Good luck getting Microsoft’s ugly Christmas sweater for 2023 – it stars Windows XP and is almost sold out already

Microsoft has revealed its ugly sweater for this year’s holiday season – and it’s going to be a real crowd-pleaser for fans of Windows XP.

And there are plenty of folks who regard this operating system as one of the best versions of Windows ever – after all, it’s the operating system that refused to die – so it turns out there’s been quite some demand for the sweater.

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The cotton garment (well, 55% cotton, 45% acrylic) shows a stylized version of the Bliss (default) wallpaper for Windows XP, and it’s labeled as ‘Merry Blissmas’ in the product listing.

The design features the iconic fluffy clouds in a blue sky, with a green landscape underneath, and the addition of an oversized mouse cursor (you wouldn’t want anyone to miss the point of the sweater, now, would you?).

It’s yours via the Xbox Gear Shop for $ 70 (£56 in the UK, and around AU$ 105).

The sweater can be shipped internationally, across the globe, but if you want the bad news, it’s already sold out in the most common sizes.

Small, medium, large, and extra-large have all gone, with only the 2XL and 3XL sizes remaining. You can still request a notification for one of the sizes that’s currently out of stock, mind, so Microsoft will let you know when (or if) more inventory comes in.

Microsoft advises: “Machine wash cold, tumble dry low, and never take off.”

As an added bonus, some of the money goes to charity – namely The Nature Conservancy, which aims to protect our environment and combat climate change.

Windows XP Sweater

(Image credit: Microsoft)

Analysis: Do sweat it

Microsoft’s holiday sweaters have become pretty famous at this point. In the past we’ve had the likes of Clippy last year (maybe a retired Copilot could be on a future sweater, though Microsoft better hope not, with the amount of eggs it has in that particular basket), and a Windows 95 sweater.

Indeed, there was a Windows XP sweater back in 2019 (which was also available in 2020, when Microsoft resurrected some past designs), covered with the ‘XP’ logo, but this take is a bit more subtle – aside from the stupidly supersized mouse pointer, anyway.

If there’s one point of criticism here, it’s that Microsoft should be making more of these garments. They’re clearly popular sweaters, and to be sold out of most sizes already is obviously going to be disappointing for those keen to get a slice of ‘bliss’ for the festive period.

We’re still waiting for the BSoD, frankly (that's the 'Blue Sweater of Death').

Via Tom’s Hardware

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There’s not long left to bag the best Oculus Quest 2 deals of 2023

Black Friday has been and gone but the best Oculus Quest 2 deals of the year are still available, only now they’re part of 2023’s Cyber Monday deals. If you’re looking to pick up a VR headset for yourself or as a gift for someone, this is your last chance to score a massive saving on Meta’s best budget gadget.

In the US the best Quest 2 discount is at Amazon – you can now get Meta's Oculus Quest 2 plus $ 50 Amazon credit for $ 249 with code META50. This saves you $ 100 off the total cost of these items. Meanwhile, in the UK your best option is at Very. You'll get £50 off and £50 cashback with code VKEXL. Once your payment of £249.99 has gone through you should get a refund of £50 (provided you used the code), making the headset effectively £100 off, which is an excellent saving.

We’ve already seen some amazing Oculus Quest 2 deals sell out this Black Friday season, so if you’re reading this I recommend acting fast. There are some other solid discounts out there, but nothing beats these two offers in the US or UK.

The best Cyber Monday Oculus Quest 2 deals

Oculus Quest 2 + Amazon credit: was $ 349.99 now $ 249.00 at Amazon
Use code META50
– Buy Meta’s Oculus Quest 2 at Amazon right now and you can get $ 50 Amazon credit for free with code META50 at checkout. This great has sold out once already this Black Friday season, so act fast.View Deal

Meta Quest 2 (128GB): was £299 now £199 at Very
Use code VKEXL
– Very’s Black Friday deal on Meta’s Oculus Quest 2 might be better than Amazon’s in the UK. Using code VKEXL at checkout will get you £50 back on your order, effectively making Meta’s VR headset £199. You will still pay £249 at first, but you should then get your £50 cashback after your purchase, as long as you use the code.

The Oculus Quest 2 is a solid VR gadget but honestly, I think you should get a Meta Quest 3 for Black Friday and Cyber Monday instead.

There are reasons to get an Oculus Quest 2. If your budget is tight, you’re not sure you’ll use VR much, or if it’s a gift for someone who’s rough with their toys. But I believe that the majority of people should opt for the Meta Quest 3.

