How VR Could Replace Your Laptop

Android apps could change everything

Key Takeaways

  • Virtual reality could eventually replace your laptop or PC as the hardware and software become more capable. 
  • A recent Oculus Quest rumor suggests the Facebook-owned VR company could be bringing Android apps to its headsets. 
  • Experts say that having access to the Android ecosystem on VR could open up a whole new range of capabilities.
Someone wearing a VR headset while working from a home office.

Eva-Katalin / Getty Images

You may not need your laptop much longer as virtual reality gains new capabilities, experts say. 

A recent Oculus Quest rumor suggests the Facebook-owned VR company could be bringing Android apps to its headsets. It’s part of a growing movement to make VR useful for more than gaming. New apps do everything from allowing you to exercise to work in a virtual world. 

Androids apps on your headset could make all the difference when it comes to productivity, allowing access to software like Zoom and Microsoft’s OneNote. Twitter user @TheMysticle recently found some Android Apps under the preview apps section of the Oculus store. 

"Many believe that VR will ultimately be the main computing platform for how humans interact with digital content," DJ Smith, co-founder of virtual reality company The Glimpse Group, said in an email interview.

"This would include replacing most of the functionality of today’s televisions, computers, and phones. The simple analogy is, why do I need to pay for a big-screen TV in my living room if I can put on a VR headset and feel like I’m in my own private movie theater."

A New World of Apps

Putting Android on the Oculus could open up a whole new world for users, Hayes Mackaman, the CEO of 8i, a VR software company, said in an email interview. 

"Right now, the allure of VR is somewhat limited by the difficulty in navigating the application ecosystem," Mackaman said.

One of the most important short-term use cases for Android compatibility is pushing the headset to the 'workplace of the future' market.

"Consumers have grown very used to having a seamless user experience. To me, this is a step in the right direction for Oculus—the more that accessing Android in VR can be seen as an extension of your current mobile experience, rather than a disruption, the greater the demand for the product."

Work is the next frontier for VR as most apps released for users are games, observers say. 

"One of the most important short-term use cases for Android compatibility is pushing the headset to the 'workplace of the future' market," Mousa Yassin, the founder of Pixaera, an immersive training company that uses both VR and PC-based simulations, said in an email interview.

"The headsets do need to become more comfortable for long hours, but the ability to access everything we can access on mobile can be a gigantic leap for Oculus."

Yassin envisions VR as the perfect-distraction space, where you can control your working environment without any physical or hardware constraints. 

"You can open as many apps as you want, at the same time, and place them anywhere around the room," he added. "While you're working on an Excel sheet on one monitor, you can have investment charts on a massive cinema-size screen, with an active Zoom call to your left and so on."

Don’t Toss Your Laptop Just Yet

Oculus Quest 2 owner Brian Turner is already using his headset for work. 

"Using apps like Immersed, I've been able to remotely connect to my desktop, carry out my tasks, and stay productive," he said in an email interview.

A pregnant woman wearing a VR headset while working in a home office with a laptop nearby.

Eva-Katalin / Getty Images

"In a similar vein, Android would be useful in VR by virtue of empowering the user. Giving people the choice in what tech they want to use is the natural next step forward in normalizing VR on a wider scale."

But Turner isn’t giving up his laptop until VR headsets get better battery life. He said his Oculus Quest 2 lasts about three hours on a full charge. 

"Having to take off your headset and head back to the laptop is inconvenient as it breaks up your workday and harms your productivity," he added. "Until the next evolution in VR technology, this will be a significant inhibitor."

Not everyone agrees that laptops are heading to the trash bin anytime soon. VR headsets are too low-powered to handle many everyday computing tasks, Caseysimone Ballestas, a VR researcher at the Technical University of Delft, said in an email interview.

"Yes, there may be some cross-over in use cases well suited to both computing types (gaming is a good use case that has true traction within both computing domains)," Ballestas said. "But fundamentally, the needs of users on a laptop are not the same as those using a VR headset."

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