SideloadVR will be shutting down... for now
Hello SideloadVR Developer,
first of all, I'd like to thank you for using SideloadVR as a way to let other people try your app!
I'm sending you this email to let you know that SideloadVR will be shutting down February 28th 2017.
SideloadVR has been an incredible successful project. I started SideloadVR when I was developing "Nighttime Terror" and created the build platform just for internal use.
Two years later, with 111 published apps and over 380.000 downloads from over 160.000 users, it clearly shows that there is a demand for an open platform for premium mobile VR experiences.
But now comes the sad part:
Recent updates to Oculus, Android and Samsung software have made it harder to run SideloadVR. As many of you might know, Samsung and many antivirus programs flag SideloadVR apks as malicious. This is not creating a inconvenience to the user, but also a considerably amount support emails for users that email me either looking for clarification, or outright accusing me of distributing malware.
Early last year I had to remove the auto-signature generation feature, since Oculus has made it harder to automate the process (I don't believe it was intentional, just part of their new website). The automatic setup also created lots of additional support emails from people claiming I had no right to ask for their Oculus password, some even threatening to report me for trying to phish their login details.
With Android 7 rolling out to devices soon, SideloadVR will also need some changes to work on those devices, however, I currently don't have time to work on it. Also, the server infrastructure is reaching its limit and a distributed approach with several CDNs per region would be more suitable for the demand.
I have plans for a new server infrastructure that is based on repositories, i.e. developers can host their own server if they want to. A new SideloadVR Android app will be able to download from several repositories or can be customized to be locked to a specific one (i.e. for access to private apps).
However, all these features need more work and time and won't be ready until the global Android 7 rollout. With all these reasons in mind, the best thing to do is to shut down SideloadVR.
This will give me time to work on a better, more robust version of SideloadVR without the need to put out fires along the way.
If you are looking for a way to distribute your app, I would recommend considering the official Oculus developer portal. You can add Oculus usernames to your build and have GearVR users access your apk that way. Also, try submitting your app. Even if your app does not get approved for the store, there is a good chance it will be approved for key access, meaning you can generate and distribute keys directly.
In case you don't want to host your apk on the Oculus servers, read ahead:
Running your own APK Signing webservice
If you are looking a way to distribute your app, you can bundle the SideloadVR standalone injector and instructions with your apk or use it a base to build your own web-based apk signer.
I am also releasing the SideloadVR server core under the GNU GPLv3.
A sample implementation is available on GitHub:
Funding & Donations
SideloadVR is a community supported project. For that reason I have denied any requests for outside funding or sponsorship other than small PayPal donations and Patreon to cover the server cost. When SideloadVR shuts down end of February, I will take down the Paypal and Patreon links. If you feel inclined to donate, please consider donating to a charity of your choice instead.
I would suggest the Electronic Frontier Foundation, but it is completely up to you.
I'd like to thank you again for being part of the amazing mobile VR community. If you like to follow my other projects, here is my Twitter.
Feel free to send me an email if you have any further questions.
Mark - www.mark-schramm.com