Free New Facebook Demos Showcase Quest Hand-Tracking

Facebook posted two Oculus App Lab experiences aimed at developers, including a new version of its First Steps showcase using hand-tracking tech.

Both First Steps and the other title, Tiny Castles, are free to download via the service but shouldn’t be thought of as fully-fleshed out gaming experiences. First Steps itself is an extension of the introductory app that users will experience when they boot up their Oculus Quest headset for the first time. The current iteration of the app focuses on controller interactions, but this edition puts Quest’s hand-tracking features front and center.

The actual content of the app remains the same, offering a range of experiences and items you can interact with. You can play with toy rockets, hold a ping pong paddle, shoot different types of guns and more. Those interactions have all been reconfigured to work without the need for a controller.

The App Lab description for the experience says it showcases “how hand tracking can replace your Touch Controller experience”. But it also emphasizes that this is an experimental version of the app for developers, which explains why it isn’t releasing on the Oculus Store proper at this point in time.

The other release, Tiny Castles, is an all-new experience with a number of new interactions. It casts players as a god that must save their followers from an evil entity, using a variety of mechanics built around hand-tracking. Those include grabbing objects from afar and tossing them onto a battlefield, picking up tiny characters with a pinch, or shooting fire from your fingers with a certain gesture.

Again, this is more showcase than it is game, and Facebook says it “lacks real challenge and difficulty balancing” as a result. Both apps were developed by Facebook’s internal ‘Strike Team’.

App Lab is primarily designed for third-party developers to publish titles on Quest without having to be approved for the Oculus Store and without users having to sideload content. But First Steps and Tiny Castles aren’t the only apps Facebook itself has launched on the service – at launch last month it also had a showcase demonstration of its SparkAR player.

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