Today, Microsoft has revealed that it is returning to the handset market with Surface Duo, with Android. For Xbox gamers, it also briefly provoked something quite exciting. For years we've been talking about Surface line folding devices and the possibilities in them, and today Microsoft has finally come up with all these rumors. Now we have the Surface Neo tablet, running Windows 10X, and the Surface Duo phone, running Android – Microsoft doesn't want me to call it a smartphone.
During the event, Microsoft showed several ways to use these devices in a productivity context, explaining that they are announcing them one year before their late 2020 release for developers to adapt there. Office, side-by-side navigation and typing, and multitasking for various applications were demonstrated on stage, but the Surface team also took a little bit of Xbox.
During the Neo / Duo trailer, we watched Xbox Project xCloud game streaming in dual-screen action, showing the upcoming Microsoft APIs that allow developers to tailor touch experiences for their games. Today you need an Xbox Bluetooth controller and retail support to play xCloud on your phone efficiently. In the future, developers will be able to take advantage of special APIs that detect when a game is streaming to a small screen device and bring the necessary controls to make it work. This also includes folding devices.
When folded, as we speculated earlier, Surface Duo would gain touch commands for the xCloud Project at the bottom of the screen, creating an experience remarkably similar to a Nintendo 3DS of the past.
The possibilities here are huge for Microsoft and the developers, as they will bring high-fidelity console games for small-screen, low-power mobile devices that are transmitted through the cloud rather than requiring the use of a local computer. You won't even need an Xbox controller in the future, just unfold the device and play. It may not be the best experience for a nervous shooter like Call of Duty, but as we saw in Fortnite on mobile and the popularity of Nintendo 3DS, many games can be played that way efficiently.
Fortunately, we'll be hearing more about Surface Neo / Duo game possibilities soon. Windows Club will keep up with everything. What did you think?
I'm a lawyer, journalist and fan of the Windows platform for about 10 years. I cover events and I am daily aware of Microsoft's world of consumer products.
I respond as executive editor of Windows Club.