Hand-tracking on the Oculus Quest 2 and Meta Quest Pro is set to get a huge upgrade in the next update, with the new Direct Touch feature making it much easier to navigate menus and type using the virtual keyboard.
I love the idea of hand-tracking on the Oculus Quest 2 and Meta Quest Pro – being able to ditch your headset’s controllers and use your hands to interact with the VR experience makes your interactions feel more natural. But in practice, it’s a lot more clunky than it should be.
Once you’re in a game or app it’s usually fine, but getting there by navigating the Quest 2 and Quest Pro’s menus with their pinch and point controls is a chore. This is why I’m both nervous and excited to try out the rumored Apple VR headset – as it’s reportedly completely controller-less.
The Quests’ hand-tracking issues could soon be a thing of the past, however, as the Public Test Channel v.50 update has introduced the Direct Touch feature, which will allow you to touch and swipe in menus as if you were using a smartphone.
As shown in a video posted on Reddit (opens in new tab), turning on Direct Touch brings the Quest headsets’ menus closer to the user, and you’re able to interact with the screen just by tapping on it. What’s more, rather than having to point at and click letters on the Quest’s virtual keyboard you’re able to type with your fingers – as someone who's tried to write whole articles in VR but given up after a few paragraphs, this is a serious upgrade over the exceptionally tedious typing method we had before.
For now, Direct Touch is exclusive to Public Test Channel users; however, given that the feature looks ready to ship, we expect it won’t be too long before the v50 update gets a full release for all Quest users.
How to join the Quest PTC
If you want to join Meta’s Quest Public Test Channel so that you can try updates like Direct Touch before everyone else, here’s what you have to do. Just note that you probably won’t be able to join unless you get lucky.
- Open the Meta Quest mobile app
- Tap Menu in the bottom-right corner of the screen
- Tap Devices in the menu that appears – it should be near the middle of your phone screen
- Connect to your VR headset then open Headset Settings – this option is near the bottom of the screen.
- Select Advanced Settings, then tap the toggle next to Public Test Channel
If you don’t see a toggle next to Public Test Channel, that's because, unfortunately, the program has a limited number of users and no waiting list, so if the maximum number of people are signed up to it you won’t be able to join, and you can’t put your name down on a waiting list. If you’re desperate to join, you’ll just have to watch the Advanced Settings page like a hawk, and hope a spot becomes available.