Edging ever closer: Surface Duo news links

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The Surface Duo (Surface Phone) has been a long time coming. A very long time, and will arrive with Android at its core and not Windows 10, after an OS change in 2018. But it's still of interest because of its innovative hinged form factor. True, its specs are going to arrive a little dated, but at least there's not much longer to wait. News reports and titbits linked below indicate that the Surface Duo should become available in the next month.

Duo with Google Maps

A little of the Surface Duo back story, as reported on AAWP:

So you're caught up, as it were. I've been running the latest Surface Duo emulator for months (it gets updated about every fortnight) and it seems to be pretty stable now, even if one can't quite get a feel for the dual screen device on a laptop display! Plus the emulator only has skeleton core applications. But I'll keep playing with this, and perhaps write it all up.

In the last week we've seen a number of relevant links and stories of note:

Talking of the Surface Duo emulator, here's Microsoft's latest announcement of the inclusion of Google's official dual-screen development APIs:

Today we’re excited to share the latest Surface Duo emulator preview. Since our last update, we’ve been busy incorporating feedback and adding new features:

  • Support for the Jetpack Window Manager preview

You can download the latest build for Windows, macOS, or Linux at the Microsoft Download Center. Additional setup instructions are included in the SDK documentation. We recommend that you uninstall the previous version before installing the updated build.

The Android Jetpack WindowManager addition has recently been updated by Google to support various new mobile form factors like foldable and dual screen devices. Microsoft welcomes these additions. These new AndroidX windowing concepts such as DeviceState and DisplayFeature allow Android application developers to create compelling user experiences for these unique form factors.

Droid-life has reported that the Surface Duo has just passed through the USA's FCC, a vital step before release for any handset over there:

There’s no guarantee because Microsoft tried their best to hide all identifying info, but it sure looks like the Surface Duo stopped through for all of its testing and certification glory. The FCC docs for a Microsoft “phablet device” under model number 1930 are filled with your typical stuff. We can see that the device supports LTE bands for all of the major US carriers, has Bluetooth, NFC, and 802.11ac WiFi.

Outside of that fun, I dove into most of the tests looking for a slip-up that showed an odd-shaped device or a label that revealed the Surface Duo officially. I almost struck out, until I ran into this:

Surface Duo FCC Fold

See what I’m referring to? The EUT or “equipment under test” was investigated with “both screens” used in four configurations, some of which involved being folded. The FCC actually folded, closed and opened at 90 degrees and 180 degrees, and laid it flat. Since this device isn’t a computer or laptop or notebook and is instead a “phablet” that has two screens, opens and closes, fold

And on the Bluetooth front, the Surface Duo has been added to the Bluetooth SIG's database:

Product NameProduct WebsiteProduct CategoryPublish DateArchive DateModel NumberSubset IDDescription 
Surface Duo https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/surface/devices/surface-duo Personal Computer 2020-07-24   Surface Model 1930  
Surface Duo is a new dual-screen device that fits in ...

Bluetooth certification, like the FCC approval, is all part of checking that the device is safe for use and you'll end up seeing the appropriate logos on the Surface Duo retail box in due course. SIG approval normally indicates imminent availablity, so from this alone I'm assuming the Surface Duo will be made available before mid-August 2020.

Then we have Microsoft executive Brad Anderson showing off the Surface Duo (though with displays unseen) here:

And old AAWP friend Joe Belfiore showing off his Duo as part of his day kit on Twitter:

Duo with Joe

And lastly Microsoft's Liat Benzur, also on Twitter:

I think this last example stretches credulity a bit though - can you imagine two kids not fighting each other for control of a device which was running a game each on 'their' screen?

Overall, I'm getting just a little excited for the possibilities of a folding, transforming smartphone again. But so much depends on the price Microsoft launches at - and that's something which hasn't been leaked at all. $999/£999 is perhaps the most likely launch price, but that will only see niche status and sales. I'd love for Microsoft to take a gamble and launch at $699/£699 and see significant take up and mind-share in the geek community.