Oculus is announcing today that soon users will be able to login and access their Facebook account and News Feed from inside of the Oculus Home interface on Gear VR.
According to an Oculus spokesperson:
“We are beginning to test a Facebook tab for Oculus Home on Gear VR. We wanted to make it even easier for people to view Facebook within Home, since people were already visiting Facebook in the new Oculus Browser. With Facebook for Oculus Home, people will be able to browse News Feed, check notifications, send & receive messages, and more, all without leaving VR. This is currently a small test, and we will continue to refine the product experience before rolling it out more broadly.”
Currently this is a very small test with Gear VR users globally so not many people will see the functionality yet. You can log in or out at any time so it’s not required to use Oculus Home in any way — it’s optional. And if you don’t use it, the Facebook tab will remain as an option at the bottom. When we asked about Rift support, the spokesperson replied: “Right now this is only for Gear. We will continue to learn from this test and iterate based on our findings.”
When Mark Zuckerberg’s social media empire bought Oculus it was unclear what the combination of those two brands meant for the VR landscape. Would your Facebook persona be permanently tied to your Oculus persona? Would you be tracked and watched at all times in VR, similar to how your browsing habits are for targeted ads on the social media site? It raised a lot of questions and over the past few months we’re starting to see some of the answers.
When we asked the Oculus spokesperson if this new “Facebook in Gear VR” feature will impact how user data is being tracked, they responded: “Facebook is not tracking behavior differently with this experience than it does for any other version of its apps, and logging into Facebook for Oculus Home does not link your Facebook and Oculus accounts.”
Back in April of this year Oculus introduced a new sign-up process when using Oculus Home for the first time. Through this process you could opt to link your Facebook account directly to your VR identity. Granted, at the bottom in partially obscured text, there is an option to bypass that if you don’t have a profile on the site, but the actual result is that thousands of people likely have Oculus Home accounts tied to their Facebook now. Currently, there doesn’t seem to be any real reason for anyone to resist that.
In fact, one of the best social VR experiences we’ve seen so far, Facebook Spaces, is only possible because of the social media giant’s support and integration. You can already livestream games to your Facebook account as well and view 360 content that have been uploaded.
What do you think about this news? Let us know down in the comments below!