, “While we don’t comment on the status of specific apps, our Oculus Store application submission system is designed to help ensure that our devices deliver a consistent, comfortable experience to customers. Apps are evaluated on a number of factors including performance, input, and safety with the goal of creating a quality, high-value experience for all VR consumers.”

The ability to stream SteamVR content may no longer be in the Virtual Desktop app, but it won’t be going away entirely. Godin said on Reddit that he plans to offer the functionality as part of a separate app that can be sideloaded onto Quest and bypass Oculus’ strict requirements for apps that appear in its store.

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The best tech of 2019 (so far)

Every product here is independently selected by Mashable journalists. If you buy something featured, we may earn an affiliate commission which helps support our work.

We’re only halfway through 2019 and we’ve already seen a crazy number of cool, innovative tech releases. 

From camera-packed Android phones to long-lasting wireless earbuds to immersive wireless VR, there’s been no shortage of impressive gadgets to drool over. Once again, we awarded the very best with our Mashable Choice seal of approval.

There’s a lot more exciting tech on the horizon, but for now, these are the 10 best products of the year.

The OnePlus 7 Pro leapfrogged its competitors in several ways.

Zlata Ivleva / Mashable

10. DJI Osmo Action

Having conquered drones, DJI’s now setting its sights on GoPro with its Osmo Action. The action camera bests GoPro’s impressive Hero 7 Black with a color LCD screen on the front (perfect for selfies and vlogging) and back, super smooth in-body electronic stabilization, and a lens design that supports neutral density (ND) filters for capturing better footage in bright situations. Also nice: It’s $50 less than a Hero 7 Black.

Price: $349

9. Dyson V11 Torque Drive

The V11 Torque Drive is pricey, but nobody builds a vacuum like Dyson. At first glance, the V11 Torque Drive wireless vacuum looks nearly identical to the Cyclone V10 — it still resembles a ray gun! But look deeper and you’ll find a handful of notable upgrades, including suction that’s 20 percent more powerful, a 40 percent larger dust bin, and an LCD screen that displays battery life in real time.

Price: $699

8. Beats Powerbeats Pro

AirPods are great wireless earbuds for pretty much everyone, but if they don’t cut it for you, we highly recommend Beats Powerbeats Pro. Powered by the same Apple H1 chip as AirPods 2, the Powerbeats seamlessly connect to iOS devices and support faster audio switching between iOS and Mac devices. The wireless earbuds aren’t as compact as AirPods, but they do provide better fit, superior sound, and longer battery life (up to 9 hours versus 5 hours on a single charge).

Price: $249

The Oculus Quest and its built-in hand tracking made VR cool again in 2019.

Zlata Ivleva / Mashable

7. iPad mini 5 and iPad Air 3

The iPad mini (fifth-generation) and iPad Air (third-generation) may not look new — they’re rocking old designs — but they’re improved where it counts: inside. Besides differences in screen size, the iPad mini 5 and iPad Air 3 are virtually identical to their predecessors and are built to last for years to come. Both have powerful A12 Bionic chips, long-lasting battery life, and Apple Pencil (first-gen) support. These aren’t merely great tablets for watching video, playing games, and reading; iPadOS coming later this fall will make them even more capable alternatives to a laptop.

Price: Starting at $399 (iPad mini 5) and starting at $499 (iPad Air 3)

6. AirPods 2

Despite not adding any improvements to sound quality or listening time, Apple’s second-generation AirPods are still the best wireless earbuds for most people. The new wireless earbuds retain the same compact design, easy connectivity, and long-lasting battery life as the original, but improve talk time by an hour. AirPods 2 also have hands-free Siri voice controls and can be purchased with a wireless charging case.

Price: Starting at $159 (standard non-wireless charging case)

5. Huawei P30 Pro

Trump’s trade war with China continues to cripple Huawei, but that doesn’t change the fact that the P30 Pro has arguably the most impressive smartphone camera system ever crammed into a slab of metal and glass. Using a new “SuperSpectrum” image sensor and periscope system consisting of lenses and mirrors, the P30 Pro can shoot incredible nighttime photos and zoom all the way up to 50x.

Price: $818

The Galaxy S10’s three cameras make it as versatile as a DSLR.

Zlata Ivleva / Mashable

4. Google Pixel 3a and 3a XL

While everyone’s busy cramming in more features to justify ballooning prices, Google went in the opposite direction with the Pixel 3a and 3a XL. The materials aren’t as premium (plastic instead of metal and glass) and the performance is slower, but they still offer a best-in-class camera with Night Sight. The two mid-range Pixel 3a phones also come with a feature their more expensive siblings don’t have: headphone jacks.

