Microsoft reveals Surface Duo, Neo app development model


Matthew Adams
by Matthew Adams
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Microsoft showed off two new dual-screen mobile devices in New York during October 2019. Those devices are the Windows 10X Surface Neo and the Surface Duo, which is based on Android. It is an exciting, and perhaps bold, re-entry into the mobile device industry for Microsoft. Now the big M has shared its goal for a common app development model for those devices based on existing Windows and Android tools.

Microsoft’s Vice President for Windows Developer Platform updated the company’s blog with a post more specifically for app developers. In that post, Mr. Gallo provided further details for how developers can unlock the new era of foldable mobile devices.

Windows 10X is an expression of Windows 10 and will be available on dual-screen and foldable PCs, including the Surface Neo and devices from several partners. Developers will be able to use existing investments and tools for Web, UWP, and Win32 on these devices.

Firstly, Mr. Gallo confirmed that all existing Android Play Store apps and websites will work just fine on the Surface Duo. Current UWP (Universal Windows Platform) and Win32 apps will also run fine on Windows 10X platform for the Surface Neo. Mr. Gallo stated, Developers will be able to use existing investments and tools for Web, UWP, and Win32 on these devices.

Dedicated APIs for dual screen devices

Secondly, the blog post speaks off a common model for developers to tailor their apps for the Neo’s and Duo’s dual-screens. Mr. Gallo stated:

For native app developers, our goal is to develop a common model layered onto existing platform-specific tools and frameworks for Windows and Android. Of course, APIs to access this model will be tailored to the developer platform for each operating system.

That means developers will be able to utilize APIs (application programming interfaces) to enhance apps with the devices’ dual screen and 360-degree hinge features.

App developers will welcome the announcement that they do not have to start afresh for the Surface Duo and Neo. Microsoft has not confirmed release dates for its dual-screen devices. However, it is anticipated that the big M will launch them during the 2020 Xmas holiday season (November or December). That one-year launch gap will give Microsoft more time to assist developers optimize their apps for the devices’ dual screens.