Yes, the Quest 3 is roughly twice as expensive, and it’s not discounted at all for Cyber Monday, but it’s just so good –  that’s why it got five stars in our Meta Quest 3 review. The graphics are a lot better, the comfort is slightly improved, and the Quest 3’s mixed-reality features are delightful.

Plus if you do buy one soon, you’ll get a free copy of Asgard’s Wrath 2, which is set to launch in December.

Meta Quest 3: $ 499 & get a free game at Amazon
The Meta Quest 3 isn’t discounted for Cyber Monday as it’s so new, but you can get a free digital copy of Asgard’s Wrath 2 when it launches later this year. If you’d rather not shop at Amazon the same offer is available from Walmart, Best Buy, and Target as well as others. View Deal

Meta Quest 3: £479.99 & get a free game at Amazon
The Meta Quest 3 only just launched so it was extremely unlikely it would see a discount for Cyber Monday. There is still a deal on though; if you order the headset before January 27, 2024, and activate it before February 9, 2024, you’ll get Asgard’s Wrath 2 for free when the game releases.
If you’d rather shop elsewhere the same deal is available at Very, Currys, and Game among others. View Deal

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11 new AI projects announced at Adobe MAX 2023 – here’s why they could change everything

Adobe is currently holding its MAX 2023 event showing off what it has in store for the next year or so. One of the focal points of the conference was a series of 11 “Projects” that have the potential to become “important elements” of Adobe products in the future.

Recently, the company provided a sneak peek at one of these elements called Project Stardust, which has the ability to separate objects in a photograph into individual layers for easy editing. Users will have the ability to move objects around or delete them. From there, you can have a generative AI create something to take its place. The other 10 perform similarly as they harness AI technology to power their robust editing and creative capabilities. The group is split into three main categories. 


Alongside Stardust in the Photos category, you have Project See Through, a tool that removes reflections in a photograph. Adobe states that glass reflections can be really annoying since they can obscure subjects. Instead of having to go through a multi-step process of editing the image on Photoshop, See Through does it all for you quickly.

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Adobe Project Through before

(Image credit: Adobe)
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Adobe Project See Through after

(Image credit: Adobe)

Video & Audio

Similar to how Stardust can remove objects in images, Project Fast Fill can remove them in videos thanks to the company’s Generative Fill tech. It can also add or change content via “Firefly-powered text prompts.” In the example shown to us, Fast Fill can add a tie to a man whose suit doesn't have or alter latte art in a cup of coffee from a heart to a flower. 

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Next, Project Res Up can bump up the resolution of a clip via diffusion-based upsampling technology. Scene Change is third and it can swap out the background of a video from, say, an office building to a jungle. For audio, there’s Project Dub Dub Dub, a software tool claimed to be able to translate speech from one language to another “while preserving the voice of the original speaker”. 

3D & Design

For the last category, these five are all about helping users create – even if they’re not the best artist. 

Project Draw & Delight can turn your doodle into a polished drawing utilizing a text prompt to guide it. Glyph Ease “makes customized lettering more accessible” by instantly applying specific design elements to a word in Illustrator. All you have to do is provide a rough outline of what you want the AI to add.

Image 1 of 2

Project Draw & Delight before

(Image credit: Adobe)
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Project Draw & Delight after

(Image credit: Adobe)

The trio of 3D imaging software is more situational, but still impressive nonetheless.

Project Poseable’s AI can morph a 3D model to match “poses from photos of real people.” So if you upload a picture of someone striking a karate pose, the model will do the same. Project Primrose lets artists quickly alter the texture of a rendered piece of clothing. And finally, we have Neo which aids creators in creating 3D objects using  “2D tools and methods.

To reiterate what we said earlier, these projects are prototypes at the time of this writing. There’s no guarantee any of these will become a new feature in Photoshop or any other Adobe product. However, there are some we believe have the potential for an eventual release. 

Stardust, Res Up, as well as Draw & Delight, appear to be the most “complete”. There aren't as many visible flaws as with some of the others. Certain projects require more time in the oven in our opinion. For example, the voice from Dub Dub Dub sounds really stilted and robotic. It's not natural.

Be sure to check out TechRadar’s list of the best AI art generators of the year if you’re looking for ways to bolster content generation. 

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9 things announced at the Meta Connect 2023 event

Meta’s Connect developer conferences have been fairly humble these past couple of years as the company shifted to online events due to the pandemic. But for 2023, the tech giant returned to an in-person event and took some big swings.