Price: Starting at $399

3. Samsung Galaxy S10

A decade after releasing the first Galaxy phone, Samsung proved it hasn’t run out of steam yet. The company’s Galaxy S10all four of them — is easily the most uncompromising smartphone release of the year. Whereas other phones removed features to make room for new ones, Samsung added more without cutting anything. Big and gorgeous screens, versatile cameras, fast performance, headphone jacks, 5G — you name a feature and at least one of the S10’s probably has it.

Price: Starting at $749

2. OnePlus 7 Pro

After setting an impossibly high bar with the OnePlus 6 and 6T in 2018, OnePlus returned with the OnePlus 7 Pro, another beast of a phone. Not only does the OnePlus 7 Pro continue to undercut other flagship phones on price, it leapfrogs them with features such as a stunning notch-free display with a silky smooth 90Hz refresh rate, a rear camera system with three lenses (wide, ultra-wide, and telephoto), a pop-up selfie camera, and unmatched performance.

Price: Starting at $669

AirPods 2 are still the best overall wireless earbuds for most people.

Zlata Ivleva / Mashable

1. Oculus Quest

Believe us when we say we weren’t expecting Facebook’s Oculus Quest to be one of our top gadgets of 2019. The VR headset blew us away when we tried it at CES and then again when we got to play an extensive library of immersive VR games (like Beatsaber and Super Hot) when it launched in the spring. Quest isn’t a breakthrough for VR simply because it doesn’t require a beefy PC or smartphone or external sensors to track your head and hand movements. It’s a new milestone for VR because it’s actually fun to play with. The same can’t be said for pretty much all other VR headsets.

Price: Starting at $399

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Oculus sold $5 million worth of Quest content in first 2 weeks on sale

Facebook’s Oculus Quest standalone VR headset hasn’t been out long, but VP of AR/VR Andrew Bosworth says the company is already selling a substantial amount of content for the device.

At Vox Media’s Code conference, the exec detailed that in the first two weeks of sales there has been $5 million in content sales. We have not gotten any details on device sales, though Facebook has never shares sales data on their VR products.

The $399 headset does not require a PC or phone to operate and offers camera-based positional tracking like higher-end PC headsets have in the past. At launch the company’s store had just over 50 titles available to download, with a mixture of free titles and games costing as much as $30.

Companies in the VR space — even Facebook — have been reticent to discuss sales because there have been so few success stories. Facebook has gone all-in on the Quest’s launch, their marketing campaigns have been substantial so it makes sense that they’re willing to detail their successes here.

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'Vader Immortal' is the Star Wars VR game I've been waiting for

Star Wars and virtual reality always seemed like the perfect mix. Long before the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive were released a few years ago, I was eager to slip on a VR headset, hop in a rusty smuggler ship and wield a light saber of my own. While we’ve seen a few stabs at Star Wars VR experiences, they’ve either been too simplistic, or hard to access. But just as I was about to give up hope, along comes a guy a guy cloaked in black, carrying a red light saber. It turns out, Darth Vader was my Star Wars VR savior.

ILMxLAB’s Vader Immortal, the new series which launched alongside the Oculus Quest, feels a lot like a Star Wars side-story novel. You start off as just another smuggler, complete with a sassy robot and an endearingly lived-in ship. But it’s not too long before you’re yanked out of hyperspace and dragged to Mustafar, the volcanic planet that Darth Vader calls home. It turns out there’s something special about your bloodline (surprise, surprise), and you’re enlisted to help the Sith Lord unlock an ancient artifact that could help him cheat death.

From the beginning, it’s clear that Vader Immortal is a showpiece for the Oculus Quest. You start off in the cockpit of your ship, with the vastness of space ahead, and your Droid (Z0-E3, played by Maya Rudolph) right beside you. Almost immediately, I re-enacted one of my favorite Star Wars moments: I flicked a series of switches to my left, pulled down on the level to my right, and watched as the stars streaked into infinity as I jumped into hyperspace. Sure, it’s a bit of fan service, but it’s also a tactile example of VR’s immersion. I flicked those switches, I pulled that lever, I launched that ship.

Gallery: Vader Immortal | 6 Photos

After teleporting around the ship with the Oculus Quest’s controllers — the typical way you move around VR environments — the Empire came calling. I watched from the cockpit as the terrifying shape of a Star Destroyer appeared above me, just like the opening shot of A New Hope. Below, I could see a planet covered in red, almost as if it were on fire. Hello, Mustafar.

After my ship was pulled down to the planet — via tractor beam, of course — I watched with dread as Vader’s fortress appeared before me. On the landing dock, I quickly cleared my transport records right before stormtroopers blew their way into the ship. After being knocked out, I found myself strapped down a torture chamber with an IT-O Interrogator droid floating nearby. And then, things got worse. Vader (played by Scott Lawrence, doing his best James Earl Jones imitation) strode in and loomed at least a foot above me. It’s the sort of scale that’s tough to pull off when you’re not wearing a VR headset. On a TV, you won’t get the same prickly feeling of doom.

