Your Guide To Sideloading Apps And Games On The Oculus

Want To Sideload Games and Apps On The Oculus Go Or Oculus Quest? Read This Tutorial!

Perhaps you’re keen to install VR apps which are unique and unavailable through the Oculus Store? Or perhaps you’d like to use standard 2D Android applications such as Steam Link or Amazon Prime Video? In this helpful guide, you’ll learn how you can achieve both of these aims. Before you get started, you’re going to require a Windows PC that has an integral USB port. This is because an Oculus standalone headset isn’t capable of sideloading any apps itself.

You’ll find three types of games and apps which can be sideloaded:

  • VR apps – just like the ones you would download through the regular Oculus Store, these VR apps may have been rejected by Oculus or their developer may have chosen not to make them available through the store. Remember, though, you need to choose unique VR apps which are made specifically for use with either Oculus Quest, Oculus Go or Gear VR. Daydream and Google Cardboard apps don’t work.
  • Android television apps – these simple games or media apps are designed for use on televisions that run Android. They’re displayed on the list of apps in the Oculus TV virtual screen. You’ll find that these apps are suited to Oculus TV well, since virtual televisions have a user interface which works in the same way as that of a real television. You’ll find that the majority of Android television apps work (save those from Google).
  • Android smartphone apps – the standard Android apps designed for use on smartphones can also be downloaded to the Oculus. However, note that not all will work. The Oculus operating system isn’t equipped with the Google Play Services which so many apps rely on to function. It’s also possible you’ll experience input issues since these apps were created for use with touchscreens. There is also an addition step to bear in mind if you wish to use this sort of app, but you’ll find out more about that further on in this article.

Bear in mind that no sideloaded apps are vetted or checked by Oculus. This means that you could be taking a risk by installing them since they may affect the stability or security of the headset.

Initial Setup

  1. Enable The Developer Mode
    First, put your headset into developer mode. This will allow you to sideload games and apps to it. You can only do this if you’re registered as a developer. Don’t worry though – it’s free to do this. Simply go onto your PC to visit dashboard.oculus.com. Create your own “organization” then accept the agreement that you’re shown. You’re now a developer! Once you’ve done this, open up your Oculus app through your tablet or smartphone. Navigate to the tab for Settings, tap on your headset then top on the “More Settings” tab. You’ll see the Developer Mode on the list. Should developer mode not be listed here, reboot your headset and phone and try again.
  2. Install Your ADB and Drivers
    Next, install the driver for the PC. This will enable the installation of any apps you install onto the VR headset. The driver can be downloaded from Oculus.com. As soon as the download has finished, you can extract the produced Zip file to a folder. You now install it by right clicking on android_winusb.inf then clicking Install. Once you’ve done this, you have to download the ADB software. This allows your PC to transfer then install the apps on an Android-based device such as your Oculus headset. You should extract everything in your platform-tools folder into another folder which is easy to locate on the PC- for example, C:/ADB. When you’re sideloading, you’ll have to type the path so if you put the file close to the drive root will save you typing time in the end.

Installing An App

You can follow the steps outlined here if you wish to install an application:

  • Connect the headset via USB to the PC
  • Right click the Start button on the screen’s bottom left
  • Click on the Command Prompt
  • Now type in the CD command. This will navigate you to the folder into which you extracted your ADB download contents
  • Type adb install -r command. Follow this by the complete path to whichever sideloaded app you’d like to install. All Android apps have an .apk ending.

Launching Your Sideloaded App

If you’re ready to launch your first sideloaded app, you’ll need to follow this process:

  • For VP apps, put your headset on. You’ll notice your Library has a brand new section labelled Unknown Sources. Here, you’ll see all the VR apps which have been installed with ADB.
  • For Android television apps, you’ll find them on the application list in your Oculus TV app.
  • For Android smartphone apps you’ll need to complete an additional step so they can be put on the launcher. First, sideload the TVAppRepo app. This generates shortcuts to any Android smartphone apps sideloaded to the headset.

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