During the keynote, we received a ton of new information regarding the Meta Quest 3 VR headset, Meta's generative AI projects, and the next generation of Ray-Ban smart glasses.

The star of the show was undoubtedly the Quest 3. It features improved hardware running on the Snapdragon XR2 Gen 2 SoC (system on a chip), an in-depth mapping upgrade, and greater support for video games. The reveal was certainly impressive. However as the conference went on, it felt like the spotlight shifted to all the AI announcements.

We’ve known some of the AI models Meta has been developing for a while now, like its revamped chatbot to take on GPT-4. But as it turns out there was a lot more going on behind the scenes as the company showed off a slew of AI features coming to its messaging apps. 

There is a lot to cover, so if you want to know about a specific topic, you can use the jump links at the top to head over to a particular section. Or you can read the whole thing as it happened.

Virtual Reality

1. Meta Quest 3

Meta Connect 2023

(Image credit: Meta)
  • $ 499.99
  • Available for pre-order
  • Launches October 10

We finally get a look at the Meta Quest 3 VR headset after months of leaks. Compared to the Quest 2, this new model is 40 percent thinner thanks to the pancake lenses allowing for a slimmer design, according to company CEO Mark Zuckerberg. Each lens is able to output 4K resolution (2,064 x 2,208 pixels) per eye for the highest quality possible. The speakers are getting an upgrade too. They now have a “40 percent louder volume range than Meta Quest 2”. 

All this will be powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon XR2 Gen 2 chipset mentioned earlier, which is said to be capable of twice “the graphical performance.”

Also, the headset is paired up with two Touch Plus Controllers now boasting better haptic feedback for more immersive gaming. The Quest 3 is currently available for pre-order on Meta’s official website. Prices start at $ 499.99 for the 128GB model while the 512GB headset is $ 649.99. It ships out on October 10.

2. Better gaming

Xbox Game Pass on Quest 3

(Image credit: Meta)
  • Xbox Cloud Gaming coming in December
  • No longer need a PC
  • Some titles will be in mixed reality

A large portion of Zuckerberg’s presentation was dedicated to gaming as Meta wants gamers to adopt its headset for a fresh, new experience. To enable this, Xbox Cloud Gaming will be accessible on the Quest 3 this December. This means you can play Halo Infinite or Minecraft on an immersive virtual screen. And the best part is you no longer need to connect to a gaming PC to run your favorite titles. Thanks to the Snapdragon chip, the headset is now powerful enough to run the latest games.

For greater interactivity, some titles like BAM! can be played on a table in your house through a mixed reality environment. The Quest 3 will display the board game in front of you while you still see the room around you. 

3. Immersive environments

A person playing with VR Lego while wearing the Meta Quest 3

(Image credit: Meta)
  • Will automatically map your room
  • Virtual objects appear
  • Can switch between immersive and blended spaces

Mixed reality is made possible due to the Quest 3’s “full-color passthrough capability and a depth sensor”. The device will scan a room, taking note of the objects in it in order to set up a mixed-reality space. This is all done automatically, by the way. Through this, virtual objects will appear in your house. 

Besides video games, the mixed reality spaces can be used to establish your own immersive workout or meditation area. For basketball or MMA fans, you can get ring-side seats where you can watch your favorite teams or fighters duke it out as if you’re there. Double-tapping the headset on the side changes the view from an immersive perspective to a wide-angle shot where you can see everything.

Generative AI

4. Meta AI assistant

Ray-Ban Meta Smart Glasses

(Image credit: Meta)
  • Powered by Bing Chat
  • Will be available on WhatsApp, Instagram, and more
  • Can access the internet

Mark Zuckerberg revealed Meta has entered a partnership with Microsoft allowing the former to use Bing Chat as the basis for their new in-app assistant called Meta AI. It works in much the same way. You can ask quick questions or engage with it in some light conversation.

What’s interesting is it’ll be available on Facebook, Instagram, Messenger, and WhatsApp. It will have access to the internet for displaying real-time information. Enabling this can backfire as it may cause the AI to hallucinate or come up with false information. To combat this, Meta states it carefully trained its AI to stay accurate.

It’s unknown when the assistant will launch officially; although we did ask. We should mention it will be available in beta on the upcoming second-generation Ray-Ban smart glasses which launches in October.

5. Multiple personalities

Snoop Dogg Dungeon Master

(Image credit: Meta)
  • AI Assistant can have a persona
  • These persona can offer specific advice
  • Or be a source of entertainment

It seems Meta AI will have split personalities as it'll be possible to have it emulate a certain persona. Each one is based on a famous public figure. For example, Victor the fitness coach is based on basketball star Dwayne Wade. Seemingly, each persona will appear with a video of the celebrities in the corner. The video is connected to the AI and will emote according to the text. 

