HTC Vive owners with iPhones can now get phone notifications in virtual reality, just like their Android-affiliated compatriots. The iOS version of HTC's Vive companion app is now available on the App Store, after making a fleeting appearance prior to the Vive's launch. The app enables one of the Vive system's unique features: the ability to receive calls, text messages, and calendar reminders inside VR.
We first tried out HTC's notification system when it was released on Android in early April, and it's a clumsy execution of a great idea. In addition to downloading the mobile app, users will need to install some otherwise nearly useless HTC Vive desktop software. You can't get notifications for things like email or messaging apps. And one of the coolest Android features — the ability to send quick preset responses to calls or texts — isn't present on iOS. At the same time, it's an option that no other VR headset offers. And given how physically isolating VR can be, it creates a helpful lifeline to the outside world.
Unfortunately, as a disgruntled (and satirically minded) reviewer noted, the app does not literally ship a Vive headset — and they're currently backordered until June. "I gave it another shot by taping my phone to my face," writes the reviewer. "But the app, yet again, failed to act as a virtual reality device." Caveat emptor, indeed.