If you own an Oculus Rift, you’re going to love the new software update rolling out to your VR console starting in December 2017.
Oculus announced today at its annual developer conference the “biggest software update yet” to its Rift headset.
The update, known formally as “Rift Core 2.0,” will make it easier to multitask and perform traditional computer tasks while in virtual reality. It will also radically change the user interface of the Rift headset. After the update, when you boot up the Oculus Rift, you’ll be greeted by a brand new desktop called “Dash.”
The new Dash UI takes all of the Oculus Rift’s existing menus and reorganizes them into a central hub that can be operated with Touch Controllers.
As explained in a blog post, Dash will run as an overlay inside the existing Oculus VR software. It allows users to browse their games library, chat with friends, and use full-blown PC applications. The company hopes it will make multitasking easier and navigating files more intuitive.
A short demonstration of the new interface at the Oculus Connect 4 developer conference today looked extremely promising. It essentially allows you to grab individual windows, place them anywhere, and resize them in an “infinite” workspace. It’s easy to imagine running most computer tasks like this in the distant future.
But that wasn’t the only major update the company showed off during the conference keynote presentation. Another important part of the Rift Core 2.0 update is the brand new Oculus Home — or what is essentially a virtual home that people can hang out in and launch apps from.
Users will be able to customize their Oculus Homes with toys, furniture, and artwork, and even choose the landscapes they can view, hopefully enticing people to enter virtual reality more often. It’s like a home away from home… but one that can be placed in crazy locations like outer space or underwater.
Another cool element of Oculus Home is that it will let you build a virtual trophy case to show off your in-game achievements that you collect while playing games. The Oculus Home is also a place you can invite friends to if you want to hang out, play games, or just chat in virtual reality.
The concept isn’t entirely new, though. VR fans will notice that is shares a lot in common with the Microsoft Cliff House, which lets you perform most of the same basic tasks: launching apps, hanging art, and building trophy cases.
Still, it’s a great way to make people feel more comfortable in virtual reality, and to get them coming back. Who wouldn’t want to customize their very own mansion?
The Rift Core 2.0 update rolls out in beta for free this December. Whether it’s dramatic enough to save the Oculus Rift’s weak sales numbers is an entirely different issue.