Aug 3 update: Thanks to its dual screen design, the Surface Duo has the potential to run Android apps in a number o different environments; part of a single screen, filling a single screen, or spread over two screens (and these could be portrait or landscape).
As Microsoft prepares to launch the Surface Duo, the world is about to see Microsoft’s implementation of Android on one of its flagship devices.
Microsoft is both leveraging and shaping Android, so it should come as no surprise that it is using Android on one of its key Surface devices.
The Surface Duo breaks new ground for Microsoft, and by using Android, it does not have to reinvent the wheel.
This is not totally altruistic; after all there needs to be support for multi-screened devices across the Android platform, and the work on improving the Chromium web browser engine carries over to the Edge browser on mobile and desktop.
My personal smartphones all use Outlook as the primary email client, and I feel at home in Microsoft’s Android launcher (not least because I can back up my shortcuts, widgets, and layout to the cloud so I can have my favored layout on a new device.
The problem with that view is that Microsoft has already been working with Android for many years and the move to bringing out its own Android device is the next logical step.
The Surface Duo’s approach of having two separate screens connected by a 360 degree rotating hinge is a compromise, but it’s a compromise that potentially turns the Surface Duo away from a concept device showing technical prowess to a high-end workhorse for daily use.
As Scotland’s first podcaster, I continue to be a prominent voice in the rise of podcasting and new media online, and picked up a British Academy (BAFTA) nomination for my annual coverage of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, alongside contributions to Radio 5 Live, the BBC World Service, presenting Edinburgh local radio’s coverage of the General Election.
For instance, developers can use “helper class” to determine the state of the device, such as the hinge area, and Surface Duo can also detect when and whether the app is spanned across both screens to control within the app options.
First of all, the Surface Duo as a device is a pretty radical Android device.
Panos Panay and his team have worked hard since its introduction in October last year to prepare the ground for the Duo, but there is a certain inevitability that “this isn’t Windows, Android has won! ” will be heard.