Virtual and augmented reality were hailed to be the next wave of computing, reshaping the way we interact with computers and digital content. So far that hasn’t happened because headsets are mostly beyond anyone’s means and most of the software for VR and AR have mostly been designed with entertainment in mind. Untethered headsets like the Oculus Go and, to some extent, the Samsung Gear VR are designed to address that and the new mobile version of Virtual Desktop could give them more things to do in those virtual worlds.
Virtual Desktop isn’t really new and has been around on the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive for quite a while now. As the name suggests, the software provides a desktop in a VR setting, projecting a Windows PC’s screen onto a virtual plane. Of course, it also lets the user control said PC via pointing and “touch typing” using Windows’ on-screen keyboard.
What’s new in this almost silent release is freedom from cables. At least if you own an independent Oculus Go or have a Samsung Galaxy phone and Gear VR headset combo. You will want to have a 5 GHz Wi-Fi network though since you’ll be transferring a lot of data wirelessly back and forth between headset and Windows. You can hook up as many as 4 computers at a time and switch between any of those in a near instant.
Other than that, it’s the same core Virtual Desktop experience which lets you do almost anything you would on a PC from your corner of the VR world. Well, almost. Yes, watching videos is a primary use case, especially for those you can’t directly access on the Oculus platform. You can also play games by hooking up a Bluetooth game controller to the Oculus or smartphone, not to your PC, mind. And you can even use it as a regular computer with a Bluetooth keyboard and mouse. Provided you can operate a computer without seeing your hands.
The mobile version of Virtual Desktop is available from the Oculus Store for $9.99. The Oculus Rift version, on the other hand, costs $13.99 while the HTC Vive version on Steam goes for $14.99. Whichever version you choose, you’ll still need the free Streamer app installed on your Windows computer. At the moment, it seems that there are still some kinks to iron out and the developer promises more features to come soon.