We almost got the Google Play Store on Meta Quest headsets

The Google Play Store logo on the lenses of a Meta Quest Pro
(Image credit: Nicholas Sutrich / Android Central)

What you need to know

  • Meta and Google were reportedly in talks to get the Google Play Store on Meta Quest VR headsets, but talks fell through.
  • The move would have brought most Android apps to Meta Quest headsets to be displayed as a 2D floating window.
  • Any Android app can currently be sideloaded onto Quest headsets but few are officially available on the Meta Quest store.

Meta has been trying to get more 2D apps on the Meta Quest platform for years but the process seems to have been anything but smooth. One of the biggest problems is that, while you can install any Android app on a Meta Quest by sideloading it, there's no Google Play Store support on the Quest.

Meta CTO Andrew Bosworth said that the company looked into solving this problem when he answered a question on his latest Instagram AMA on November 7, 2023 (via UploadVR). Apparently, Google and Meta were in talks to get the Play Store on the Quest but, according to Bosworth, Google declined the integration.

We've reached out to both companies for comment, but both Google and Meta weren't willing to add anything more to the story.

As I highlighted in my first AC ThVRsday column back in September, the lack of the Google Play Store's presence on Meta's VR platform means that Meta will never catch up to Apple with the number of 2D apps available in mixed reality.

The Google Play Store on a Google Pixel 8 Pro in front of a Meta Quest 3

(Image credit: Nicholas Sutrich / Android Central)

Ironically, we just learned that Google offered Epic Games $147 million to stay on the Play Store back when Epic was working to pull Fortnite from Google's storefront. That seems to be counter to the strategy of not putting the Play Store on Quest headsets but it makes more sense when you consider Google's next big platform strategy.

Google and Samsung are working on their own XR headset project that's scheduled to launch at the end of 2024. Since this headset is reportedly focused on combating Apple Vision Pro, both companies are focused on delivering a mixed-reality experience that primarily displays 2D apps that you can see floating in your room while wearing the headset.

Having lots of apps available on day one is a huge priority for Google and Samsung, especially since Apple promised that all iOS apps would be available on Vision Pro on day one. The Google Play Store is the cornerstone of this strategy, and some have already wondered if Google is purposefully keeping the Play Store from Meta in an effort to leverage an advantage over the competition.

Boz says that Android developers can currently port their apps to Meta's Quest store, but that would require at least some work from developers as they would need to sign up for a Meta developer account and test app compatibility before it can be listed on the storefront.

Boz noted that the process is generally quick unless developers want to make specific modifications for VR purposes. For now, though, Quest users are either stuck sideloading their apps or using the small number currently available on the Quest store.

Nicholas Sutrich
Senior Content Producer — Smartphones & VR
Nick started with DOS and NES and uses those fond memories of floppy disks and cartridges to fuel his opinions on modern tech. Whether it's VR, smart home gadgets, or something else that beeps and boops, he's been writing about it since 2011. Reach him on Twitter or Instagram @Gwanatu