How to run Quest 2 without Facebook Account — Experimenting with Test Accounts

[Update March 2021]: Quest recently received a new software update that expands Test Account functionality and fixes many of the earlier shortcomings. Quest 2 has now access to Oculus Link, Oculus TV etc — See here for full update]

As holidays come and go a lot of Virtual Reality users might be weighting their options. Should someone get a PCVR headset or should they opt for Quest 2? And what should they’re actually gifted Quest 2 but feel ambiguous towards obligatory Facebook requirement. Before folks make up their mind, they should know there’s also a third option: test accounts.

These test accounts let you log into your Quest and run it in a sort of a developer mode, which while not fully functional it’s still better than nothing. It allows for experimentation and retains core functionalities you’d expect from a VR headset.

I decided to try and test this little known feature on a brand new Quest 2 that hasn’t been paired before and see if I can get it to work, effectively bypassing the need for a FB account, arguably the most controversial part of the whole setup. And it worked - without jailbreaking or rooting required.

First of all credit goes to Skarredghost who reported on this feature in November. It’s through his post that I first learned such an option even exists. So if you’re having trouble navigating the developer dashboard go and check out his article where he posts step by step instructions.

Right out of the gate let’s summarize the things you can do with a test account:

  • You can connect Quest to a PC and use it as a PCVR headset wirelessly via ALVR or Vridge (but not Virtual Desktop)
  • You can browse Internet (including WebVR/WebXR) using either built in Oculus Browser or Firefox Reality
  • You can Install apps from the SideQuest store.

What you cannot do is use the official store to purchase or install games, which unfortunately means no access to any Oculus Store apps.

[Update March 2021: Versions 25 and newer now include few preselected apps like Oculus TV, Oculus Move, Quill Theater etc]

Using test accounts is fine with Oculus Terms & Conditions (as opposed to say, creating fake throwaway Facebook profiles) but there’s no guarantee it will stay like that forever. First of all, Sidequest itself is constatly evolving. Applications that were once available for download (Engage VR, Cubism VR) are now part of the Oculus Store and with that, they were subsequently removed from the Sidequest. More importantly, Oculus itself is planning to change its distribution model and allow people to upload and download unlisted apps directly from the Oculus platform via download keys. For many developers this would make the whole process of sideloading less enticing — why ask users to download and install entire adb files, when they can simply give out download keys instead (via SideQuest or any other distribution channel).

So who might be most interested in Quest 2 headset running on Test Account?

  • PCVR users that are looking for an affordable alternative to tethered headsets.
  • SideQuest enthusiasts that are mostly spending time (and often money) on SideQuest Store anyway, or OpenXR supporters who want to encourage a more open ecosystem.
  • Developers or people who are testing, showcasing and demoing dev apps and need an easy and effortless way to switch accounts without having anyone’s FB login involved.
  • People who do not want to have a Facebook account out of principle or have one but do not want to merge it with Oculus due to concerns around privacy and ethics.

Looking a bit ahead, there’s a lot of talk about possible Quest 2 rooting. However despite a $10000 bounty offered for a Quest jailbreak there was only one major attempt and it wasn’t even a success as the results were quickly put into question.

As of now there’s still no confirmation that the device has indeed been rooted — and even if someone does eventually hack Quest 2 we have to understand it will most likely be just a blank Linux /Android OS. Even something as basic as a VR shell would have to be coded from scratch. Imagine removing iOS from Iphone and replacing it with something else. You’re not going to end up with everything same only without Apple, you’re going to end up with a barebones hardware device. Same thing with Quest 2 root. It will surely be an interesting sandbox for some of the more hardcore tinkerers and coders out there but nothing usable in terms of general public.

There’s only a handful of competitive ecosystems, and non of them offers anything similar to Quest or SideQuest for that matter. There’s no SidePicoNeo or SideHuaweiVR as their content ecosystems are just not big enough to warrant having a secondary store.

So for now, especially in the standalone space, the Quest 2 will reign supreme. And for those looking for a workaround — Test Accounts seem like the best choice.

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