It seems there really is now escaping Microsoft’s love for tiled-based app launchers, even in augmented reality. While the company did return the Start Menu in Windows 10, it wasn’t the same one we’ve all grown up with since Windows 95 all through Windows 7. That tile-based idiom has even invaded the Xbox interface and soon, even HoloLens. A leaked video for an AR app named Actiongram shows what Microsoft has in mind for an AR app launcher and, suffice it to say, it isn’t exactly a shock.
In fact, you could perhaps be more surprised that the “Start menu”, for lack of a formal name for the main menu of the HoloLens “Shell”, isn’t actually bigger, much like a fullscreen Start Screen ala Windows 8. On the one hand, smaller tiles might be a bit harder to target precisely, especially with an unconventional device like HoloLens. But on the other hand, you really wouldn’t want the menu to cover up your whole field of vision. Unlike virtual reality, AR’s magic works by actually including the real world in its scene, so you’d want to still have as much of real reality visible in augmented reality.
So smaller/medium sized tiles it is, with columns of apps somewhat reminiscent of the Windows 8/8.1 “All Apps” list. There doesn’t seem to be any Live Tiles involved.
The video also demonstrates the basic input controls of HoloLens. While the app being demoed is basically an AR movie-making app, the interactions are presumably the same for all other cases. Your glance acts as the mouse cursor to point to items, while an air tap is equivalent to a mouse click. In some cases, voice commands are also recognized and accepted. As can be seen from the video, it will need some getting used to.
Microsoft has never made it a secret that it intends Windows 10 to be the one OS that rules all them devices, from desktops to smartphones to consoles to headsets. This is the first, time, however, that we get a glimpse of what exactly that means as far as the user interface is concerned. It will definitely be an interesting break from all the VR craze happening now, but it won’t be until much later this year that we actually get to see more details about HoloLens.