The personas do get a little wacky. Rapper Snoop Dogg gave his likeness to be the Dungeon Master model guiding people through a choose-your-own-adventure text game. Others have a more practical use like the chef AI giving cooking advice.

6. Generating images

Meta generative AI

(Image credit: Meta)
  • Emu can generate high quality images
  • Can be accessed through Instagram and WhatsApp
  • Can generate stickers in three seconds

Emu, or Expressive Media Universe, is Meta’s new image generation engine. Like others of its kind, Emu is capable of pumping out high-quality images matching a specific text prompt. However, it will do so in five seconds flat – or so Mark Zuckerberg claims. What’s unique about this engine is it will power content generation on Meta’s other apps like Instagram and WhatsApp.

On the two platforms, Emu will allow users to create their own stickers for group chats in about three seconds. Generating images will require you to enter a forward slash and then a prompt such as “/image a sailboat with infinite sails.” This technology is being used on Instagram to generate unique backgrounds and new filters.

7. AI Studio

Meta Connect 2023

(Image credit: Meta)
  • User will be able to make their own AI
  • Sandbox kit will it easy to create models
  • Sandbox launches next year

Meta is opening the door for people to come in and make their AI via the AI Studio platform. Within the coming weeks, developers can get their hands on a new API that they can use to build their very own artificial personality. Non-programmers will get the opportunity to do the same through a company-provided sandbox. However, it’ll be a while until it sees the light of day as it won’t roll out until early 2024. 

The tech giant explains that with this tech you can create your own NPCs (non-player characters) for Horizon Worlds.

Smart glasses

8. Next-gen Ray-Bans

RayBan Meta Smart Glasses jumping out of their case

(Image credit: Meta)
  • $ 299
  • Available in 15 countries
  • Launches October 17

Near the end of his presentation, Mark Zuckerberg announced the next generation of Ray-Ban smart glasses now sporting better visual quality, better audio, and more lightweight body. On the corners of the frames will be two 12MP ultra wide camera lenses capable of recording 1080p video. It has 32GB of storage allowing you to store over 100 videos or 500 photos, according to Meta. 

What’s more is it comes with a snazzy-looking leather charging case similar to the kind you get with a normal pair of Ray-Bans. With the case, the Ray-Ban smart glasses can last up to 36 hours on a single charge.

It’s currently available for pre-order for $ 299 in either Wayfarer brown or Headliner black. It launches October 17 in 15 countries, “include the US, Canada, Australia, and throughout Europe.” 

9. Livestreaming

Ray-Ban Meta Smart Glasses

(Image credit: Meta)
  • Can connect to Instagram for livestreaming
  • Touch control activate certain features

Meta is giving its next-gen smart glasses the ability to livestream directly on Instagram and Facebook. In the demonstration, a new glasses icon will appear on the app’s video recording section. Turning on the icon and double-tapping the side of the glasses will connect the device to the app so viewers can see what you’re seeing. 

Additionally, tapping and holding the side of the frame lets you hear the latest comments out loud through their internal speakers. That way, streamers can stay in touch with their community.

This feature will be available when the updated Ray-Bans launch next month.

And that’s pretty much the entire event. As you can see, it was stacked. If you want to know more, be sure to check out TechRadar’s hands-on review of the Ray-Ban smart glasses.  

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Meta Connect 2023 live blog: Meta Quest 3, VR and AI announcements

Welcome to the TechRadar live blog for Meta Connect 2023. We'll be keeping you updated with everything that’s announced at this year’s Meta event as it happens, as well as giving you our expert thoughts on all the hardware and software that’s announced.

This year we know the headline item will be the Meta Quest 3, a new VR headset set to replace the Oculus Quest 2 (the most popular VR headset ever made). Meta has called the Quest 3 its “most powerful headset” yet, but beyond this, its price and that it’ll have full-color mixed reality like the Meta Quest Pro there’s a lot we still don’t know – chiefly when it will release.

Alongside the Quest 3, Meta will likely show off other VR and AR tech it's working on (though expect a lot of the stuff to still be in fairly early development stages, based on previous years’ keynotes), as well as AI advancements it's developing. 

Meta Connect 2023 is here! I'm Hamish and I'll be with you for the next hour or so as Meta takes us through all of its VR and AI announcements. The biggest of which will be the Meta Quest 3 VR headset.

