There are some things our GO can not (yet) do as good as we would like. With a lot of Android apps and games working at least in 2D mode on the cinema screen it would be nice to have some easy ways of installing them. If you already looked into sideloading apps then you know that you will need a developer account to enable the developer options for the GO on the paired mobile phone. After this we are left with more than just ADB:
1. Sideloading using ADB... If you ever properly used it on your mobile or tablet before then you will be familiar with the required procedures. Just in case, here are the basics again. Connect the GO with the USB cable to the computer. Enable the developer options and allow USB debugging in the settings. Confirm that you authorise your computer on the GO - tick the box too to make it permanent. ADB devices should then show you what is connected and your GO should be listed. ADB install Filename.apk will install any compatible game or app. You will be prompted to allow unknown sources for your installation, please do as otherwise it won't work. If you need more detailed info just read a bit in the developer section on the Oculus servers - they have plenty of useful info there to get you started! In the XDA developers forum you will also find quite detailed guides on how to use ADB and what to do with it.
2. "Sideloading" the unoffial way.... Once you have your GO connected to the computer and ready for a ADB connection you can also switch it all to TCP mode, meaning you can do it all wireless! Just type ADB connect XXX.XXX.XXX.XXX - where the xxx stands for the IP address of the GO. The port 5555 should be addressed automatically by ADB in this case. From then on all you do with ADB will go over the WiFi and not over the USB cable anymore. And as said: Plenty of info on the Oculus websites and XDA to get you covered for all ADB needs. This of course goes for the required ADB drivers as well, which you can download from the developer sites.
3 Easy access sideloading... If you were really impatient then you already tried sideloading with ADB and although using Wifi is easy for this - it could be easier.. And of course you noticed that actually nothing is showing up anywhere. So how to start the app or game you just installed??? This question brings me to access rights 😉 Unless designed and signed for the GO it won't show up. And even if you created a GO app yourself and want to try it then it will only show in "unknown sources" in your library. Wouldn't it be great to find the things you installed so you can actually try if it works? Lets fix this issue in the next steps...
4. Alternative to the VR launcher... If it is not VR then you need a new launcher to make the things visible. Please download the RAR archive from Filefactory or Google Drive - it contains the Oculus GO ADB drivers, ADB and the apps I talks about a bit further down. And no, there won't be any virus, spyware or whatever included - I am not like that! Because I know there will always be someone asking something that can be found in all the ADB guides out there I will make the following steps as complete as I can:
5. Setting the computer and the GO up properly.... Please follow this one by one if if you have not set up ADB properly already. I just assume you created the developer account and already activated USB debugging for the GO, if not then please do so now. Unpack the RAR archive from the previous step to your computer - please create a folder in a location that suits you and where you can find the stuff with the Windows Explorer. Just to be sure, reboot your GO and then connect it with the USB cable to the computer. The corresponding drivers should be installed automatically, if not please please use the ones provided in the folder that you just created for the archive. On the GO you will be asked to allow the connection to your computer, tick the box and allow it. For those prefering a GUI there is Simple-ADB.jar - a Java executable that provides a graphical interface for ADB. However, I will list the manual steps here! Hold the Shift key and do a right click on the folder containing the ADB files. In the context menu select "Open command prompt here". A DOS window will pop up and we use this for a while now 😉 Inside this DOS window: Type ADB devices and hit enter. I will from now on just list the commands and assume you know that you need to press Enter to make them work 😉 A short message about the deamon starting should come up and then your GO should be listed as a connected device. If the deamon starts but nothing else happens and no GO shows up please confirm the drivers are installed and that you allowed the connection to your computer on the headset. Assuming all is fine: ADB install AppStarter-v4.0.apk - this will give us a nice launcher in "unknows sources" in the library. This launcher will be the base for all non VR things you do and install. You will get a message on the headset informing you that need to trust unknown sources to continue - please do if it happens. ADB install oculustvlauncher.appstarter.apk - this will utilise the previous app to give us a nice cinema screen where we can see and select all of our non-VR apps and games. This will be the actual launcher you see in the unknown sources in text form. ADB install ApkInstaller_8.6-46.apk - this brings you a nice app manager for all the apps, not just those you installed, please read the warnings below!! ADB install com.dragons.aurora_210020005.apk - this is the Aurora store, an alternative to the Google Playstore with its content, again, read the warnings below!!
The "secret way" of installing apps the easy way: Having all the tools on the GO you can now also use a USB stick or SD card reader to transfer files - even better with a file manager on the GO. The APK installer can access the USB OTG device and lets you install directly from there. No hassles with ADB anymore, just download what you need on the computer and use a stick to get it onto the GO - how easy is that? 😉 Same for watching movies: Just copy them onto your stick or SD card, use an OTG adapter and enjoy. Sadly most players so far won't show you the OTG drive, some do but any filemanager does for sure. So if you can't find a player that supports the OTG then just use a filemanager and start the video from there - the prefered player should start automatically.
Words of wisdom and some warnings to consider! What we have done now is installing some apps that make life easier. From now on you can just use the Aurora store or the APK installer to install what you need. Although you still need a half decent filemanager for the real fun, I prefer FX here but thats totally up to you. Please head over to XDA to read up on the Aurora store as not everything works a 100%. You can use the credentials Aurora provides or your own Google login details to download the files from the official Google store. Both have drawbacks. Aurora crendentials not always work and you won't get an install button if the download actually finnished. Using your Google credentials might mean your account could be banned as you do not use any offical way to get the files. If you use paid apps then it will be like any transaction in the normal playstore, so it costs your money the same way as if you get it on an official Google device. If in doubt use APK mirror to download the free apps you need directly on your computer. The APK installer is a powerful tool and you can do a lot of damage with it. Do not activate the system apps and do not start any app you don't know what it is for!!! And no matter what: Only uninstall things that YOU installed manually - do not unistall anything you got through the Oculus store. The same goes for the launcher of course. There is a lot that shows up and that you can click on, don't get tempted! Stick to what you know and installed through aDB or in the "secret way"!
Filemanagers and OTG.... If you use an app or filemanager that has Android rights to access external storage then a pop up will appear on the headset telling you that you need to manually allow access to that drive. In order to do so you must select "Recent" in the following screen and then select the connected drive from the drop down list - as the root of said drive and not some folder on it. After this you have read only access to the connected drive. I am working on finding ways to provide at least one writeable folder too but this might take some time.
Wow, very detailed tutorial! Thanks for that. I am glad it taught me how to use adb, but after some searching I came across a free sideloader tool that makes sideloading super easy (drag & drop) and does not require the command line at all: https://headjack.io/tutorial/sideload-install-app-apk-oculus-go/#tool
It even has an uninstall function and at every step of the process some tips are shown in the app. Very neat!