With the release of the Oculus Go headset, many InstaVR clients learned about the benefits of using something called Release Channels. You could take your InstaVR-generated Oculus Go app and easily distribute it globally — to other offices, partners, clients, and more. It’s the easiest way to get your VR app on specific Oculus Go headsets without physically having to touch the headset.
Below we’ll walk you through what Release Channels are, how to use them with your InstaVR account + Oculus Go, and some popular use cases.
1. What are Oculus Release Channels?
The latter involves uploading your created .apk to a cloud managed by Oculus. As opposed to the regular public Oculus Store, the InHouse Oculus Store is for building and deploying private apps not accessible to the general public. You can select and choose which users/headsets can access your app.
The Release Channels go by three different names — Alpha, Beta, and RC. Essentially, for your purposes, they’ll all serve the same function. It just helps you for organizational purposes to have more than one to choose from.
Adding an app to a Release Channel means you can then distribute that app simply by adding an email address associated with Go headset to the Release Channel. The headset user will have to put their Headset in Developer Mode, and have signed up for a free Oculus Developer account online. But the ease of distribution makes this well worth it.
Because the Oculus Store method won’t publish your app to the general Oculus Store, you don’t have to worry about unwanted parties accessing it. You can also update the already distributed app using our Direct Publishing methodology — see video below — which enables updating an app without having to touch a headset or downloading/uploading a .apk.
If you haven’t used Release Channels before, it’s actually relatively easy. No technical knowledge is required. And because you can add up to 100 email addresses to a Release Channel, you can distribute an app very widely through your company or to partners/clients.
2. How to Use Oculus Release Channels
1. Create a new project on the Oculus Developer Page (note: you’ll have to sign up for a Free account with Oculus, if you don’t already have one)
2. Create the .apk VR experience using InstaVR and package it for the Oculus Go. Packaging instructions can be found in the How-to Guide for Publishing to the Oculus Store.
3. Log back into your Oculus Developer account, choose the project, click Manage Builds, and select the Release Channel you’d like to upload the .apk file to. You can select Alpha, Beta, or RC.
4. Upload your .apk. Oculus will then after a few seconds or minutes confirm the file meets their standards with a blue dot and the text “Complete” under Test Status. If there’s any errors in your app, the Oculus Developer page will let you know. (The most likely cause of error is not entering the right App ID from the Oculus page in InstaVR prior to packaging)
5. Still in Managed Builds, click Users. Add the email address of the Oculus Developer account paired to the headset you’d like your app to appear on. Then click Add Users. You can add up to 100 email addresses in the Release Channels, meaning potentially 100 headsets.
6. The email address you added will get an email from Oculus/Facebook. The recipient will have to click the link in the email to approve. The app will then be accessible in their headset to select to add to the main library. (Note: headset must be in Developer Mode for the app to appear. If you followed the previous steps, but don’t see your app in the headset, go to the widget in the lower right of the Oculus Go home screen to ensure you are in Developer Mode)
7. If you’re planning on updating that single app on a regular basis, you can use our Direct Publishing methodology. This allows for remote updates without having to upload any new .apks to the Oculus Developer Page.
8. That’s it! Any questions or issues, reach out to our Support Team over Live Chat on weekdays.
3. Example Use Cases
Geographically Distributed Go Headsets
More and more companies have locations throughout not only a single country, but also the world. A lot of training you put together for one location may be applicable in other locations too. For instance, if you standardize your warehouses, you can create one VR training experience for all warehouses.
Release Channels allows you to distribute the apps without having to touch the headsets using a USB cable. This is particularly valuable if your headset users are non-technical. And since you can add up to 100 associated email addresses to the Release Channels, you can even segregate your headsets by division (ie Human Resources, Operations, Sales, etc).
Making Oculus Go VR Apps for Partner/Clients
Many clients of InstaVR users are not technical by nature. So the ability to remotely push out Oculus Go apps to them is very valuable. You can easily, remotely add apps to a headset without confusing the client — they just need to press a link in an email for it to appear in headset.
The Direct Publishing feature also has a lot of value. You can have select clients only maintain one app on a headset, and continuously update it. This would be great if you’re planning to routinely — say weekly or monthly — update the content of the app of your client/partner.
For Employees that Travel a Lot (ie sales presentations)
Often the employees utilizing VR are not the ones making it. If you have a travelling sales organization, for example, you can’t expect them to create, download, and transfer apps easily to a headset. So your creative team, the ones making the VR apps, can remotely program which content goes on a headset. This frees up your sales team to do what they do best — run sales presentations.
Release Channels are a great way to distribute Oculus Go apps easily and securely across an organization. The InstaVR -> Oculus Go headset process is smooth and scaleable. Regardless of your use case — employee training, sales/marketing presentations, operations, education — it’s worth a look at using Release Channels if you’re purchasing more than one Oculus Go.
As always, let us know if you have any questions. Good luck with all of your Oculus Go apps!