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Meta is forcing Apple into virtual reality

A Meta Quest 2 user.
Meta
A Meta Quest 2 user.
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One of the most useful but lesser-known features of Meta’s Quest 2 virtual reality (VR) headset is its ability to track the physical exertion of the user across various apps. Now Meta is connecting its fitness app to the world of Apple mobile devices, including the Apple Watch, the iPhone, and the iPad, through the Apple Health fitness data aggregator platform. 

Much like the Apple Watch Activity app, which shows the user a constantly updated display of their movement statistics on mobile devices, the Oculus Move app lets the user set daily calorie burning and movement goals that appear in view on the Quest 2 headset while using VR apps. 

The data sharing won’t be automatic, users will need to opt-in. And once the Oculus Move data are shared with Apple Health, the statistics will continue to be stored using end-to-end encryption on Meta’s servers. Additionally, for users concerned about privacy, Meta states, “We don’t use your Oculus Move stats to inform the ads you see on any Meta services.”

Meta’s data sharing initiative is a peek at Apple’s immersive internet future

This is one of the first major moves from Meta demonstrating Mark Zuckerberg’s oft-repeated promise that it will keep its metaverse endeavors open and interoperable with competitors. The shift is also notable in that it represents Apple’s first real connection to the VR side of the metaverse, albeit passively, now that the Meta Quest will bleed into the Apple ecosystem beginning next month. 

A number of credible analyst reports have pointed to the impending release of an Apple immersive computing device. It remains unclear whether the device will come in the form of augmented reality (AR) smart glasses, a VR headset, or a combination of the two. But industry rumors hint at a release window of either late 2022 or 2023.

A recent ramp-up in hiring for Apple’s AR and VR ventures indicates that Meta and other VR platforms may soon have major competition from Cupertino. In the meantime, this pairing of two of the leading tech platforms will give us a preview of at least one way the metaverse will travel with us wherever we go. 

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