I'm super excited to see this new device, especially its mixed reality capabilities, as this seems to be a major focus for Meta. The Meta Quest Pro left a lot to be desired in this department, though, so the Quest 3 needs to be a big improvement if it wants to convince us that mixed reality is the future of XR tech.

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How to watch Meta Connect 2023: tune in for the Meta Quest 3, AI updates, and more

Meta is due to host Meta Connect 2023, its annual hardware and software event, live from its headquarters in Menlo Park, California on September 27-28. The event's keynote kicks off on September 27 at 10am PT / 1pm ET / 6pm BST, or 3am AEST on September 28 for Australia.

The highlight of this year’s two-day showcase will be the official unveiling of the Meta Quest 3 headset, and we also anticipate a host of announcements around the company’s various AI and software developments.

Meta Quest 3 with the front face and parts exploding upwards

(Image credit: Meta )

Meta Connect 2023 will be the company’s first in-person showcase since the pandemic, with most of the big announcements likely to happen during that keynote presented by CEO Mark Zuckerberg. This will be followed by the Developer State of the Union presentation, which will feature the latest updates from Reality Labs for developers working on software for Meta's XR ecosystem

The Meta Quest 3's full unveiling will follow a brief teaser at last year’s Connect 2022, which was followed by an announcement from Mark Zuckerberg on Facebook and Instagram in June. This major hardware reveal aside, it seems as though the 2023 event will largely focus on software innovation, including details of enhancements coming to Meta’s hardware as well as its expanding developments in AI and the Metaverse. 

You’ll be able to follow the pre-show news, and all the big announcements as they happen, at our Meta Connect live blog – here's everything you need to know to get prepped.  

How to watch Meta Connect 2023

Meta Connect's keynote kicks off 10am PT / 1pm ET / 6pm BST on Wednesday September 27, which is 3am AEST on Thursday September 28 for Australia.

You can watch the event through Meta’s livestream on Facebook or, alternatively, you can sign up to attend Meta Connect 2023 virtually and receive news and updates directly to your inbox.

If you already have a Meta Quest headset, you can also watch the event inside the Horizon Worlds app, with the keynote being streamed in 3D.

A laptop screen on a blue background showing the Meta Connect 2023 homescreen

(Image credit: Meta)

We’ll be live-blogging the event, so you’ll also be able to follow the pre-show news, and all the big announcements as they happen, with us. 

What to expect at Meta Connect 2023

We already know that the hardware highlight of Meta Connect 2023 is likely to be the official unveiling of the Meta Quest 3, the VR headset that’s the successor to the Meta Quest 2.

While this announcement is confirmed, we don’t have many details about the Quest 3, and what upgrades it will bring over the current model – but we do have some thoughts on what we’d like to see. We also don’t know if new software will be announced to support what we expect will be the Quest 3’s improved specs, although we expect new VR games and software will be released that take advantage of the Quest 3’s enhanced performance.

Meta Quest 3 floating next to its two controllers, they're all facing towards us, and are clad in white plastic

(Image credit: Meta )

In the last two years, Meta has revealed that it's been working on developing AR (augmented reality) tech, although it’s yet to announce a dedicated AR device. This year’s Connect might be when that changes, and it's likely that we’ll get an announcement about some type of augmented reality hardware. We imagine that augmented reality glasses are next on Meta’s to-do list, although Meta hasn’t confirmed this, and we’ve seen little in the way of rumors about possible specs and features.

Microsoft 365 app logos including Teams, Word and Outlook surrounding the CoPilot hexagon

Maybe the AI Copilot will come to Quest as well (Image credit: Microsoft/GTS)

Meta’s innovative approach to improving software is another area where we expect some headline-grabbing announcements, starting with a long-awaited partnership with Microsoft. We could see Microsoft Office programs like Excel and Word optimized for the Quest hardware platform, with the two companies having announced the collaboration at Connect 2022.

In light of Microsoft Office coming to VR, it was hinted at last year’s Connect 2022 that Xbox gaming would be integrated into virtual reality through Meta, but this is only a possibility right now given the lack of details.

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Meta Connect 2023: 4 things we expect to see at the Meta Quest 3 launch event

Meta has named the date for Meta Connect 2023 – September 27 – and we know that the highlight of the company's annual hardware and software showcase will be the full unveiling of the Meta Quest 3 headset.

Meta Connect is something of a mixed bag, in which we’ll not only find out about the new products that Meta is releasing in the near future, such as the Quest 3, but also its plans for stuff we might not get our hands on for the best part of a decade, if not longer.

