Oculus Updates Rooms, Adds Events To Gear VR, Introduces VR Facebook Live streaming

Oculus released some changes to its mobile VR platform this week. The company launched Rooms 1.2, which introduces more things to do with your friends in VR, and Oculus Events, which helps you keep track of public events and schedule multiuser experiences with your friends. Facebook also extended its livestreaming service to Gear VR users.

Oculus introduced Oculus Rooms at Oculus Connect 3 in October and subsequently launched the multi-user feature near the end of last year. Rooms lets you share video and audio content or play a variety of mini-games with a group of friends inside a virtual environment. With Room 1.2, you can watch 360-degree content with a group, too.

The new update introduces the “collective viewing dome,” which is essentially a spheroid monitor that sits in the middle of a shared environment. With the viewing dome, you can watch 360-degree video from Facebook, or you can watch one of the animated VR short films that Oculus offers on its service, such as Invasion! or Henry. The spherical display inverts the video so that you can view it from the outside instead of from within the clip’s scenery. The new version also lets you watch free content on Vimeo.

The search function for Oculus Rooms also received an update. Now, you can use your voice to search for Facebook content to watch with your friends. The voice search feature is an extension of a new voice command feature that Oculus just rolled out today for Oculus Home on Rift and Gear VR. Oculus Speech Recognition lets you navigate menus and search for content in Oculus Home. Eventually, you’ll be able to check your friends’ online status and invite them to join you with a simple voice command.

Oculus also introduced Oculus Events with the latest Gear VR update. Events make it easy for you to schedule things that you wish to do in VR and set up reminders for those events. You can schedule multiplayer sessions with your friends or join public events with anyone. Oculus said it would highlight special events in Oculus Home, and it created an Events tab where you can search for other events. Oculus said that there, you’ll find game tournaments, trivia events, and tech talks, among other things.

Facebook owns Oculus, and the parent company had an announcement today, too. Facebook is preparing to roll out VR Facebook Livestreaming via the Gear VR headset. In the coming weeks, the Gear VR software will receive an update that adds a “Livestream to Facebook” button in the universal menu, which will enable you to share your VR games with your friends over the social media platform.

Facebook said the Gear VR livestreaming option is already available to Gear VR users outside of the U.S. Stateside users must wait for the next Android OS update.

 Kevin Carbotte is a contributing writer for Tom's Hardware who primarily covers VR and AR hardware. He has been writing for us for more than four years.