In the past few months, I’ve been busy getting all my devices in order for when the Oculus Quest releases. Among these was Firefox Reality, a dedicated web browser made specifically to work with Virtual and Augmented Reality. On April 30th, 2018, Firefox released its newest product onto Android via Early Access. It has since then gotten a significant update that includes new features such as built-in HMD compatibility and even an in-app store to purchase VR games! While this is a cool development, let’s take a look at what exactly makes the app so special:
In the past, Oculus mobile apps only allowed you to access standard websites in a flat screen in front of your eyes. This made it so you didn’t need a Virtual Reality capable computer and was very accessible for people who just wanted to play around with VR. The only thing you needed was an HMD and a phone, which is why I believe that developing an app like Firefox Reality will be crucial in encouraging more widespread use of VR technology along with smartphones.
You can download the Android version from this link: https://www.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/reality/android/?r=m
The beta version [of Firefox Reality] was buggy but looks to have gotten all its major kinks ironed out. Unfortunately, the app is not available for iPhone users (yet) even though they can access Firefox Reality through a web browser – it’s a bit convoluted, but you should be able to use this link: http://ocul.us/apps/ or go to their dedicated site here: https://www.firefoxreality.com/
But while I’m still on the topic of using your phone as an HMD, there are other ways to get into VR that doesn’t require you to purchase any additional equipment other than a laptop or desktop computer. There exists Virtual Desktop [on Steam], which provides an immersive environment where you’re able to watch movies from within VR and play normal PC games in full 360 virtual reality! While VirtualDesktop is not built exclusively for VR, it does have its own VR settings that let you create a virtual environment to work in.
The biggest drawback of Virtual Desktop is that it’s not free – you can get it at the bargain price of $14.99 but the upside is that the application has gotten rave reviews on Steam with 50% of users giving it 5 stars! This makes me believe that having an immersive movie-watching experience or even playing your favourite PC games will only make VR more feasible.
And while there are other apps I could discuss, let’s go back to talking about Firefox Reality… after all, this review was initially supposed to be talking about this app specifically. But I got sidetracked… While this application isn’t as special as Virtual Desktop, it is a free app that brings you one step closer to experiencing the first true Matrix-like web browsing simulation via a VR headset.