Augmented reality promises many things, from turning your living room into a video game to transforming how we see and experience the world. But first, it has to do the basics, and no company knows this better than Microsoft. So today, the company announced the release of dedicated HoloLens AR apps for its Outlook email service and calendar. They look... well, like your standard email and calendar apps, just rendered using blasts of light on your retina.
Microsoft tried to spice the images up a bit with a holographic version of the Seattle skyline thrown in the mix. Otherwise, the apps look pretty much like recreations of their desktop counterparts. Notably, the images show the windows in a full field of view, while the real HoloLens has a more limited FOV. So it's unlikely you'd be able to see these apps in their entirety at a glance, unless there were a way to shrink the Outlook windows to fit a smaller surface and allow you to see the entire box.
There are, in fact, some pretty neat applications here. Microsoft says you can pin your email inbox or daily calendar schedule to the wall, so you can interact with it when you choose by looking over at the designated area. This allows you to "stay on top of emails while simultaneously interacting with other digital content in your real world," the company wrote in a press release. Because Outlook Mail and Calendar are universal windows apps, Microsoft's dev team was able to easily port them to the HoloLens because the device is running Windows 10.
While it's hard to imagine AR headsets being common in the workplace for quite some time, Microsoft is paving the path to make this type of software more practical and useful. As more developers see AR apps that are less spectacle and more productivity-focused, the HoloLens should become capable at doing more than showing off its own, albeit impressive, tech. Currently, the headset is only available for $3,000 to select developers who apply online at Microsoft's dedicated site. The first units started shipping in March, so we'll likely see an acceleration in the amount of new apps that take advantage of the HoloLens' unique capabilities.