Naturally, you don’t stay imprisoned forever. The rest of Vader Immortal is basically an extended escape sequence, which involves lots of VR puzzle solving to hack through the Empire’s security systems. Mostly, they involve yanking open panels, moving dials and moving electronics around. I’m glad the developers at ILMxLAB trusted players with the puzzles: They’re not tough, but figuring out exactly what you need to do takes a bit of poking and prodding. That element of discovery sold the idea that I was a criminal on the run.

It’s not spoiling much to say that you get a light saber (there’s even a training option right on the main menu). After playing plenty of Beat Saber, I knew that the Oculus Quest could easily replicate the movement of Star Wars iconic laser swords. But I still had a ton of fun swinging away at enemies and deflecting blasters. The game gets the little things right: I got a kick out of hitting the trigger button to hear the satisfying crackle of the light saber opening up. And the iconic hum of saber swings felt like ASMR for Star Wars nerds.

Combat is pretty simplistic, but satisfying. You defend by holding your light saber in the opposite direction of oncoming attacks. And when you get an opening, you just have to swing wide to hit back. Given how well the Quest can track my hand movements, there’s certainly room for the game to add more complex attacks down the line. The action ramps up quickly: Eventually, I was deflecting lasers from a dozen stormtroopers at once. And when it came to hand-to-hand fighting, I found myself taking on two saber-wielding robots at the same time.

During the hour I spent playing the first episode of Vader Immortal, I felt like I was living through a solid Star Wars TV series. I won’t say much else about the game’s narrative, but I think true fans of the series’ lore will be tickled by some of its deep cuts. You could tell that the developers care deeply about every aspect of the experience. The loading dock at Vader’s fortress feels like it’s ripped right out of the films. The scale of some of the environments feels staggering. And most importantly, it’s actually well written by David Goyer. The ILMxLAB team also worked closely with LucasFilm’s Story Group, making the game an official part of the Star Wars canon.

At $10, the first episode of Vader Immortal is a must buy for every Oculus Quest owner. And for any true Star Wars fan, it’s reason enough to pick up that $399 VR headset.

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Devindra has been obsessed with technology for as long as he can remember — starting with the first time he ever glimpsed an NES. He spent several years fixing other people’s computers before he started down the treacherous path of writing about technology. Mission accomplished?







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The 6 Oculus Quest games everyone should get on day one

Image: ILMxLab

Can Oculus Quest change the game for virtual reality? Titles like Beat Saber and Vader Immortal could have the answer.

The new VR headset became available on Tuesday for $399. It doesn’t pack the same power as the Oculus Rift S, which needs to be connected to a high-powered PC. But it has a couple of big advantages. Namely, no wires and inside-out tracking (which means no need for external sensors). It’s a self-contained gaming console that you can take with you wherever you go.

The Quest launches with a big library of games and other software to check out. Read on for the games you absolutely need to consider if you’re taking the plunge into this new Oculus platform.

Beat Saber ($30)

Obviously, right? 

If there’s any Oculus Quest “killer app,” Beat Saber is it. This already excellent game shines on other VR platforms, but the total freedom to move lets you really fall into the rhythm and get your lightsaber dance on.

It’s a rhythm game in the vein of Guitar Hero, with “notes” flowing toward you in a non-stop gush, driven by the beat of whatever song you’re playing. Each note has a color and a directional arrow, telling you which of your two lightsaber-like energy swords you need to slash with, and in which direction.

It’s a simple and immediately intuitive concept once you slide the Quest into place and start a song. It’s also quite challenging — and strenuous! — as you ramp up the difficulty. Not only is Beat Saber a hell of a good time, it’s also a genuine workout once you get into the groove.

I can’t recommend this one strongly enough. If you’re only getting one game for your Quest, Beat Saber should be it. Without question.

Space Pirate Trainer ($15)

You ever hear of a “bullet hell” game? (Sometimes they’re referred to as shoot ’em ups, or simply shmups.) I’m talking games like Defender, Ikaruga, and Ikari Warriors. Contra. Star Fox 64. They all look different but embrace the same basic idea: you have to take on hordes of baddies while gracefully dodging around a torrential downpour of enemy fire.

Space Pirate Trainer brings that shmup sensibility to VR. It’s you, standing on a platform in the middle of a futuristic city with a gun in each hand. Each new stage sends a wave of floating robots after you, firing from all sides. You’ve got to dodge their attacks and gun them down, while a techno beat backs you up. 

There are some wrinkles that give you an edge. Each of your guns has different modes of fire to suit different playstyles and types of challenges. Enemy fire can be blocked with an energy shield. And you can also collect power-ups that offer an edge by way of limited-time boosts. 

