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How to get iPhone notifications in VR with Oculus Quest

You can stay connected with a VR headset on -- if you're an iPhone owner. Android owners will have to wait a bit.

oculus-quest-notifications

The Oculus Quest 2 gets iPhone notifications, and it's great when gaming (usually).

Scott Stein/CNET

I'm in the middle of an important mini-golf game in VR. Suddenly, I hear a familiar Slack ping. My wrist buzzes. I can't see my watch, or my phone. I can, however, see a pop-up window that shows me the message. I know now that I can ignore it just a bit longer and finish my putt.

Virtual reality can be amazingly immersive, but its biggest drawback is that you're cut off from information from everywhere else. A recent update to Facebook's Oculus Quest software this spring now allows iPhone owners to get their notifications in VR. So far, it's been an extremely convenient and oddly destressing tool. I no longer need to worry about what I might be missing, and I get a quick sense of whether the headset needs to come off ASAP.

There are downsides. The notifications can be seen in VR, but they can't be responded to, and of course the apps that sent the notification can't be opened. (My iOS apps don't run in Oculus VR because Oculus has its own library of apps.) And sometimes the Bluetooth connection can be a little weird. Also, interruptions in VR may not be what you're looking for when you're immersing yourself in another world. And this is iPhone-only. Android support should come at some point, but it's not clear when.

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I still love that this feature was added, and I think it's an essential step to where phone-connected displays need to be. If you're ready to get your Quest connected for iOS notifications, here's how to set it up.

Make sure your Oculus Quest OS is updated. In Settings on your Quest headset, go to About, then look for Software Update and see if you're running the newest version (right now around 30.1). If there's an "Update" button, click it.

Turn on Notifications from the Oculus phone app. On your iPhone, go to the Oculus app and pair with your Quest headset. The phone app is what's used to set up your Quest in the first place and is where the Notifications settings live. Click the Devices icon on the bottom of the app, make sure your Quest headset shows up as paired -- it can take a while -- then tap Phone Notifications from the list of settings and make sure that phone notifications are turned on. Toggles for individual apps are listed too, so you can authorize specific apps that have recently received iOS notifications (or not). Also double-check the Bluetooth Settings on iOS, and make sure the Oculus Quest has Share System Notifications turned on.

On the Quest, go to Settings and turn on Phone Notifications. In the Notifications section of the Quest's settings, go to Phone Notifications, and toggle them on. Below that you can also toggle messages or particular apps on and off. I prefer to have everything turned on, but you have options.

See if it works! I found I had to restart the Quest and my iPhone once, but generally I get notifications. And it's pretty helpful so far, like wearing a basic old-school Pebble smartwatch on my VR face.