Socialising in virtual reality (VR) has become easier and easier as the years have gone by, with Mozilla dipping its toes in during 2018 with Hubs. Today, the company has announced an update that refreshes the experience with an all-new user interface.
Hubs has been streamlined to be easier and simpler to use whether you’re in VR or joining from a browser. For example, chat has been reworked so you can scroll back through messages if you need to catch up. Plus it’s no longer displayed over the room, having its own sidebar so you can view the entire room unobstructed. Should the chat panel be closed in the desktop version you’ll get quick text notifications.
Another important improvement is tailoring the experience to the individual platforms Mozilla Hubs supports. “In the past, our team took a design approach that kept the desktop, mobile, and virtual reality interfaces tightly coupled,” notes a blog post. “This often meant that the application’s interactions were tailored primarily to virtual reality devices, but in practice, the vast majority of Hubs users are visiting rooms on non-VR devices.” So now the interfaces for desktop and mobile have been separated to make any Hubs room more straight forward to navigate.
All the changes are now live so you can have a play unless you’re a Hubs Cloud customer. The company notes that: “we’re planning to release the UI changes after March 25th, 2021. If you’re running Hubs Cloud out of the box on AWS, no manual updates will be required. If you have a custom fork, you will need to pull the changes into your client manually.”
Whilst great news for Hubs users, it’s fortunate the service survived 2020. Those working at Mozilla last summer saw hundreds losing their jobs due to restructuring, especially on the VR side of things. This has meant products like Firefox Reality v12 aren’t likely to see any updates for the foreseeable future.
As Mozilla continues to support Hubs in the coming months including accessibility and localization updates in the new Hubs client, VRFocus will let you know.