Make sure you have a good amount of space around you for this one. Your hands swing all around as the difficulty increases, and it’s easy to lose track of your room-scale play area’s “center” as you fall into the rhythm of the action. What an exhilarating ride, though.

Superhot VR ($25)

Everyone remembers that one scene in The Matrix, the rooftop scene where Neo dodges Agent gunfire bullet by bullet with a movie-star-cool limbo move. Superhot VR attempts to capture that vibe — and it does a pretty dang good job.

It works like this: each brief stage pits you against a small group of enemies, armed and unarmed. When you move — specifically, when you move your hands holding each controller — time flows. When your hands stop moving, time stops as well. Superhot is a puzzle game built around your violent dance. You carefully sidestep or deflect incoming fire as you shoot, throw, and punch your way to victory.

It works. The first time you send an uppercut into an incoming enemy’s jaw, and then snatch their dropped pistol out of the air so you can return fire at the next approaching foe is such a rush. There’s a definite learning curve as the game goes on and challenges mount — which can be frustrating when checkpoint saves only happen after a collection of levels — but the play is so unique and engaging, it’s hard to just walk away.

Best of all: Superhot relies on heavily stylized black-white-and-red graphics. As violent as each scene gets, your foes are always these abstract person-shaped red crystal beings that shatter when they’re hit. Even if you’re generally averse to video game violence, this one is worth a look.

Moss ($30)

Moss is unlike any of the other games you’ll find on this list. For one, it’s entirely a sitdown experience — and it tells you as much right up front.

You control an adorable little mouse who finds herself on an adventure to save everyone from a great evil. It’s not the most original “chosen one” narrative, but it’s set against the backdrop of a world populated by a human-like society of forest creatures. 

At its heart, Moss is an adventure game highlighted by jumping and environmental puzzles with a side of combat. You control the little mouse directly but also have a measure of control over the world around her. That’s a big piece of what makes Moss challenging: each new screen is like a little forest diorama where you have to figure out which bits of the world you can interact with to clear a path for your little rodent friend.

It all comes together as a very effective VR-friendly spin on a traditional game genre. Moss is a delightful, adorable adventure that more than justifies its existence as an experience you have to live inside of to truly appreciate.

Robo Recall ($30)

So it’s like this: you live in the future and you work for a robotics company doing product recalls. That might not seem exciting, but the robots in this future have run amok and need to be shut down… with extreme prejudice. 

There are lots of VR shooting gallery-style games out there, but Robo Recall has them all beat. It looks great, for one. Each level set in the robot-overrun city is a convincingly rendered urban landscape that only takes a slight visual fidelity hit from the less powerful Quest. And you stop noticing even that once evil robots start to swarm in.

This is an arcade game through and through, broken into a series of levels that have you trying to hit various goals as you clean up the city. Your primary weapons have a limitless supply of ammo but a finite number of bullets in each clip, so when one gun goes empty you simply toss it aside and grab another one from your holster.

There are other weapons too. Downed robots usually drop a firearm that you can walk up to and collect — though you need to find another one once the clip runs dry. You can also get physical with any robot foolish enough to move in close, grabbing it and tearing it to pieces or simply tossing it at another baddie.

There’s no other way to say it: Robo Recall just feels great to play. Tossing empty guns aside and grabbing a new one off your belt or back never gets old. And nothing beats the thrill of tearing a marauding robot apart, limb by limb, or plucking a series of bullets out of the air — yes, you can do that — and tossing them back at a string of attackers, one at a time.

Vader Immortal – A Star Wars VR Series ($10)

Let’s get the bad news out of the way up front: Vader Immortal is short. The story portion of the experience — the first of three episodes — shouldn’t last more than an hour for most people.

Short isn’t bad, though! For one, this is a full-fledged game. If you think you’re just going to sit there while Star Wars talks at you, you’re way off. Vader Immortal is absolutely a room-scale game. You’ll climb ladders and pipes, user your lightsaber to deflect stormtrooper fire, and stand face to… well, chest with the dark lord himself (he’s really tall, folks).

Darth Vader is interested in you specifically for reasons that become clear over the course of the first episode. Most of it is set on the planet Mustafar — the lava world where Anakin Skywalker got skewered in Revenge of the Sith. It’s very much a first act, chronicling the events that lead directly to you taking on the role of Vader’s apprentice.

There’s more, too. Separate from the story mode is a lightsaber training arena. It’s just you, a lightsaber, and droids that want to ruin your day, spread across a good number of increasingly challenging levels. Luke and Vader might make it look easy, but deflecting laser blasts back at a target is hard! This mode helps you become a master. It’s also a freaking lightsaber training mode in VR OMG what more do you need to know??

It’s Star Wars, people. Vader Immortal kicks off an episodic, story-driven adventure set between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope. You are Darth Vader’s apprentice. You get your very own lightsaber. Can anyone who picks up a Quest really justify skipping this one?

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