Enable More Connected, User-Friendly Experiences with the Rich Presence and Deep Linking APIs
Oculus Developer Blog
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Posted by Oculus VR
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December 12, 2019
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We all know that the VR ecosystem has incredible potential to transform into a social and connected digital universe. We’re working to help people have a more cohesive social experience in VR, at the same time increase distribution and engagement for social apps on our platform.

This week we introduced a number of new social features for consumers that allow them to be more social on the Oculus platform -- you can read more here. We’re also introducing new features that allow you as developers to build social discovery into your apps and make your content more discoverable. These new APIs allow your audience to do things like see the status of their friends in VR apps, join those friends instantly in VR, or share their location with a link they can use to launch VR content on their Oculus Quest or Rift from any device with a web browser.

These features will be launching alongside a great lineup of social apps with whom we’ve partnered to make the most of hanging out with friends in VR this holiday, including: Arizona Sunshine, Racket: Nx, Cloudlands 2, Dead & Buried II, Skyworld: Kingdom Brawl, Racket Fury and Epic Roller Coasters, with many more exciting titles on the way.

And we’ve designed these features with privacy in mind. This week we introduced a new setting which allows audiences to control the information they share regarding their VR activity in specific apps. So people can always let friends know when they want to join a match of Racket: Nx, without revealing all of the games they enjoy each week.

Integrating these new social features into your app

Rich Presence, Destinations and Deep Linking API are available today as part of the Oculus Platform SDK, and can be integrated with any app backend service, including Oculus Rooms API.

Rich Presence API

We heard feedback from people that it’s difficult to find and share opportunities to be social with their friends in VR. The Rich Presence API allows an application to update the platform with a user’s destination and activity status within the app, helping friends coordinate gatherings in VR.

Rich Presence can be configured with information that allows someone to launch in VR, exactly at the desired in-app location, instance or shard. So you can easily direct a player to the right place when they are trying to join a friend, or provide them with additional context, like whether that player can be joined, if they are looking for players, how many spots are left in that experience and the time remaining on the current game.

As displayed in the image above, you can define destinations for content within apps, which can be used to deep link people to specific places, and highlight when those destinations are popular.

Destinations

We’ve historically had little way to know about the content of apps on the platform, limiting the ways that we can promote great opportunities for users to engage with this content.

Destinations are the ‘where’ of Rich Presence, allowing developers to define a level, game mode, or in-app content that someone might want to launch to. You can also provide a lot more context as to where someone is with images, a title and description.

With Destinations and Rich Presence, users can not only coordinate getting together with friends, these will also make it easy to view which destinations are popular at the moment, highlighting when people are playing your favorite game mode.

Deep Linking API

In the past people had to go through several steps to launch your app and get to the right place. The updates we’ve made to deep linking make sharing both a person’s rich presence status, and links to specific places in your apps, easy and powerful.

When a person launches your app using one of these deep links, you can query for the destination you defined, along with any additional context that you provided for either the destination or the rich presence of a specific user at that destination, to direct them to the correct place in the app. As pictured below, deep links will direct users to a dedicated page on Oculus.com, from which they can select which device to remotely launch content, or purchase apps they don't currently own and install them on their device.

These deep links extend beyond VR. For every destination you create, we’ll provide you with a URL, which you can use to share new levels or game modes via social media.

When a person clicks a link they’ll see a web preview of the in-VR destination and a list of all the devices which they can launch it on. With a single click, they can launch the app and deep link to the specific destination, from outside of VR. When they put on their headset, they’ll already be on their way to that destination.

The same deep linking allows users to invite friends to VR. People can send a deep link directly to their friends through Facebook Messenger, who can then join them with a single click.

If you implement these APIs, we’re able to showcase the amazing content within your app across the Oculus experience, and beyond.

What’s next?

While these new APIs already unlock new ways for people to discover and connect with each other in VR, there are many more features coming soon which take advantage of the Rich Presence, Destinations and deep linking capabilities, including:

  • Scheduled events and Parties that take place at specific destinations, allowing users to plan where they are going and launch there together.
  • Destinations for Leaderboards, so people can launch their favorite competitive app to the desired level and challenge their friends.
  • Even more ways for users to use and share destinations, helping more people see the amazing experiences you build in VR, and get there in a fraction of the time.

Be sure to review the Destination and Rich Presence page for Unity, Native, or Unreal, depending on your development platform . For more about the latest social development features, check out last week’s post covering the recent updates to Leaderboards and Mike Howard’s OC6 presentation on Building Social Experiences and Connecting People at Scale, embedded below. We look forward to seeing what sorts of unique, social experiences you build with these latest updates!