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Android settings, user accounts, developer mode and more

DownunderGrumpy
Heroic Explorer

We don't really own our headsets and Meta does not make it easy to get a better access either.

If you want or need a bit more then first you need the developer options active, otherwise things like sideloading can be a total pain....
According to Meta you need to register as an organisation, add your account and verify it so you then finally activate the developer mode on the Quest.
Thing is that this Meta version only gives you marginal access at best....
And it won't fix the issue of having several 'hidden' apps on the headset either that you can't access.

But since you can only get ADB access after enabling USB debugging....
So yes, you still need to first jump through the loops and become a Meta developer, enable the developer option through the phone app and then we can get going.
Assuming most already did this and found it they won't get much:

Fist we go and install Sidequest on our PC, preferably the advanced version.
With that we can sideload a nifty app called Settings-Shortcut.
Available on Github: https://github.com/basti564/SettingsShortcut/releases/
This will show up at the bottom of your app library under 'Unknown Sources'.
Starting it will give you the normal Android settings instead of the crippled Meta version πŸ˜‰
First thing we want to do is to FULLY enable the developer options:
Go into the settings using the shortcut app.
Go down to 'ABOUT" and click on it.
Scroll down to Build Number and click on it until you are a developer πŸ˜‰
Go back and select "System".
A bit down you find the usual ANDROID Developer options.
In there you want to enable what most users do for their phones and tablets.
Like disabling automatic system updates - it can be benefical to wait a while before jumping onto a new firmware, like the new V60....
USB debugging and wireless debugging can be enabled as well - the later might need to be enabled every time you need it.
You can also change the default USB configuration to File Transfer - makes it a bit easier to copy things on and off the headset.

You CAN enable OEM Unlocking of the bootloader - but I strongly advise against it!
So please don't try as it might break some most vital things in return!

Handling multiple accounts on a device is easier as well with full access to the developer options.
And funny enough you will find you Meta, Oculus and other linked accounts in there as well....
You can even set up a new Admin or Owner account but again I advise against it as doing so means doing things outside Meta and that can break stuff and means you need a factory reset.
By sideloading an alternative launcher you can even find some hidden apps, like the Meta Support app....
You can do a lot of things - IF you know what you are doing and what you can change things without stuffing other things up - use at your own risk.

3 REPLIES 3

DownunderGrumpy
Heroic Explorer

What are those complete Android and Developer settings good for ?
If you have to ask it means you should not bother with them - seriously!

For those knowing what they do on other Android devices it means they can now do certain things one might actually need and that Meta makes it very hard to do.
Like those automatic system updates....
If you have sideloaded apps it often means things no longer work or not as expected - they call it bugs, we call it a firmware update broke our apps πŸ˜‰

Can we now finally root our headset ?
LoL - Of course not....
Being able to activate the OEM unlock won't mean the required Fastboot binaries will also magically appear on your headset.
Without Fastboot there is no rooting.
Like many other manufacturers Meta does not believe that a device owner should have the right to do with it what they want.
And since the security of a device starts with a secure bootloader it makes sense to restrict things.
Imagine you sideload a malware infested app that steals your account details or spies on you....
There IS ways to unlock the Quest, even the Quest 3 - but it won't work without the help of Meta.
Getting accepted into this 'inner circle' is next to impossible for users and very hard for legit developers.

Let's assume YOU think that with those fancy developer options now available YOU can unlock and root your headset:
I assume you used a grey market program to get around the Fastboot issues and to invoke Fastboot commands anyway.
All you have to do is check the few feasible options to unlock the bootloader and once you confirm start from scratch as it causes a factory reset.
IF you are lucky you can then start the phone app, pair the headset and start over to get happy.
But Meta randomly updates and changes the bootloader signature - for added device security, using 'ghost servers'.
Since Meta takes security serious it ends with the app finding it impossible to update the signature because it can't lock the bootloader and check it's integrity.
Needless to say that there is also a fair chance unlocking the bootloader will set a tamper flag that is hard or impossible to get rid of.
As all of this is also a violation of the T's & C's you agreed to Meta can simply ban you account, with that all you profiles, game progress and purchases made.
So in case I did not make myself clear here: Keep your hands of the unlocking switch !!!

DownunderGrumpy
Heroic Explorer

Why did Meta make it so hard for us ?
If you check the standard Android setting against the Meta ones you know the answer.
We work with an Android TV backbone modified for two screens in VR.
The 'UI' is our home environment....
Since not really much of this relates to a normal Android screen tampering with certain setting can have rather unexpected outcomes, some of which might require doing a factory reset.
The setting we have available by default are sufficient for all our 'normal' use requirements.
Most people will only ever use a tiny fraction of the available Android settings on their phones.
So those enabling developer options are not really average users.
You can install a ton of Android apps and games, and Android TV apps usually have no issue either, apart from only working in a window mode and with no way to change this.
Still a huge screen you can also resize to your liking give emulators for our old console favourites a whole new meaning.
Some apps and games of course won't work - it's a hit an miss like always with Android and apps for other versions and flavours.

Things are now a bit easier for certain users....
But Meta makes it rather hard to port normal Android apps and games into VR.
Intentionally I might add.
Many Android games already come with 3D features to provide a more realistic experience.
On you phone or tablet you have several ways to move through those environments, like the various viewing angles for racing games or how you can change from first person view to overhead and such.
A dirt basic Android emulator would only require matching the movements and camera to the headset and controller sensors/buttons.
And this code interception can be done on the fly....
On a more advanced level we would be able to turn the game environment into a 360 degree VR counterpart.
Maybe one day someone will provide a Unity plugin to do just that...
(we can dream....)

As you can see Meta does the right thing in some ways - after all they want to make money....

DownunderGrumpy
Heroic Explorer

Is there ANY REAL benefit for me by using those settings Meta does not want me to use ?

Apart from the usual for the pro-user I still have to check and hopefully confirm that SHARED USER SPACE can be properly enabled and used.
Right now, if you have guest accounts on your headset the guest(s) can't really download anything they recorded, like videos or screenshots - and that's just for starters.....
With multiple accounts on a device a shared user space allows all (enabled) users to access a folder on the headset.
Since only the owner can actually download files from the headset this shared folder means the device owner can download files for other users from this shared folder.
A big win if privacy is thing for you and you don't want to go the cloud route for all.
And if you don't have a media server but a bunch of nice movies for the kids you could just copy them into the shared folder without worrying the kids have to use your account and do things they should not do.

For me the main reason for going this route was to be able to turn off the automatic system updates.
I got stung badly a few times on all sorts of Android devices.
You have a bunch of apps you love to use or some old games you finally got working and then a firmware update breaks things for good - no way to downgrade....
In the Metaverse we already saw the same happening.
Discontinued or not longer updated apps or games suddenly stop working.
Android apps have MINIMUM system requirement but the maximum can be defined by the OS.
Like by preventing apps for an older OS version from starting.
In other cases they still start but since vital OS services are changed or missing the can't work and crash.
I hate nothing more than having great fun in a game to then having to wait a few weeks until the developer of the game can provide and update to 'fix' issues caused by the new firmware.
And finding out that apps and games are suddenly blacklisted by the OS is a real bummer, if it is 'just' the server addresses your game relies on.


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