Hands-on with Microsoft’s Surface Duo Android phone UI

Surface Duo Android phone
Image Courtesy: Weird

On October 2, 2019, Microsoft gave us a sneak peek of the
Surface Duo, a dual-screen device and first smartphone since
the ill-fated Windows Phone. Surface Duo runs a customized
version of Android and it also comes with a new Microsoft
Launcher experience.

Surface Duo is a device with more questions than answers, and
there are many things we need to know about Microsoft’s
upcoming smartphone. While Microsoft is not willing to talk
about the hardware specifics such as the camera module, the
company has provided us with an early look at the Duo’s Android
UI.

Microsoft’s Android SDK for the Surface Duo gives us the first
look at the taste of this new device way ahead of its launch.
The SDK is intended for developers to build new apps and
prepare the existing apps for the new Android experience on the
Surface Duo.

Surface Duo multiscreen

The new SDK apparently ships with an emulator that has revealed
many things about the new user interface and gestures. The
emulator is based on AOSP (Android Open Source Project), which
means it doesn’t have any Google apps.

It runs Microsoft Launcher preview app and the focus is on
gestures. For example, the gestures let you move apps to the
other screen from Android’s multitasking window.

Surface Duo phone call

Microsoft has worked with Google to optimize Android for
Surface Duo to make the most of the two displays. For example,
the app icons on the dock are moved to the other screen when a
new app is launched. The same app is not shared between two
displays, and the transition from one app to another on
other display appears to be very polished.

Surface Duo homescreen

There are a few rough areas that needs be addressed before
Surface Duo’s launch in December 2020. Microsoft is still
working on Android experience, but basic features including
phone call app appear to be working smoothly.

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