Hand tracking is now automatically enabled on the Oculus Quest

Viewpoint of the Oculus Quest
Viewpoint of the Oculus Quest (Image credit: Nick Sutrich/Android Central)

What you need to know

  • Oculus Quest software update v13 brings automatic hand tracking to the Quest experience.
  • Hand tracking will be automatically enabled when controllers aren't present.
  • The Oculus Browser now supports hand tracking in WebXR apps, so browser games can now utilize this feature as well.

Updated May 18, 2020: Hand tracking is now generally avaialble. The Oculus Store will start accepting titles with hand tracking on May 28, 2020. You can read more about hand tracking here.

Oculus software version 13 is rolling out to the Oculus Quest this week and UploadVR spotted a huge new feature headed to the forefront of the virtual reality experience: hand tracking. The first hand tracking beta was added to the Quest in December's software update, and now the feature looks to be exiting beta as the Quest will automatically track your hands when it doesn't see any powered-on controllers. That's a big step forward for hand tracking, which previously required you to manually enable them in order to enjoy the feature.

You can still use that manual switch on the Oculus Home interface if you want to switch between controller and hand tracking, but now it's more effortless to naturally interact with virtual elements. Hand tracking is an astounding innovation from Oculus and is currently only available on the Oculus Quest, although it's likely that Oculus will be bringing the feature to the PC-powered Oculus Rift platform sometime in the near future.

Right now, there's not a whole lot you can do with hand tracking other than browsing the Oculus Store and the Internet via the Oculus Browser, but that's also starting to change. With this big update comes the version 8.0 release of the Oculus Browser and the enablement of hand tracking in WebXR apps. While that sounds overly complicated, it basically means that games built into the browser experience can now take advantage of Oculus hand tracking, such as this example provided by Oculus. Open that link up on your Oculus Quest once you get the update and marvel at the realism that hand tracking can bring to the virtual experience!

These are the best hand tracking games for the Oculus Quest, and they're all free!

Automatic hand tracking enablement means that Oculus is confident with their development progress and is likely ready to allow developers to start using hand tracking in games. A number of experimental apps on the popular Sidequest sideloading platform, such as Tea for God, have already begun utilizing hand tracking in incredible ways, and many other developers have begun experimenting with full-arm simulation and realistic physics using only your hands in the virtual world. Whether or not games like The Walking Dead: Saints & Sinners get a hand tracking feature when they launch on the Oculus Quest later this year isn't yet known.

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