How sideload an app to Oculus Go without Oculus Store

The Oculus Go is an affordable, standalone VR headset, and we are very impressed with it! The Go is able to run Gear VR apps, but the Oculus Documentation is not very clear on how to install apps to the Oculus Go for development purposes. This article explains how to sideload APKs to your Oculus Go, without going through the Oculus Store.

Make sure you have paired your Oculus Go to your phone using the Oculus Go app.

Sideload APK to Oculus Go

First, you have to turn Developer Mode on for your Go.

  • Open the Oculus Go app on your phone
  • Click your paired Oculus Go headset at the top
  • Click More Settings > Developer Mode and then toggle Developer Mode ON

Next, install Android Debug Bridge (ADB) to allow you to run an APK install command.

Windows

  • Download ADB drivers from Oculus website
  • Unzip the downloaded file
  • Right-click on the .inf file and select Install
  • Go to Start Menu, search for CMD, right-click and open as Administrator
  • Type the following to test if installation was successful
    adb help
    • TIP: if you get a message along the lines of “adb is not a recognized command”, then cd to the installation folder of ADB (C:\Users\YOURUSERNAME\AppData\Local\Android\sdk\platform-tools), after which you can use adb.exe instead of adb in your commands

Mac

  • Install Homebrew
    ruby -e "$(curl -fsSL https://raw.githubusercontent.com/Homebrew/install/master/install)"
  • Install ADB using Homebrew
    brew cask install android-platform-tools
  • Test if installation succeeded
    adb help

After you successfully installed ADB, you are now ready to install your APKs.

  • Connect your Oculus Go to your computer using a USB cable
  • Check if ADB recognizes the device
    adb devices
    • If you don’t see any devices listed in the output, turn off your Go, disconnect the USB, power your Go back on, reconnect the USB and then run the command again
    • If see a device ID show up in the output with “unauthorized” behind it, put your Oculus Go on and give permission
    • If you see a device ID show up with “device” behind it, you are good to go and ready for the next step
  • Run the installation command
    adb install /path/to/your.apk

Congrats, you just installed your APK on your Oculus Go!

To run your app…

  • …put on your Oculus Go
  • Click on Library in the bottom menu bar and navigate to Unknown Sources (this menu item appears after you enable developer mode in the Oculus Go phone app)
    • In case Unknown Sources is not visible for you,  click the gear settings icon in the bottom right of the screen and change View to Developer Mode
  • Find your app in the list, and click on it to run it

C’est tout! The best part of it is that you can run Gear VR apps, without the need for those pesky Oculus Signature files.

This process seems cumbersome, and it kinda is, but once you have everything setup, all you really need to do is run adb install (or adb install -r if you are updating an existing app) and you’re done. Oculus recommend using their Release Channels instead of the above mentioned approach, but we prefer the hacky, faster way 🙂

TIP: to uninstall an app, use adb uninstall *package name*. For example, adb uninstall com.headjack.myapp

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