Microsoft is in the process of developing the Surface Duo and Surface Neo, two dual-screen devices. The Duo runs Android, and the Neo a special version of Windows 10. Microsoft is now releasing tools for developers to develop apps for the new devices.

A developer kit for the Android-powered Duo device has already been released. Microsoft announces that dev tools for the Windows-powered Neo will become available later, in “upcoming weeks”. The target date for this is February 11th.

By default, apps on these dual-screen devices will only use one screen. Users can choose to “extend” the app to stretch it across both screens. The app itself cannot force this extension.

Different approaches

Simply stretching an app to fill both screens is a possible approach, but Microsoft gave some alternative pattern ideas to make better use of the form factor. For example, there is a Master Detail view, where one page gives an overview and the other the details. The Dual View approach was also mentioned as an example, allowing, for example, to display text on the left and a graphical interface or an image on the right.

Meanwhile, Microsoft is building web standards for two-screen devices. This means, for example, creating APIs for developers to easily detect two-screen devices so that they can, for example, adjust their web apps accordingly. The company says that preview builds of Microsoft Edge with dual-screen APIs should be rolled out “soon”. Although no specific launch date has been given for both devices, Microsoft has indicated a period for both, namely around the holidays of 2020.