Meta’s new portals allow you to travel between VR apps on Quest. But the feature has strong limitation.
For resounding success, the Metaverse must become like the Internet. Instead of jumping from page to page, you jump from one virtual space to another, independently of the application and with other Metaverse travelers. Without obstacles, without the need to open and close programs.
Today’s technology is still far from this vision. The closed nature of applications, operating systems and platforms shows that there are narrow limits to this concept. At least in Meta’s VR ecosystem, traveling from VR app to VR app is now possible in principle, but under certain conditions.
Meta introduces cross-app travel feature
Meta has rolled out a new interface for developers: the Application-to-application travel API.
“We envision a metaverse where people can travel together seamlessly between different apps and stay connected while exploring our platform’s library of VR experiences,” according to the Oculus Developer Blog. The goal is to strengthen the interconnectivity of VR applications.
The new interface builds on two existing features of the Quest platform: destinationswhich allows users to directly access specific worlds or levels of a virtual reality application, and group launchthat enables collaborative travel to such destinations.
For the first time, the new interface allows users to travel to destinations that are in a VR app other than the one currently open. Developers can create “portals” that serve as connectors for individuals or groups of virtual reality users.
Meta writes that these portals act as bridges that connect different VR experiences and encourage people to explore their app ecosystem more deeply.
Great functionality, lots of limitations
The new travel feature is not a given: developers must first implement it in their VR app, then actively collaborate with developers of other VR apps to establish interconnectivity.
Without concrete partnerships between studios this is not possible, as inter-app moves require a “handshake” between apps. Implementation is a bit easier if a studio manages multiple VR apps and creates portals between them. Another fundamental limitation of the travel feature is that the destination app must be downloaded and installed.
Although Meta talks about “portals”, moving one VR app to the next VR app should only involve a confirmation window and the next destination app loading. A real portal with seamless transitionas envisioned by VR developer Quentin Valembois (see article image), is currently still a chimera.
The App to App Travel API supports Unity and Unreal. More information can be found in the Oculus Developer Blog and official documentation.