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, with and without the Oculus Store. If you want to skip all these manual steps, you will also find a FREE sideloading tool at the bottom of the article.

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

  • TIP: Almost daily I receive messages from users saying the app they installed does not show up in the Unknown Sources tab on their Oculus Go. The reason is that they install general Android apps, but you can only install apps made for Oculus Go. So don’t try to install Facebook or Whatsapp, it will not work.

Sideload APK to Oculus Go using ADB

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 and install Android Platform Tools
  • 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

  • Open Terminal (click the search icon in the top-right corner of your Mac, type “terminal”, and press ENTER)
  • Install Homebrew by typing the following command into the Terminal window, press  ENTER to execute the command:
    ruby -e "$(curl -fsSL https://raw.githubusercontent.com/Homebrew/install/master/install)"
  • Install Android Platform Tools, which contains ADB, using Homebrew * by typing the following command in your Terminal:
    brew cask install android-platform-tools
  • Test if installation succeeded by typing the following in your Terminal:
    adb help

* Alternatively you could also install Android Platform Tools from the Android website, but then you might have to use the full path to the adb executable in the command line instead

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

Attention: replace the “/path/to/your.apk” in the command above with the actual path to your .apk file on your computer. On Mac, you can simply drag & drop the .apk in the Terminal window to find out the correct file path.

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.

TIP: to uninstall an app, use adb uninstall *package name*. For example, adb uninstall com.headjack.myapp (this package name is shown behind the app name in the list of Unknown Sources in your Library).

 

Sideload to Go using Oculus Release Channels

While we prefer the hacky, fast way mentioned above, Oculus recommend using their Release Channels instead to load apps onto the Go, which allows you and others you invite to access your app through the Oculus store (without going through the entire submission process). The biggest benefit of this approach: no command line is needed!

This process is similar to submitting an app to the Oculus store, except we won’t be publishing it for everyone to see. It will be private to you and the people you invite. Here are the steps to follow:

  1. Build an Oculus Go Store app
    1. To make a store-ready app, create a Keystore file
    2. Retrieve Oculus App ID by going to https://dashboard.oculus.com > Manage > *organization* > *app* > Getting Started API
  2. Log in to https://dashboard.oculus.com
  3. Click on Manage in the menu on the left
    1. Create an Organization if you don’t have one yet
    2. Click Create New App if you don’t have one yet
  4. Click on your app in the menu on the left and then click Manage Builds
  5. Click on the three dots at the right side of the Beta channel, and click Upload New Binary to BETA to upload your .apk file
  6. Click on the three dots at the right side of the Beta channel, then click Manage Users

  7. Fill in your own Oculus account email address (and any other accounts you want to give access to your app), check the box to agree to the terms, and click Add Users
  8. Now go to your email inbox, and click the confirmation link to accept the invite
  9. Now open your Oculus Go, make sure you are logged in with the same Oculus account you just invited to the Beta channel
  10. On your Go, click Store and scroll down to the very bottom on the first page that opens to find My Preview Apps
  11. Under My Preview Apps you will see your app, and you’ll be able to install it just like you would install any other app in the Oculus store

 

Free sideloading tool

Many people tell us they experience problems with the above two methods of sideloading an app to Oculus Go, which makes sense, because both methods are quite inconvenient. That’s why we developed a helpful tool to make the sideloading process a breeze. On initial startup, it will automatically install all the required software, and after that you’ll be able to install an APK with a simple drag & drop!

VRsideloader

If this sounds good to you, leave your email address and we will send you a download link straight away: