Microsoft begins charming developers into supporting its dual-screen vision

Microsoft has kicked off its campaign to get developers to support its dual-screen vision with the release of a preview toolkit.

The toolkit allows developers to begin crafting apps for the company’s upcoming Android-powered Surface Duo smartphone. However, those wanting to start building apps for the Windows 10 X-powered Surface Neo PC will need to wait a bit longer.

Both of the new devices feature two displays which Microsoft is betting on as being the future of computing. Microsoft is setting out to make building apps for them as simple as possible. With thoughts of the disaster that was Windows Phone still fresh in people’s minds, this will be crucial to making the new devices a success.

For the Surface Duo, Microsoft’s decision to go with Android rather than attempt to launch a brand new platform should help to avoid the “it has no apps” situation which deterred consumers from buying Windows Phones (subsequently causing the vicious cycle of developers not wanting to spend time building apps for a platform with few users.)

Microsoft is promising that apps for Android will work on Surface Duo without any modifications required. However, if developers want to take full advantage of both screens then Microsoft is providing the tools for them to do so.

Here’s what the Surface Duo preview SDK includes:

  • Native Java APIs to support dual-screen development for the Surface Duo device, including the DisplayMask API, Hinge Angle Sensor, and new device capabilities.

  • Android Emulator with a preview Surface Duo image that is integrated into Android Studio so you can test your app without a physical device. The emulator simulates postures, gestures, hinge angle, mimicking the seam between the two screens, and more. We’ll continue to add functionality over time.

  • Requirements: For Android Studio and Android Emulator.

And here’s what the Android Emulator looks like with the Surface Duo image loaded:

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As mentioned earlier, developers wanting to get started with building apps for Windows 10X devices – like the Surface Neo – will need to wait a bit longer. Currently, Microsoft plans to release an emulator on February 11th in addition to APIs for dual-screen support, documentation, and code samples.

Here’s an image of the Windows 10X emulator:

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The Surface Duo tools released today are buggy, as you’d expect at this early stage, but offers an interesting look at the OS while allowing developers to begin their journey to building apps for the next generation of devices.

You can find a video mockup by designer Jonas Daehnert of how Surface Duo should function once it’s a bit more polished here.

Interested in hearing industry leaders discuss subjects like this and sharing their use-cases? Attend the co-located 5G ExpoIoT Tech Expo, Blockchain Expo, AI & Big Data Expo, and Cyber Security & Cloud Expo World Series with upcoming events in Silicon Valley, London, and Amsterdam.

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