Here are four announcements and updates that we expect to see at Meta Connect 2023 – as well as one announcement that we think Meta won’t be making.

More Meta Quest 3 details 

This isn’t much of a prediction, as Meta has confirmed that it'll be officially unveiling the Quest 3 during Meta Connect 2023. 

Meta Quest 3 floating next to its two controllers, they're all facing towards us, and are clad in white plastic

(Image credit: Meta )

We already know a fair amount about the Quest 3 – it’s a standalone VR headset that will succeed the Quest 2, it’s Meta’s “most powerful headset” yet, and it will start at $ 499 / £499 / AU$ 829. But we don’t have many specific details about its specs, release date, and what different Quest 3 models will offer – Meta’s “starts at” pricing suggests that more expensive upgraded versions of the Quest 3 will be available, and while we expect they’ll just be different storage options (as was the case with the Quest 2), we’ll have to see what Meta unveils.

We also don’t know if Meta will show off any new software to take advantage of the Quest 3’s specs. It may announce new VR games and apps that will take advantage of the Quest 3's improved performance over its predecessors, as well as mixed reality software that will be able to use the Quest 3’s improved color passthrough (the Quest Pro’s color-passthrough was okay but very grainy, and according to people in the know the Quest 3’s passthrough is significantly better).

Microsoft Office on Quest 

Speaking of Quest 3 software announcements, we hope that Meta and Microsoft will finally announce when native Office apps will be available on the Quest platform. During last year’s Meta Connect 2022 event, the companies announced that Office programs (like Word and Excel) were coming to the Quest headsets, but a year later they've yet to materialize – the only way to access them is via a virtual desktop app that’s synced with your real-world PC.

Microsoft 365 app logos including Teams, Word and Outlook surrounding the CoPilot hexagon

Maybe the AI Copilot will come to Quest as well (Image credit: Microsoft/GTS)

The companies also said that Xbox game streaming would be coming to VR, but since the announcement details have been scarce. Meta Connect 2023 would be the perfect time to finally give us a release date – and hopefully one that’s in 2023, as we’re tired of waiting.

Given that Apple is set to launch its Apple Vision Pro headset in early 2024, Meta only has a few months left to make its platform look as strong as possible before the new rival enters the space. This Apple headset will likely include VR versions of Apple’s catalog of productivity apps such as Pages and Keynote – so Meta would be smart to get Microsoft’s software onto its systems asap.

The metaverse and AI 

Horizon Worlds, Meta’s metaverse social media platform, usually gets a shout-out during Connect events, though the announcements are often a little lackluster – last year it was the news that avatars would be getting legs. And to make matters worse, we just hopped into Horizon Worlds, and as of August 14, 2023 our avatars are still legless…

Horizon Worlds doesn’t need legs; it needs reasons for people to use it. Meta has been steadily building up a catalog of VR experiences in the app and making various graphical improvements to it, but there’s still little reason to use Horizon Worlds over other VR software. Hopefully, at Connect 2023 Meta will finally give us a reason to try its metaverse out and not walk… sorry, bounce, away immediately.

smartphone screen with large shadow giving the feeling of floating on top of the background.

ChatGPT has stolen the metaverse’s thunder (Image credit: Diego Thomazini via Shutterstock)

One way Meta in which could try to reignite interest is to combine AI with the metaverse, and bring together two of tech’s biggest current subjects. Meta has been hard at work developing AI following the success of ChatGPT and other platforms, and it may want to harness those efforts to try and make its platform more appealing – perhaps by using AI to create bigger and better Horizon Worlds experiences, or to add NPC bots to make the service seem a bit more popular than it is.

With a smartphone version of Horizon Worlds also reportedly on the way for those who don't have a VR headset, some kind of AI integration could give more people a reason to try out the app.

AR hardware plans 

At Connect 2021 and 2022 Meta has mentioned augmented reality (AR) tech and shown off things it’s working on but it’s all been in-development tech and prototypes rather than something that we regular folks will ever get our hands on. We expect this might change at Meta Connect 2023.

Both the 2021 and 2022 events came with teases of hardware that would come in the following year; in 2021 this was Project Cambria (aka the Quest Pro) and in 2022 Meta teased a new consumer-friendly VR headset (the Quest 3). In 2023 we expect it’ll do the same but for AR hardware rather than VR.

model wearing facebook  Ray-Ban Stories smart glasses outdoors

Could Meta announce the Ray-Ban Stories 2 at Meta Connect? (Image credit: Facebook / Ray-Ban)

One big reason is that we don’t think Meta is ready to tease a new VR headset yet (more on that below), but even if it did we think an AR announcement makes more sense.

