Upcoming Changes to Focus Awareness and Immersive Overlays

Oculus Developer Blog
Posted by Oculus VR
February 23, 2021

Today, we’re announcing some upcoming changes to the focus awareness feature and immersive overlays to help users stay engaged in Quest apps. Last year, we introduced immersive overlays, letting people access the Quest universal menu from within focus aware apps without having to return to their home environment. Since then, Quest users have come to prefer overlays as a way to use system capabilities like checking notifications, adjusting settings, and sharing media without leaving their current app.

We want this to become the default way that system UI is accessed so that people can always seamlessly multitask without being pulled away from their app. Showing system dialogs as overlays also benefits developers by allowing their audience to complete actions like in-app purchasing, media sharing, and social engagement more seamlessly integrated into the experience.

Starting on March 16, 2021, we’re making focus awareness a requirement for newly submitted apps to the Quest Store and App Lab as part of our Virtual Reality Checks (VRCs). This requirement won’t apply for updates to existing apps, but we strongly recommend enabling support to be consistent with user expectations and leverage the benefits of future overlay capabilities over time. Later this year, we’ll enable focus awareness for all apps, regardless of whether it’s been enabled by the developer. This way, users can reliably access the universal menu and system actions as overlays without interrupting the app.

How to Prepare Your App for Focus Awareness

It’s up to you to decide if and how you’ll update your app to gracefully handle the appearance of overlays within your experience. See our Overlay Design Guide for best practices to consider in making sure your users can access system UI without impacting your app’s experience.

When it’s time to enable focus awareness, see our documentation for specific guidance on enabling and handling changes in input focus for your app framework:

Testing Your App with Immersive Overlays

Starting with the v25 OS update, Quest users can enable the experimental Universal Menu Overlays feature to automatically make all apps focus aware. You can use this feature to test how your existing app handles the appearance of overlay system UI. This can be useful for informing if and how your app should be updated before focus awareness becomes enabled automatically.

We look forward to Quest users being able to access all of their system UI from anywhere in VR so that people can have deeply meaningful experiences in your apps. If you have any questions, let us know your thoughts and suggestions in the Developer Forums.