Oculus App Lab is a new feature for Quest that allows developers to release and publish apps to the official Oculus Store without going through the Oculus review process for app submission.
This means that every app needs to be improved to appear but now, developers can release games in the early stages of development and allow people to download them without sideloading.
SideQuest was one of those platforms that developers use to share games in the early stages (e.g. beta, alpha) as they couldn’t do it on the official Oculus Quest store.
This is a quote from Oculus official page:
“Today we are introducing App Lab, a new way for developers to share their creations safely and securely with Quest owners without Store approval.”
To download a game, all you need to do is tap the blue button to get the game to appear in your Ques or Quest 2 headset. Once you put the headset on, you will see the app in the app list. Now you need to tap the app icon to start installing it—it won’t install automatically.
There are both free and paid apps. Remember, those are apps in the pre-release stage, early access, or in a very early stage of development. So there might be bugs and other issues that you might encounter.
This will make it much easier and with more control to allow devs to promote their early access and games through the official Oculus store rather than going to other platforms. They can use both if they like of course. As you can see, even if you use SideQuest, developers will just link to the official Oculus Store and not release the apk directly. They can do that, but once App Lab offers such a convenient way to install these apps, I wonder how many will use Sideloading to download apk’s directly to the Quest VR headset.
Another thing is that you can see those games loaded via App Lab as regular apps in the app section of your headset with the thumbnail—Great!