As we mentioned Meta has been publicly talking about its AR plans for some time – there are only so many times it kicks the ball down the road before we get tired of it teasing AR tech we can’t use. Additionally, with Apple preferring to use augmented reality when talking about its Vision Pro headset (rather than virtual reality), Meta may want to release its own AR tech to try and capture some of the renewed interest in the space that the Vision Pro has created.

If Meta does tease some kind of AR glasses, it’ll be interesting to see if they’re created in partnership with RayBan – like its Ray-Ban Stories glasses – or if they’re a completely Meta product. We’ll have to wait and see what happens on September 27.

No Meta Quest Pro 2 teaser 

If you’re hoping Meta will also tease a ‘Meta Quest Pro 2’ during the event, we wouldn’t recommend holding your breath. While this isn’t impossible, we feel Meta will keep its VR focus on the Quest 3 during the event (outside of showing us any prototypes for non-consumer products like it’s done in the past)

Our reasoning here is twofold. Firstly, teasing another VR headset just after the Quest 3 releases could put an instant dampener on any excitement people have for the new headset – it won’t get its time in the spotlight, which could hurt sales. 

Secondly, we don’t think Meta is ready to commit to launching a new VR headset in 2024 – which is when a Meta Quest Pro 2 teased at Meta Connect 2023 would arrive based on Meta’s usual tease-release cadence.

The Meta Quest Pro on its charging pad on a desk, in front of a window with the curtain closed

The Meta Quest Pro likely won’t get a sequel for a while (Image credit: Meta)

That’s because Meta reportedly recently canceled an in-development Quest headset prototype that leakers have said was the Quest Pro 2. While Meta has argued that the headset wasn’t the Quest Pro 2, and was instead an undesignated prototype, based on the leaks it sounds like this headset would have become the Pro 2 if development continued and it was given a proper name. No matter what the project was or wasn’t called Meta hasn’t argued it was canceled, and it will take time for Meta to develop a new prototype to replace it – suggesting the Quest Pro 2 is too far from ready to tease anything.

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A Song of Ice and Fire and Bowling: the VR games and apps I played in June 2023

This month I’ve used VR to become an action movie star in Pistol Whip, explore the new Polus Point map in Among Us, and entered a VR bowling tournament in ForeVR Bowl.

June has been a jam-packed month for VR – what with Apple announcing its brand new Apple Vision Pro at WWDC 2023 just days after Meta officially announced the Meta Quest 3. But when I’m not writing news and features about the hardware reveals, I’ve found time to enjoy several VR games and apps using my Oculus Quest 2 and Meta Quest Pro headsets, and I want to highlight three of them below.

For our picks of the all-time greatest VR games you can play right now check out our best VR games list, but read on to find out about the VR games and apps I’ve been playing in June 2023.

Among Us VR: Polus Point

Ahead of its release on July 27, I got to try out Polus Point the new map headed to Among Us VR for free for all players.

Polus is my favorite Among Us map, so I was initially disappointed to hear that Polus Point is merely a tribute to it rather than a complete remake in VR. Having tried the map out for myself though I’ve seen that it’s an excellent stage in its own right – while still honoring the original that I love.

Despite it being intimidating to newer players, I stand firm that Polus is Among Us' best map. Mira can feel a tad claustrophobic with lots of Crewmates running around, The Airship can feel too massive once a few players have been bumped off, and while I like Skeld it’s a bit too easy for people familiar with the map’s room and vent layout to sus out Impostors. 

Polus sits between these options; it’s big while not feeling overwhelmingly large, and its more complex layout allows players to take multiple different paths between the same points. This means that Crewmates can still have their suspicions about who might be responsible for a dead body, but Impostors can retain some plausible deniability over the route they traveled allowing them to potentially survive a few meetings even if they’re caught out.

Polus Point isn’t an exact replica of Polus but it retains its spirit. The sprawling map is something of a labyrinth, with a few branching paths to take you between different sections. This layout allows Impostors to get away with murders they might not on the Skeld 2 (Among Us VR's other stage).

The new Polus Point map also borrows the aesthetics of the original with Polus’ iconic decorations like the bridge to nowhere over a pool of lava, Crewmate snowmen (snow-beans?), and the docked Drop Ship. There are also new locales to explore too, like a crystal mine that features a new claw-machine-like visual task – meaning other players can watch you complete it and know you’re not an Impostor.

