Update: As of today the update is now officially rolling out across the entire ecosystem, not just in the PublicTest branch.
Original: Oculus is rolling out a test for a major feature that Rift owners have been clamoring for — parties. The new update will let up to four friends chat with one another across Oculus Rift apps.
Here’s the explanation of the latest update:
Today we’re rolling out an update to PublicTest that includes a new feature: Parties for Rift, so you can talk live with friends. In Oculus Home or Universal Menu, you can select a friend and choose “Invite to Party.” Friends in your party can chat with you across Rift apps, or wherever you go in VR. Each party can support a total of four people at a time and each person must have the PublicTest build installed to use Parties on Rift. Access to Parties will be rolling out gradually over the next twenty-four hours, so if you don’t see it right away, be patient.
We recently covered the other major feature in the 1.17 test update which allows Rift owners to stay inside Oculus Home to enter virtual worlds downloaded from Steam or elsewhere. That post includes some instructions so you can join the test.
The important “Parties” social feature couldn’t come at a better time with the impending demise of Altspace, giving Rift owners a chance to more easily socialize in VR. Valve’s Steam added a social home space in recent months. While the Rift feature is just an initial release, it might dramatically change the way some people use the headset. Hopefully this is just the beginning of social feature additions to Rift.