VR has become much more powerful over the last three years. We’re seeing great leaps forward in 360-degree cameras (Insta360 Pro 2), all-in-one VR headsets with 6 Degrees of Freedom + robust hand controllers (Oculus Quest), and headsets with amazing clarity that are guaranteed to wow you (Varjo).
You’d think with the step up in quality output, there’d also be more complexity to building VR for these headsets. But the opposite is actually true. It’s now easier than ever to build, deploy, and improve VR apps.
In the 3+ years since InstaVR officially publicly launched, our mission has been to enable companies to build robust VR experiences at a reasonable price point. Our other core missions are simplicity and speed. The faster you’re making and deploying VR apps, the better ROI you’ll see.
To that end, we’ve made several changes in the last year to achieve those goals. Below we’ll detail three of the main upgrades to the VR creation process that you are hopefully taking advantage of, even if you don’t know it.
And if you have any feedback on how we can make things even easier or faster for you, let us know via the Contact button in the lower right of the page!
1. Faster Packaging, Improved Live Previewer
Though we haven’t announced this publicly, we’ve made several upgrades to the Packaging system over the last year or so. What does this mean to you, the user? Faster packaging times! And faster packaging means you can access and distribute apps faster than previously.
How have we achieved faster packaging? Part of it is by making the app as “lean” as possible, keeping the size of the app down a bit. This is helpful in general, as VR apps require a lot of data. Particularly for streaming, before 5G becomes globally widely available, keeping apps a reasonable size while not sacrificing quality is key.
We’ll of course continue to work on the Packaging system, and as a SaaS solution, you’ll continue to benefit.
We also announced two new features of our Live Previewer this week: Oculus Quest compatibility and offline app access.
What is Live Previewer? Read this article when we announced for a pretty thorough overview. In a nutshell, it’s an InstaVR created app you can download that will let you “Preview” your apps as you build them in your InstaVR Console. So as you place a new Hotspot or Navigation link in a scene on your laptop, you can view what end users would see on your iOS, Android, Oculus Go, Gear VR and Oculus Quest devices.
The Quest compatibility is particularly important. Live Previewer saves you significant time, as you don’t have to continually package apps to see resulting VR experiences. Quest doesn’t allow for InHouse Oculus Store apps (yet), so the only way to load Quest is via sideloading, using the ADB (Android DeBug) method. That process, from packaging to sideloading to viewing, wastes valuable time when you’re in the development phase of creating your app.
We highly suggest you try out and use Live Previewer if you’re going to be making a large number of apps, or testing out various things within your app, particularly if you’re making an Oculus Quest app.
2. Easier Distribution
Some types of VR apps are easy to distribute. For instance, Google .apk files have virtually no restrictions. So you can host an InstaVR-generated .apk on your web site, on a file sharing site (ie Dropbox or Google Drive), or create a QR code where users download the app directly from InstaVR.
But for higher end headsets, it has often been difficult to distribute apps. For instance, the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive require the headset to be tethered to a high-powered laptop, so you need the InstaVR-generated .exe file on that specific laptop. Gear VR requires .osig files, meaning you can only sideload Gear VR .apks to very specific phones.
Oculus Go introduced a revolutionary new distribution method — Release Channels. Using only the email address associated with the Oculus Go VR headset, you can use the Oculus Cloud to distribute your InstaVR-generated VR app to specific headsets. This is so much easier for distributing than asking your employees/partners/clients to sideload an Oculus Go app using ADB software.
Even with all the championing we’ve done for Release Channels, it still feels underutilized. You can literally have Oculus Go headsets set up at your offices globally, and with the addition of one or more email addresses to your Oculus cloud account, push that app out so it’s downloadable on the global headsets. No shipping the VR headset back to headquarters. No more having non-technical people learn what ADB is. Just easy access to files you’ve created.
We also introduced something called Direct Publishing for Oculus Go. This handy solution lets you update your apps, without you having to re-package and re-distribute for the Go. The end user will see there’s an updated app for them in their Oculus Go headset to download.
You can have one single Oculus Go app on a VR headset, and then update that content weekly/bi-weekly/whenever.
Release Channels and Direct Publishing add so much efficiency to the distribution part of VR application building. It’s one of many reasons that many Gear VR and Oculus Rift users have opted to switch to the Oculus Go. We’re eagerly awaiting the hopeful arrival of Release Channels for Oculus Quest…
3. Faster Feedback via Analytics
Analytics are a key part of the post-VR distribution experience. And they give you a lot of details on what’s “working” and “not working” in your VR apps. Are users following the paths you intended? Are they completing apps? How long does it take them?
The combination of in-Console Analytics and the ability for users to enter their ID gives you a lot of information, in a single location, that you can act upon. This is a marketer or creative’s dream!
You don’t need to know any mathematics to see whether your VR app is “converting” the way you expected. Just follow the interaction path of users to see how effectively they’re navigating it and how long they’re viewing for. Then iterate and improve the VR app experience.
Before, you had to solicit feedback from users either in-person, via email, or some other post-VR experience methodology. Now, you get real actual data on behavior. It’s simple to access, simple to interpret, and simple to act upon. Check it out if you’re an InstaVR Pro or InstaVR Enterprise subscriber directly in your Console!
There’s been a lot of media spotlight on VR over the last year, particularly as Enterprise use cases start to expand. For many new-to-VR people, the prospect of making a VR app seems daunting. But when they discover that a platform like InstaVR makes creating VR easier than making a web page, they’re shocked.
Recent updates to our platform & VR in general — including the above mentioned faster packaging, better live previewer, more distribution options and robust analytics — make VR app building easier than ever. The main limitation now for people is creativity in utilizing 360 3D technology
If you know someone who is interested in VR but thinks it’s too tough to build, share this article with them. Once they sign up for a Free account with us and make a test app, they’ll see that VR can be done through drag-and-drop with no coding.
And once they experience the efficiency of building a VR app, they’ll be hooked!