I had an absolute blast exploring Polus Point, and if you want to try it out early there’s a beta going on right now, from June 29, 1pm ET to July 3, 1pm ET (5pm GMT on June 29 / 3am on June 30 to 5pm GMT on July 3 / 3am on July 4)

To get involved Meta Quest players need to head to the Among Us VR game’s store page on a web browser and look at the Version section. In the dropdown menu change the version from Live to Beta and your game should update and take you to the new map – though you may need to uninstall and reinstall the game on your device to get this to work.

As for Steam players, you’ll want to right-click Among Us VR in your Library and select Properties. In the Betas tab change the dropdown menu option from None to Beta, and then boot up the game. If this doesn’t work you may need to exit Steam (close it completely rather than just minimize it) and then reopen Steam for the Among Us VR update to happen.

ForeVR Bowl

This month I was also invited to take part in a bowling tournament hosted by developer ForeVR Games, with its game ForeVR Bowl being the battleground for the event.

ForeVR Bowl feels like a bowling game made for everyone. Pros looking for an accurate bowling sim with realistic physics and different ball stats will appreciate the depth that the title can offer, while more casual players like myself can dial back the realism and enjoy an experience that’ll take you back to the good ol’ days of Wii Sports bowling, albeit with some solid upgrades. 

One of my favorite improvements is the game environments that have you bowling in more typical joints – like a 90s-era alley and a club that could have been ripped straight out of Brooklyn – as well as alleys deep under the sea and in space. Much like Walkabout Mini Golf’s courses, these are places you and your friends will want to hang out, and if you go exploring your crew might be able to find hidden ball designs dotted around each location to add to your collection.

My first-round match in the tournament was against UploadVR’s Henry Stockdale; a fellow Brit who has previously freelanced for a number of sites including this one to share his thoughts on VR and it was great to finally meet him in person (well, virtually).

The match started off close, but after a few balls I could see victory slipping away from me. I was doing well, but when I would leave some pins standing Henry would be able to score a few extra points, or even secure a spare or a strike.

I was trailing, and as I stepped up to take my fourth turn I was convinced that the first round of the competition would be my last. With it feeling like my back was against the wall I grabbed the virtual bowling ball, made a quick prayer to the bowling gods, then did what I do best – I lobbed the ball as hard as I could and hoped it would go well.

For what felt like an age I watched the ball roll its way to its destination, convinced that I’d only score another six points or so. It appears the bowling gods had other plans, as I saw every single pin tumble; I had earned my first strike.

Henry was still ahead, but the gap had shrunk, so with my newfound confidence I tried the tactic again, and again, and again getting two more strikes in a row. I only managed to win a spare in my 7th round, but that was fine – my burst of skill (read: luck) had helped me pull comfortably ahead of my competition. A few more good throws later and I had won, with 171 points to Henry’s 130. 

At the time of writing, I’m organizing my second-round match. Hopefully, I’ll be able to report next month that I’ve progressed further in the competition – maybe even madethe finals – but we’ll have to wait and see how well I do.

Pistol Whip

If you love action movies and wish you could star in one then you’ll love Pistol Whip. I regularly play Pistol Whip, and with it being one of the first two titles on Meta’s new Meta Quest Plus subscription this is the perfect time to write about it.

Pistol Whip is an on-rails shooter that has you race through levels armed with a firearm – there’s the classic single or dual-wielded pistol, but also a range of different weapons. You earn points by blasting the enemies that come your way, and you can earn bonus points by shooting your foes in time with the beat (like a well-choreographed fight scene in a film) and by pistol-whipping them (hitting them with your gun rather than shooting them).


♬ original sound – Hamish Hector

This title sounds fairly simple, but particularly on higher difficulties it can become an intense VR workout. You’ll have to contort your body a fair amount in order to dodge the rain of bullets that the baddies will be firing at you.

Each level has a unique music track, and there’s a huge range of stages inspired by different action movies. You’ll find classic Westerns and cyberpunk sci-fi stages, as well as levels that take clear inspiration from franchises like John Wick and Mad Max.

If you want to try out Pistol Whip you can pick it up for $ / £22.99 / AU$ or you can sign up for Meta’s Quest Plus service for $ 7.99 / £7.99 per month ($ 59.99 / £59.99 per year) and download it for free (Meta hasn’t released details yet about the service’s availability in Australia). Once it's downloaded you’ll have access to Pistol Whip until you stop paying for Quest Plus – unless you buy the game separately.

Not liking the look of anything on this list? Check out the VR games and apps I played in May 2023.

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