Developers can now distribute Oculus Quest apps without going through full store approval or requiring sideloading.
Oculus Quest is a semi-closed console-like platform. The Oculus Store was previously the only official way to distribute apps. Owners can however declare themselves developers to enable sideloading, with games & experiments available from 3rd party service SideQuest, which automates the USB sideloading process.
App Lab, available now, lets developers upload apps to the Oculus platform and share them directly with users via a URL or key. The apps can be free or paid.
Clicking the URL opens the apps’s listing in the Oculus smartphone app where the user can purchase or install it on their Quest.
These apps don’t show up in the main Oculus Store, but once redeemed show up in your VR library and support automatic updates as well as platform features like achievements & leaderboards. You don’t need to declare yourself a developer to install an App Lab app and a PC isn’t required.
Oculus Store approval is notoriously difficult to secure, which left some rejected developers struggling to recoup the investment they made in porting to the mobile VR system.
App Lab still requires basic approval from Facebook, but the process is much shorter than for the store. Apps should be approved as long as they adhere to the Oculus Content Guidelines & Facebook’s Data Use Policy.
App Lab doesn’t replace SideQuest. In fact, SideQuest now supports App Lab URLs in place of the APK file, continuing its role as the de-facto alternative app store for Oculus Quest. Because App Lab doesn’t require a PC, these apps can effectively be installed from SideQuest’s website via your phone’s browser.
Developers can submit apps for App Lab in the Oculus Developer Dashboard.