Meta Quest’s virtual reality headsets will soon have a function that allows you to chat with other people on your home screen. The v41 Quest upgrade will include a multiuser Horizon Home area, as revealed by Meta during Connect last year. Horizon Home allows users to put on their headsets and ask other Quest users to join them in social events, such as viewing VR films together. It’s the first step toward a bigger Horizon-branded “metaverse,” which Meta has been gradually releasing over the last few years.
In a video featuring Free Solo climber Alex Honnold, Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced the launch of Home and gave a quick demonstration of the system. In a 360-degree video of Honnold free climbing the Dolomites, Zuckerberg and Honnold appear as Horizon’s conventional legless avatars, then move to a space landscape for additional conversation. More possibilities for personalizing your Home area are “currently under development,” according to Zuckerberg’s Facebook post. The v41 upgrade, according to a Meta spokesperson, will be published next week, at which point we’ll learn more about the system, including how many people it can support in a single hangout.
Horizon Home is the newest addition to Meta’s virtual reality meeting software Horizon Workrooms and Horizon Worlds’ creative and social platform Horizon Worlds. It’s similar to Facebook Spaces, a 2017 app that allows users to play minigames and shoot virtual photos with their friends. Horizon took the role of Spaces in 2019, however, it never caught on with the popularity of independent VR hangout apps like BigScreen, VRChat, and Rec Room. Until now, moving about and pulling up apps on the Quest home screen was a solo experience.
Home has the benefit of being immediately incorporated into the primary Quest experience, at least in principle. As part of its drive to move beyond its core social networking business, Meta has increased its virtual and augmented reality operations. Meta recently canceled plans for a future wristwatch and an early consumer-focused AR headset, focusing instead on longer-term AR glasses ambitions. However, VR software is a far more immediate bet, and Meta is filling a clear ecosystem vacuum for accessible, small-scale virtual gatherings in this space.