The Oculus Quest is a standalone VR headset that can render games and applications without a desktop PC. You normally install games and apps through the Oculus Store, but you can also load unofficial apps using a PC.
Where to find downloadable apps
Since you’ll need an APK of the app itself to load it from the side, you’ll need a location to get them. The best unofficial registry for downloaded apps is Secondary Quest, an alternative store for Quest applications. While some of them are chargeable, most of SideQuest’s apps are completely free.
Warning: As always when you load apps (or just download software from the web), you need to make sure you only download apps from trusted sources.
Sidequest has a standalone desktop application that manages the actual side loading process. You can send applications to SideQuest directly from the website, which will install them directly on your Oculus Quest, provided it is connected to your PC.
In addition to side loading, SideQuest has tools for sending ADB commands, browsing device files, and changing device settings. You are also not limited to SideQuest apps: you can load anything you need an APK for.
Sideloading An App
First, you’ll need to activate developer mode to allow side loading. There is no toggle for this from the helmet, only from the Oculus app for iPhone, iPad or Android. Select “Settings” in the app, click on your headset (you may need to turn it on) and select “More settings”.
Select “Developer mode”.
Then activate the switch.
Oculus recently started forcing people to sign up for their development program to activate developer mode. It’s completely free, but you will be redirected to their website where you will be asked to log in and create a new “Organization”. You can just enter your name and go back to settings.
You may need to flip the switch again after you create your organization. Once it’s actually turned on, you’ll need to restart your headset to apply the changes. Once the backup is complete, you will be asked to allow USB debugging, which will allow side loading. Check “Always allow”.
Next, download the SideQuest app and install it on your PC. Once you’ve charged it, you should see the headphones connected in the upper corner. If it is not connected, you may need to install the Oculus App to have Quest install the appropriate drivers for the helmet.
Once connected, you can load apps by installing them from the app itself, installing from the website (which will open SideQuest), or manually installing the APK from the commands at the top right .
If you want to uninstall apps, you can also do it from SideQuest. Click on the “Applications” menu under the commands, then select “Uninstall the application” in the application settings.
Where to find applications loaded in parallel
Unfortunately, you will not find any downloaded applications on the Oculus Quests home screen. Facebook really wants you to spend money in the official Oculus store, so your Quest places downloaded apps in an “Unknown Sources” category in the Library menu.
This list is always easily accessible, but you will not be able to pin them in the favorites or even display the thumbnails.