Meta Quest 3 mixed reality features — 5 things you can do right now

Meta Quest 3
(Image credit: Meta)

Meta Quest 3 finally launched at Meta Connect 2023 this week, and with it came our first serious look at Meta’s new VR headset.

Of course, this isn’t just a VR headset. The Quest 3 is actually a mixed reality headset, which allows you to drop augmented reality holographics into the physical world as well as play immersive VR games. And you can swap back and forth between these worlds digitally, all without taking your headset off.

Aside from the Apple Vision Pro, which won’t come out until early next year, we haven’t really seen anything like this before. So I went through everything we’ve learned about the Quest 3, including our early hands-on Meta Quest 3 review, and compiled a list of the five features you can experience in mixed reality once you get Meta's new headset. There’s even a bonus feature at the end that’s coming soon. 

Learn to piano in mixed reality 

Meta Quest 3

(Image credit: Meta)

One of the mixed reality features Meta showed off at Meta Connect was the ability to learn to play the piano in mixed reality. Whether you’re at your coffee table, at your desk at work or on the go, simply throw on the headset and you can start practicing. As a musician myself, I’m actually really looking forward to this one.

You may want to opt for some headphones too though. The Quest 3 speakers produce rich, immersive audio, and impressed me in my demo at Connect. But others around you might hear that rich immersive sound so either plug in a pair of headphones via the 3.5 mm headphone jack. Unfortunately, you cannot connect most wireless earbuds despite Bluetooth 5.2 support due to latency issues. Instead, you'd need to pick up earbuds like the Soundcore VR P10 wireless earbuds which use a USB-C dongle to ensure latency isn't an issue.

Switch realities with just a tap 

Meta Quest 3 hands-on demo in progress

(Image credit: Future)

When you put on the Quest 3, it starts out giving you the view of your surroundings thanks to the headset’s full-color video passthrough. But with a simple double-tap on the side of the headset, you can swap back and forth between the physical world around you and the virtual world.

Unfortunately, I didn’t get to test this feature in my time with the headset but will definitely be testing it for our full Quest 3 review. Additionally, while you can switch realities from the Home screen and some apps, other apps and games will keep you either in immersive virtual reality or mixed reality video passthrough. So don’t expect to be able to put Ezio in the physical world if you’re playing Assassin’s Creed Nexus.

Play games in mixed reality  

Lego Bricktales

(Image credit: Thunderfall Games)

Speaking of games, there are tons of Meta Quest 3 games thanks to its backward-compatibility with the Quest library, not to mention several upcoming new releases.

At Connect, I got to try a few of these and was largely impressed with what I saw. First Encounters is a fun shooter that has you capturing cute aliens before they overwhelm you. There’s also Lego Bricktales, which is a Lego puzzle game that operates on a floating adjustable tabletop. And for those who had the Meta Quest Pro, Demeo should be a familiar mixed reality game. It's a Dungeons and Dragons-like dungeon-crawling tabletop game that you can literally play on your table in mixed reality.

My only complaint? There are currently not enough mixed reality games that I’ve seen to convince me to pre-order the Quest 3. In fact, that's my biggest reason to skip buying the Quest 3 for now

Watch shows and movies in a mixed reality cinema 

XCloud on Meta Quest 3

(Image credit: Meta)

Your favorite shows and movies from the best streaming services can now appear larger than life in your room on a virtual screen thanks to Quest 3’s mixed reality. You can even drop a video screen right in your room. We saw this feature teased in the Apple Vision Pro announcement at WWDC, so it’s great to see that Meta is replicating it on a much more affordable headset.

And for console gamers, Xbox Cloud Gaming is coming in December. You won’t even need a console and TV anymore if you want to game in your living room — though you will need an Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscription. 

Quest 3 better understands your playspace 

Meta Quest 3 Smart Guardian

(Image credit: Lunayian/Twitter)

Quest 3’s updated boundary feature can automatically scan your space to determine your playspace boundary, which means you don’t need to do it manually. And it can automatically scan your room in 3D sot it understands where walls, floors, furniture, etc. are so that games and apps can seamlessly interact with your playspace. 

Admittedly, this feature didn’t go great for me in my demo. But, in our early hands-on testing, my colleague Tony Polanco seemed to have a better time with it, coming away impressed. I will need to fully test this feature in review, but I’m willing to give it a second chance.

Bonus: Microsoft Office coming next year

For those hoping to work in mixed reality, productivity apps are coming. The biggest headline? Microsoft Office apps should be coming to Meta Quest devices next year. We obviously haven’t gotten a chance to test this out, but it could be a big win for those who want to get some work done while wearing the Quest 3. 

Of course, the headset’s battery life is only 2 to 3 hours, so you can’t spend a whole work day there without plugging in. But ultimately, it’s still a nice feature to have in theory.

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Malcolm McMillan
Senior Streaming Writer

Malcolm McMillan is a senior writer for Tom's Guide, covering all the latest in streaming TV shows and movies. That means news, analysis, recommendations, reviews and more for just about anything you can watch, including sports! If it can be seen on a screen, he can write about it. Previously, Malcolm had been a staff writer for Tom's Guide for over a year, with a focus on artificial intelligence (AI), A/V tech and VR headsets.

Before writing for Tom's Guide, Malcolm worked as a fantasy football analyst writing for several sites and also had a brief stint working for Microsoft selling laptops, Xbox products and even the ill-fated Windows phone. He is passionate about video games and sports, though both cause him to yell at the TV frequently. He proudly sports many tattoos, including an Arsenal tattoo, in honor of the team that causes him to yell at the TV the most.

  • JacobP81
    Hello? Do you live on the same planet as me? "Aside from the Apple Vision Pro, which won’t come out until early next year, we haven’t really seen anything like this before." REALLY??!! Are you serious?! There was something Microsoft invented called the HoloLens. Does anyone remember that?! That did the same thing!