Meta's fake Quest VR ads aren't a great answer to the Vision Pro

Meta's latest advertisements for its Quest headsets show exaggerated AR features and fake screenshots.

Meta's fake Quest VR ads aren't a great answer to the Vision Pro
Credit: Meta

The Apple Vision Pro was released earlier this month as perhaps the best mixed reality productivity device to date, even with its problems. The main competition is the Quest VR headsets from Meta, the owner of Facebook and Instagram, and Meta's response to the Vision Pro has been fascinating to watch. I expected something like "we were here first and we're cheaper," but what I didn't expect was borderline false advertising.

First, the elephant in the room: the Meta Quest headsets and the Vision Pro are not really competitors. They're both virtual reality headsets with augmented reality features (Apple calls this "spatial computing"), they both have a web browser and a few shared applications, but the similarities end there. The Vision Pro is an ultra-premium $3,500+ headset with iPad-like software, more focused on productivity and media streaming than gaming. The Meta Quest 3 (the company's best headset) is a $500 device with an extensive game library, but with limited support for productivity apps, a more basic operating system, and lower-end hardware.

Even though the Vision Pro and Meta's Quest lineup don't have that much in common, they are the only standalone VR headsets in the general public consciousness right now, so the comparisons are inevitable. Meta CEO Mark Zuckerburg shared his own comparison on Instagram, pointing out some features that the Vision Pro does better (like a higher resolution screen), but concluding that the Quest 3 is "better for the vast majority of things people use mixed reality for." He did not confirm if he enjoyed some Sweet Baby Ray's while wearing either headset.

Zuckerburg saying he prefers the Quest 3 isn't surprising, but the more public-facing marketing is definitely fascinating. Meta has started publishing more videos showing how the Quest can display applications and games in a mixed reality environment—you know, like Apple's headset. There's a pretty clear "we can do it too" vibe with these videos.

A YouTube Short published on February 5 shows off "cooking & chilling in Quest 3," with creator DiscoVR making a sandwich while watching a YouTube video in the Quest web browser, then sitting down to eat while the window follows. There's nothing weird going on here, but it highlights one difference between the two headsets: you can "pin" windows to follow you around on the Vision Pro, but on the Quest, you have to drag the window along with you.

Meta published another Short on February 6, showing off "shopping in mixed reality." The person is wearing a Quest 3 in a grocery store while selecting peppers from a shelf. There are two windows open: a YouTube video and a grocery list. This person would have to grab the main window and drag it along as they walked through the store, which seems like a great way to accidentally bump into another person.

There's not a native to-do list app available on the Quest, as far as I know, so this ad is showing a screenshot of a list sent through Facebook Messenger. You can see "Messenger" in the window title. I thought checklists were for checking off items?

Meta released another video on February 10, showing a less-bizarre situation of using three side-by-side windows while sitting on a couch at home, using a mix of YouTube and Instagram. This is pretty normal mixed reality stuff, but it does further highlight that most non-gaming tasks on the Quest have to be done through the web browser, because there are so few non-gaming applications.

There is a native Instagram application in beta for the Quest, but I'm not sure if it allows multiple windows like in the video. Watching two videos at once while scrolling through an Instagram profile is also a little bit weird, but whatever.

There is one more video that was published on the Meta Quest VR account on Twitter/X, but seemingly not on YouTube. It was deleted from that account, but not before at least one person mirrored it (shoutout to @AlbertoMR3). The video depicts someone packing up for a trip, with yet another fake to-do list.

This time, the list is a screenshot of Google Keep opened from the files app. Not only is "File Viewer" visible on the window title, but when they pan over to reveal the next window, you can see the Downloads folder is open with the image inside. At least the grocery store video didn't show how they opened the fake list!

Meta's marketing teams are clearly struggling to prove its Quest headsets can compete with the Vision Pro in mixed reality. While the Vision Pro has automatically-following windows and real apps, the Quest has windows you have to drag along and fake to-do lists. I still can't get over the shopping lists. Google Keep works in the web browser, why did that need to be faked at all?

Meta CTO Andrew Bosworth recently mentioned that a "rework of the core UI infrastructure" is in development for the Quest headsets, which might be something closer to the Vision Pro's capabilities. I'm looking forward to that update on my Quest 2, and it might help the company's advertising people have something to show off that isn't a weird staged scenario with fake screenshots.