So what's in the new Windows Insider build? Bug fixes, an AR goof-around, and a font
Skip Aheaders get to play
Windows Insiders can now drag and drop 3D models into the "real world", as well as enjoy a healthy dose of bug fixes ahead of the fall Creator's Update release.
Build 16273 bug fixes include resolving an issue where Facebook status updates got erased during input in the Edge browser, icons couldn't be dragged and dropped around the desktop and the full touch keyboard was "unexpectedly not available" at some screen resolutions.
New features were a bit thin, with the biggest being Microsoft's OpenType Variable Font Bahnschrift, which promises to save space, and for Insiders on the "Skip Ahead" track, an update to Microsoft's standalone 3D object-viewing app, View 3D, to support a limited augmented reality experience.
Microsoft announced that the augmented-reality feature would be coming to Windows 10 back in May in an educational context.
The idea is that Insiders on the Skip Ahead track can download 3D content from Remix3D.com or create their own using Paint 3D. Then they can open up View 3D – which currently has about 1.5 out of 5 stars on the Windows Store – and use their vanilla webcam to see it projected onto the feed, similar to how the critters in Pokémon Go appear on smartphones.
"Great tracking together with the ability to capture high resolution images provides an engaging experience that encourages the ultimate in creativity," Microsoft promised.
To some, virtual and mixed reality may have been having a bit of an image problem finding a killer application that makes them seem more than just a cool gimmick, but there are plenty of efforts. Microsoft customers such as Pearson and Lifeliqe, for example, have been trialling Redmond's HoloLens nerd goggles in schools.
Martin Bukáček, who handles community engagement between schools and Lifeliqe's developers, told The Register that because View 3D is just using a distant RGB camera, the experience is much less immersive than what you'd experience strapping on a headset with additional sensors. Besides the physical distance to your device's screen, you wouldn't be able to fully interact with and manipulate the objects in View 3D, for example.
At the same time, "this can get mass scale" more quickly than experiences with virtual or mixed reality headsets because it doesn't require the same high price tag – you can use your existing devices (some schools have already been trying out limited augmented reality experiences in education, he says).
Apple has an augmented reality development kit for iOS 11 and there are lots of 3D content viewers that run on Windows (even Paint 3D allows viewing 3D models), but the idea here is that Microsoft wants to make it even easier to "spark brand new forms of expression", as it puts it in the blog post.
The post notes that "we are now at the point of the development cycle for the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update where our focus is now on stabilization for release to the world" so we might be seeing mostly bug fixes for a little while yet. ®