Meta Quest virtual reality headsets will soon offer an option for hanging out with other people in your homescreen. The v41 Quest update will add a multiuser Horizon Home space, which Meta announced last year at Connect. Horizon Home lets people put on their headsets and immediately invite other Quest users to jump into social experiences, including watching VR videos as a group. It’s a step toward a larger Horizon-branded “metaverse” that Meta has been rolling out piecemeal over the past few years.
Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced Home’s rollout in a video with Free Solo climber Alex Honnold, offering a brief demo of the system. Zuckerberg and Honnold appear as Horizon’s traditional legless avatars and pop into a 360-degree video of Honnold free climbing the Dolomites, then switch to a space landscape for more chatting. In the Facebook post, Zuckerberg says more options for customizing your Home space are “currently in development.” A Meta spokesperson told Road to VR that the v41 update would be coming next week, when we’ll presumably find out more details about the system, including how many people it supports in one hangout.
Horizon Home joins Meta’s Horizon Workrooms VR meeting software and its Horizon Worlds creative and social platform. It’s similar to Facebook Spaces, a 2017 app where you could play minigames with friends and take virtual selfies. Spaces shut down in 2019 to make way for Horizon, and it never appeared to reach the popularity of independent VR hangout apps like BigScreen, VRChat, and Rec Room. And until now, the Quest homescreen has been a solitary experience where players could move around and pull up apps.
In theory, Home has the advantage of being directly integrated into the core Quest experience. Meta has also ramped up its virtual and augmented reality efforts as it has attempted to transition past its traditional social networking business. The hardware part of that strategy is still in flux, with Meta recently canceling plans for an upcoming smartwatch and an early consumer-focused AR headset, focusing on longer-term AR glasses plans. But VR software is a much nearer-term bet, and here, Meta is filling an obvious ecosystem gap for easy, small-scale virtual meetups.