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Nitya Narasimhan, Ph.D for Microsoft Azure

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Surface Duo Dev: Do One Better with Dual Screens!

Found this interesting? Three calls to action:

  1. Subscribe to the Surface Duo Blog

  2. Read about Creating Apps for Dual Screen

  3. Subscribe to the surfaceduodev tag

Also bookmark our Azure For Mobile Developers page for the most recent resources and documentation.

On Aug 14, 2020 I logged into Twitter and saw this tweet. Saying that I was excited is an understatment.

Launch day was nearly here and soon we would all be able to get hands-on experience with developing mobile apps for the Microsoft Surface Duo!

What is the Surface Duo?

The Surface Duo is a dual-screen Android-powered mobile device from Microsoft. You can read its technical specifications but at it's core, it is about three things:

  • Dual Screens which allow you to view two apps at once, side-by-side, potentially giving you new ways to explore mobile user experiences.
  • Microsoft 365 + Android giving you core productivity apps alongside the large Android app ecosystem of the Play store.
  • Multiple Modes thanks to a unique 360-degree hinge which allows the device to be used in open mode (like a paper), flipped (into tent or laptop modes), or folded (for phone-like portrait or landscape modes).

Why does it matter?

I had worked with mobile devices for over a decade at Motorola Research. And watching the launch felt like coming full circle and revisiting ideas for mobile user experiences that support multi-tasking (for productivity) or created unique multi-screen experiences (for context). And because this is an Android device, you can actually build applications for it, using any available mobile framework - from native applications (using Kotlin or Java) to cross-platform development (using Flutter or React-Native) to exploring mobile web support (including progressive web apps) using the mobile Edge browser.

What is the vision behind the Surface Duo?

Watch the video below and you get a real sense of the passion and purpose that went into this launch, from the key members of the product team.

Or scan my sketchnote for a quick summary!

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Next steps for developers!

The purpose of this post is to kickstart a series of articles that will share relevant resources, tutorials and learnings over the next few weeks and months. If you are a mobile or web developer interested in exploring app development for the Surface Duo, here are 3 actions to take right now:

  1. Subscribe to the Surface Duo Blog - this is a blog maintained by the Surface Duo team and has excellent articles (with code) for building apps using various frameworks from React Native to Xamarin, Flutter - and Kotlin!

  2. Read about Creating Apps for Dual Screen - this is the best place to start if you want to understand the design affordances of the device and get your development environment setup!

  3. Subscribe to the surfaceduodev tag on - we will be publishing articles and tutorials - and providing early alerts around relevant events, people or projects that can help you extend your understanding.

Have specific questions or comments? Leave them below and I would love to answer them. And of course, in case you missed it -- I am a member of the Microsoft Cloud Advocacy team and my focus is on mobile development. Want to catch up on all things related to Cloud + AI? Follow the Azure publication right here on

Until the next post - keep those emulators running!

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