According to Windows Central, Microsoft is just weeks away from releasing an update for both the Surface Duo 1 and Surface Duo 2. The dual-screen devices are expected to receive Android 12L, a special version of the operating system made for large screens and foldable handsets.
Surface Duo 1 and 2 will soon get Android 12L with a Windows 11 skin
While the Surface Duo phones aren’t foldable, the first-generation model has a pair of 5.6-inch AMOLED displays with a resolution of 1350 x 1800. When opened, the device creates an 8.1-inch tablet. size screen with an 1800 x 2700 resolution (albeit with a hinge in the middle). The Surface Duo 2 comes with a pair of 5.8-inch screens with a resolution of 1344 x 1892. When open, the two screens deliver an 8.3-inch tablet-sized canvas with a resolution of 1892 x 2688 for users to work on.
Android 12L is still a few weeks away from release for the Surface Duo 1 & 2
The Android 12L update for the two Surface Duo models will include a skin based on Windows 11 that will use Microsoft’s “Fluent Design System”. The latter affects features such as Microsoft Launcher’s activity feed, notification shade, and Settings app. The report says to expect more effects, blurry surfaces and smoother animations when using gestures to open and close apps.
This is Microsoft’s first time using its “Fluent Design” on Android. Usually, Microsoft chooses Google’s “Material Design” when it comes to Android. But with the Android 12L update, you will see that elements such as switches, buttons and notifications are made using the “Fluent Design”.
It seems that Microsoft not only wants the Surface Duo phones to offer an excellent Android experience, but also wants consumers to see the device as a mobile extension of their Windows PC; this is a smart move by the company that could boost sales. The Android quick settings area in the notification shade looks like the quick settings panel in Windows 11. The Settings app contains Windows 11-style icons for individual categories.
The Surface Slim Pen 2 gets a new “Pen menu” interface similar to the Windows 11 pen menu. It shows the remaining battery life for the pen and adds shortcuts for all apps installed on the device. And with Android 12L, Surface Duo users can use Google’s Android wallpaper theme, which changes the icon colors and the colors of the accents used on Android to match the predominant color of the user’s chosen wallpaper.
An Android 12L feature that is available for foldable phones like the Galaxy Z Fold 4, but won’t appear on the Surface Duo models, is the taskbar interface.
Microsoft wants to market the Surface Duo as an extension of your Windows PC
Windows Central notes that the update is in final testing and could be released late this month (October) or early next month (November). Last month (as long as we specify months here, that would be September), Microsoft denied reports that it was giving up the Surface Duo and discontinuing the product. If the company does promote the device as an extension of your PC, we could see it helping to jump-start sales.
While Microsoft has addressed many issues with the Surface Duo 2, starting at $1,500, it remains an expensive investment. Still, Microsoft sold out, and Best Buy also knocked down the kiosks it had built for the phone in its stores. There has been speculation that the Surface Duo 3 will be a true foldable along the lines of the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4.
Microsoft is holding its next Surface event next Tuesday, October 11, and we don’t expect the Surface Duo 3 to be unveiled. Of course, that doesn’t mean Microsoft won’t give us a preview of the device as it did with the original Surface Duo in 2019, 11 months before the phone was finally released.