AltspaceVR needs to make VR chat periods a part of on a regular basis life
There are plenty of ways to hang out with other people in VR, from competitive games like EVE: Valkyrie to the Gear VR’s group video streaming options. One of the most advanced platforms is AltspaceVR, a cross-platform virtual environment based on the mirroring of real social activities. After a few months with the Gear VR mobile headset, AltspaceVR launched the consumer version of the Oculus Rift a few days ago and soon added support for the HTC Vive. Today, attempts are also being made to make VR a little easier to integrate with the rest of people’s lives by launching an Android app that reminds users of events and lets them invite other people to private VR “calls”.
The VR Call App is a simple but good looking companion app for Gear VR Compatible Samsung Phones that is mainly based on two functions. The first is the ability to see what’s going on and what’s coming your way in the network’s public spaces – such as voice sessions, stand-up comedy shows, and tabletop games. These are already listed on the company’s website. However, if you can get notifications and can launch straight into the main Gear VR app (without going through Oculus Home), you can reduce the friction a bit when using AltspaceVR.
Perhaps what is more interesting is the calling feature, which allows users to invite others to chat in private VR areas. AltspaceVR sets these up a bit like Skype sessions, but it’s more about collaborative activities than pure conversation. After logging into the app, you can “make VR call” and choose an environment like a game room, maze, or virtual art gallery filled with images from a selected Tumblr feed.
Invite your friends to a Tumblr art gallery
You can send invitations via email, SMS, Slack, or other messaging apps, and attendees will be given a link to join – although they obviously need an AltspaceVR account to log in and enter the room. In addition to apps for Gear VR, HTC Vive and Oculus Rift, AltspaceVR offers flat screen versions for Mac and PC, so that people without headsets can join. However, a big part of the service’s charm lies in the way that VR head-tracking avatars reflect real-world body language. So using it from a computer is closer to just setting up a meeting in Second Life.
Right now, this app launch won’t mean much to anyone who doesn’t have a Gear VR. Coupled with HTC’s most recent Vive companion app, which allows users to receive phone notifications through the headset, this is one of the first major instances of VR to become part of a larger tech ecosystem rather than a completely separate environment. The next step will be to develop more phones – and create more connections between those phones and all virtual reality headsets.