Even though the Vive Focus won’t be available outside of China until later this year, it’s already getting a major update which will make it a lot more versatile. At the annual Vive Ecosystem Conference in Shenzhen just now, HTC announced that as of today, its standalone 6DoF (6 degrees of freedom) VR headset can install a “System Update 2.0” which adds a handful of notable features.
One of the main highlights here is the added ability to receive calls, social notifications and messages from a paired HTC smartphone, with the recently unveiled U12+ being the first model to take advantage of this immersive feature. This is nothing new for existing Vive users, of course, as the Vive companion mobile app already supports the PC-powered headset on this end.
Another cool feature brought by this major update is a “Surroundings Mode,” which is basically a see-through mode that can be toggled by simply double-clicking the power button. This is likely the same mode that allowed HTC Vive’s China Regional President Alvin Wang Graylin to do a catwalk while wearing a Vive Focus at the Shanghai Fashion Week back in March. During today’s conference, Graylin also demoed a live phone call through the headset while walking up to the stage at the same time — he didn’t trip at all.
— Alvin Wang Graylin (@AGraylin) March 28, 2018
One problem I had with the Vive Focus while traveling was how I could see myself drifting away in the virtual world as the vehicle — be it a plane, a bus or a train — changed speed or direction, and at the time, HTC told me that it was already working on a solution. Well, this ended up being the new “Passenger Mode” that comes with the 2.0 update. Once toggled, the headset essentially switches off some of the trackers to avoid said issue, while still letting you enjoy a seated VR experience with 3DoF. Better yet, you also gain an extra hour of battery life on top of the original three this way.
Last but not least, this update lets you install VR apps onto the Vive Focus’ microSD card, meaning you’re no longer limited by the headset’s internal storage as you download more software.