Facebook-owned Oculus VR has officially opened Rift Core 2.0 beta to the public, allowing owners of the Rift virtual reality headset to play with its new features – including Dash, an all-new interface for traditional applications.

Designed for use with the £399 Oculus Rift and Touch Controller virtual reality bundle, Rift Core 2.0 brings with a claimed raft of improvements over the company’s previous releases. Chief among these is the Dash, a new user interface designed to make it easier to use non-VR applications – such as messaging software and video playback packages – from within the virtual environment, without having to take the headset off.

Dash fundamentally changes what you can do with Rift and how you use the device. It brings major improvements — it’s easier to switch apps, connect with friends, and generally do more from inside of VR,‘ claims Oculus VR’s Nate Mitchell in a developer diary detailing the new release. ‘One of the main features of Dash is Oculus Desktop, letting you access your Windows desktop and traditional apps. This opens up new creative possibilities for Rift, using Spotify to play music, YouTube to watch videos, Chrome to surf the web and check email, or Notepad to take notes — all from within VR.

The ability to pull up Dash anywhere and leverage your PC is powerful. Even in this early incarnation, we’re getting a ton of mileage from Dash, especially for internal development. We’re really looking forward to seeing the community use Dash in ways we never expected.

As well as the new Dash system, Rift Core 2.0 includes a revamped Oculus Home environment with the ability to customise the player’s virtual room through furniture, artwork, and other interactive objects – unlocked ‘by logging into Rift and spending time in VR for the beta‘, Mitchell explains, without ruling out the possibility of items being paid for through microtransactions in the future. ‘In the beta, you can share your Home with friends and visit your friends’ spaces to see what they’ve created,‘ he adds. ‘One of the key features we’re working on is real-time hangouts — making it easy for you to get together with friends in your Home and create together. This is one of our top priorities for the year ahead. Long term, Home will bring more and more of the Oculus Platform to life in VR. And as part of its evolution, we’ll provide more ways for you to help shape and share it.

Rift owners interested in trying out the beta need to opt in to the public test channel to receive the update, while a user guide has more information on the features themselves.



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