‘Apple Exploring 3D Desktop and Application Interfaces’ macrumors.com

Arnold Kim, writing at MacRumors in 2008:

Dozens of Apple patent applications were published today revealing research that Apple had done in 2007 on many topics encompassing future versions of Mac OS X. The most intriguing is a series of patent applications which describe a “Multidimensional” user interface. Apple has essentially been working on true 3D desktop environments.

Via Steve Troughton-Smith:

15 years later and Apple has finally created a fully-3D spatial operating system; not suggesting a direct link, but it’s fun to go back and see them trying to sound this stuff out right at the time iPhone was introduced

The patent describes several versions of this, all of which are fascinating. But what is most notable is how this is almost the inverse of what Apple seems to be trying to do with visionOS. This patent appears, to me, to show a simulation of a 3D environment within the two-dimensional desktop space of a typical computer display, and it leans hard into the depth component. Some of the drawings show a virtual stack of windows or files within the depth stylings of a Leopard-style Dock. Based on what I can see of visionOS and what has been described by those who have used it, it is much more like two-dimensional interfaces projected into three-dimensional space. It does not seem to be replicating the clutter of a physical desk in an immersive digital space; instead, it is bringing the massless pixel environment into the real world.