New HoloLens 2 Update Brings a Host of New Features
HoloLens 2 looks good after a slew of new improvements and feature which were unveiled recently. While the mixed reality headset is still a few years from going to mainstream to the consumer level, it is comforting to see that Microsoft and its developer network are doing the grunt work at this time and improving on the MR headset’s interaction models.
Microsoft has added some new improvements as well as two highlights into the Windows Insider version of its HoloLens 2 headset. Its latest build for the HoloLens 2 headset now includes the Chromium-based Microsoft Edge. Insiders will also be able to use both the new as well as the legacy version of Edge for some time. The latest build also brings support for swipe to type, a new Settings app as well as a host of new features.
The biggest innovation in the Insider Update (Build 20279.1006) for the HoloLens 2 headset is the integration of the new Microsoft Edge browser. The Chromium-based version already does very well on PC and brought Microsoft back in the browser game to compete with Chrome and Firefox. Now the HoloLens 2 Augmented Reality will also be able to start the browser with the mixed reality platform now using the Chromium-based Edge browser. The new Microsoft Edge browser has been built on the open-source Chromium project and it is already on Windows 10 as well as other major platforms. Insiders will now get the opportunity to test the Edge browser on HoloLens 2.
This Microsoft webpage that gives a breakdown of the latest Insider release also mentions that the new Microsoft Edge browser is also available for Insiders on the HoloLens 2 Augmented Reality Headset. However, the page doesn’t clarify whether users with the original HoloLens mixed reality headse can also use the new Edge browser.
The new version of the Edge browser for Microsoft HoloLens 2 will also support WebXR which is officially listed as “coming soon”, 360-degree content, Microsoft Teams in the browser, mixed reality recordings and screen sharing in the future. However, the HoloLens browser cannot print yet.
The new Microsoft Edge version is a native Win32 app and feature’s Microsoft’s new EWP adapter layer that allows it to run on devices such as the HoloLens 2. As a result, the browser doesn’t have certain features at the moment such as printing or spatial sound. According to Microsoft, the upcoming features include the following: –
- WebXR along with 360 Viewer extension
- Content restoration for correcting window when one is browsing across multiple windows placed in their environment.
- Ability to join a Microsoft Teams call via the browser using video, mixed reality capture or screen sharing (joining the calls with audio already works well)
Although this update along with the new edge gets the most attention, the other additions listed below are just as important. The new settings app, for example, has newer settings and features as compared to the legacy app such as USB-C support for external microphones, the option to pick default apps as well as a host of other features.
The HoloLens 2 Insider Update Also Brings Swipe Keyboard
Another fundamental improvement that comes with the Insider update is swipe-to-type which could prove quite convenient. Instead of a user typing every letter individually on the previous air keyboard, they can now simply swipe a line along the letters that should appear in a word. The system will then generate the word automatically.
This input variant has been available on smartphones for a long time and is particularly useful with the HoloLens 2 (Preview) which lacks the intuitive feel of a touchscreen or a real keyboard for typing. Wiping in the air is a lot easier than with touchscreen systems.
You can check out the new browser and the swipe keyboard function in action in the video below: –
#HoloLens 2 Swipe to type and more! 👋
In this this video I show the new @HoloLens 2 Windows Insider Preview which brings lots of new features like Chromium Edge, new Settings app AND Swipe to type! 🤩
— René Schulte (@rschu) January 15, 2021
Microsoft Welcomes user Feedback on the HoloLens 2 Insider Update
Microsoft also announced that it would like to hear user feedback on its experimental swipe feature in order to determine whether this feature should eventually become a full feature and as part of the final release.
The new Insider Build will also come with a host of other innovations. Microsoft will, for example, replace the Settings app with a new version including new settings and the USB-C port now supports eternal microphones for Remote Assist or apps. However, Bluetooth microphones aren’t running yet.
Below is a summary of the new features in build 20279. 1006:
- New Microsoft Edge: The Chromium-based new Microsoft Edge browser is now available for the HoloLens 2 Mixed Reality headset.
- New Settings app: The legacy Settings app has now been replaced with an updated version that has new features and settings.
- Office web app: A shortcut to the Office web app now appears as “All apps”
- Default app pick
- Swipe to type function: Using your finger tip, you can now “swipe” the words on the holographic keyboard.
- USB-C External Microphone Support: You can use the USB-C microphones for apps or the Remote Assist. 20279.1006
- Improved Kiosk Mode Failure Handling: The Kiosk mode now searches for Global Assigned Access before empty start menu
- New AUMIDS for new apps in the Kiosk Mode: There are new AUMIDS for the new Edge and Settings app
- Configure Fallback Diagnostics: Setting Fallback Diagnostic Behavior in Settings App