Microsoft doesn’t expect to ship its Surface Duo and Surface Neo before the 2020 holiday season, but it is already helping developers prepare software designed for two-screen use.
Both the Duo and the Neo will feature Microsoft’s foldable-screen technology that allows apps to expand to full width or run side-by-side on separate screens.
The Duo is a smartphone than can open up into an 8.3-inch tablet. Microsoft has demonstrated the phone running full-screen apps, running different apps alongside each other, and with one screen configured as the controller for a game running in the other. The Duo will run Google’s Android operating system, and Microsoft says it is intended to run apps from the Google Play store without modification.
The Neo is a larger version of the Duo that can be used as an ebook reader, a tablet, or a laptop. Like the Duo, the device is hinged to allow the display to fold down the middle. Unfolded, it works as a 13-inch tablet or, with the addition of a keyboard, a laptop display. Microsoft is preparing a version of Windows 10, currently named Windows 10X, to run on the device. Microsoft says Windows 10x developers can use Win32 and Universal Windows Platform APIs, meaning that no new programming tools are needed.
When it comes to tailoring apps to make the most of the new convertible devices and their unique capabilities, Microsoft recommends a new “common model” approach that overlays Android and Windows.
Although the new devices are intended to run existing apps, Microsoft hopes developers will use their imaginations to create new apps that take advantage of their unique form factors. The company says it will distribute advice, examples, source code, and APIs to help developers make the most of the mobile devices.
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