We've used Microsoft's HoloLens to walk on Mars and play with robot birds, but we're finally starting to see how Microsoft's augmented reality headset can help you be more productive. Developers with early versions of the HoloLens headset can check out Microsoft's AR-friendly versions Outlook Mail and Calendar apps.
Users will be able to place inboxes and calendars on their walls, almost as if they were floating monitors. Emails and calendars update in real time while you focus on other work, presumably on your existing computer. Microsoft's screenshots show a few "themes" to decorate the apps with, which appear to be pop-up book-style holograms of locations like Seattle and Paris.
Having tried out HoloLens at this year's Build conference, I can't help but question these apps' utility. To start, the field of view on HoloLens is still limited, so you'll have to be looking directly where you pinned the Outlook and Calendar apps to see them. At that point, I might as well be using additional monitors, which would cost far less than the $3,000 development kit. There are still a lot of unanswered questions, primarily based on interactivity. How easy is it to respond to emails or set up new calendar appointments? Can you even do that in AR, or is it read only? Developers will see once they download the app from the Windows Store on their HoloLens.
The big plus here is that Microsoft is showing off the power of its Universal Windows Platform. The company says it's easy to move apps from Windows 10 on PCs to tablets, phones and now AR, so we may see a lot of HoloLens utilities pop up just because they're easy to make. Microsoft has already promised a version of Skype that will work on its headset.