Horizon Workrooms - new VR app from FB
Facebook’s journey toward making virtual reality a thing has been long and circuitous. While Facebook has managed to succeed in finessing the hardware and operating system of its Oculus devices, over the years it has struggled most with actually making a good app for VR.
The company has released a number of social VR apps over the years, and while each of them managed to do something right, none of them did anything quite well enough to stave off a shutdown. Most VR users don’t have a ton of other friends that also own VR headsets, and that users haven’t been looking for a standalone social app, so much as they’ve been looking for engaging experiences that were improved by social dynamics.
To that end, Facebook this week unveiled a demo - for a workplace app called Horizon Workrooms, which launches today in open beta for Quest 2 users.
The app seems to be geared toward providing work-from-home employees a virtual reality sphere to collaborate inside. Users can link their Mac or PC to Workrooms and livestream their desktop to the app while the Quest 2’s passthrough cameras allow users to type on their physical keyboard. Users can chat with one another as avatars and share photos and files or draw on a virtual whiteboard.
Horizon Workrooms isn’t a social app per se but the way it approaches social communication in VR is more thoughtful than any other first-party social VR app that Facebook has shipped. The spatial elements are less overt and gimmicky than most VR apps and simply add to an already great functional experience that, at times, felt more productive and engaging than a normal video call.
It all plays into CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s recent proclamation that Facebook is transitioning into becoming a “metaverse company.”
Now, what’s the metaverse? In Zuckerberg’s own words, “It’s a virtual environment where you can be present with people in digital spaces. You can kind of think of this as an embodied internet that you’re inside of rather than just looking at.”
Horizon Workrooms is living under the Horizon brand, which seems to be where Facebook’s future metaverse play is rooted. The VR social platform is interestingly still in closed beta after being announced nearly two years ago. If Facebook can ever see Horizon’s vision to fruition, it could grow to become a Roblox-like hub of user-created games, activities and groups that replaces the native app mobile dynamics with a more fluid social experience.
The polish of Workrooms is certainly a promising sign of where Facebook could be moving.
Read more: https://www.oculus.com/workrooms/