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Come on, Google: Microsoft is the new Android pioneer

Come on, Google: Microsoft is the new Android pioneer

Want to take a look at the hottest Android enhancements of 2020? Take a look at what’s happening at Microsoft (yes, Microsoft!) Right now.

Every year, during this period, we start thinking about what Google has in store for Android in the coming months. AND leaving aside general trends , the biggest questions tend to revolve around the next Android version of the year.

some Android versions are deals mainly hidden improvements while others focus on subtle but significant details. And sometimes we see massive fundamental changes to what the operating system represents: switching to on-screen navigation buttons comb and Ice cream sandwich 2011 ; introduction of the modern interface for designing card-centered materials in To fall since 2014 ; and then the emergence of gesture-based navigation in Foot from 2018 (and, uh, again on upgrade from Android 10 from last year ).

It is still too early to know for sure what themes we will see with this year’s Android 11 offer, but I suspect that this year’s most interesting and potential transformations for Android will not be connected to that software at all, or through any of the efforts. Google, by the way.

Stay with me here, because I swear I haven’t lost my mind: the biggest changes in the way we use and think about Android in 2020 could come from … Microsoft.

Yes, Microsoft. I know what a strange, upside-down world we live in. But when you stop and think about it, it actually makes a lot of sense.

The company basically created a Windows Phone 2.0, in other words, only this time it did so in a way that took advantage of the world’s most widely used operating system, rather than trying to resist it. Like Google, interestingly, Microsoft is now adopting a concentration it was post operating system and focuses on ecosystem over Operating system .

There are certainly many more we don’t know about the duo and a broad cause for skepticism. But with the launch of a Duo specific software development kit And a lot of associated documentation this month, we get some fresh clues about Microsoft’s true ambitions for the device and its final plan to take Android into new wild territory that Google itself has. still to be explored. And if you ask me, this has the potential to be one of the most significant advances Android has seen in a long time, the kind of thing that could have huge implications not only for the future of the platform, but also for mobile technology in general. . .

Specifically, there are two main reasons why I’m cautiously optimistic about what Microsoft is going to do with Android – my two keys to dining in the mountains of the Duo-related material company.

The first:

While many companies are launching foldable products, Microsoft is introducing a smarter twist on the concept and presenting a genuine reason to exist.

When we talk about foldable phones right now, two common themes arise: First, they generally are innovation for the sake of innovation : a solution in search of a problem that does not exist at all. As cool as it sounds, it doesn’t add significant value to your daily phone experience. And even in the rare situations where I can to have some practical benefit In terms of portability, they are fraught with trade-offs that make them virtually unacceptable to everyone.

Rather than continue without thinking about that foldable train, as most manufacturers seem eager to do these days, Microsoft has come up with a smarter setup: a two-fold, two-fold phone. screen separated which are placed next to each other. And sure, there’s a thin hinge between them, but when you see how the Duo is designed to work, you realize it doesn’t really matter that much. (And also call me crazy, but that thin hinge looks much less appealing than awkward stitches on screen of a foldable phone and the many durability issues that come with it).

The most interesting advantage of the Duo is that it can’t treat its dual displays as a single large screen (although it certainly May do it in certain scenarios). Is to be able to treat them like part separate but complementary from a phone experience, something that really seems like it could change the very nature of the way we think about Android and the mobile computer.

Namely: The Microsoft software development kit presents five main ways in which applications can take advantage of the Duo’s dual screens and realize their potential. Technically, there is a sixth, basic «stretch cloth» in which an application is spread across the two screens, but more advanced models show how Microsoft manages to evolve Android in a way that Google does not have.

Take, for example, appearance «master detail» . There, the applications divide their content between a main panel, which contains a kind of list view, and a details panel, where there is additional information. Think of it as Outlook’s dashboard, which has become a standard part of the operating system, and think of all the ways in which applications – from email clients to calendars, photo galleries, and even music – could take advantage of it.


Microsoft

Then there is the point of view of «Two pages» , in which applications can provide an open book-like experience, complemented by turning the page. It would certainly evolve the way we experience reading-related applications and could also create some interesting possibilities for document- or note-oriented scenarios.

The «dual view» setting Allows an app to display similar types of content side by side (two documents, two lists, two images, or even two products on shopping sites) so you can easily compare and work on the two items without having to you need to make narrow screens that split or move from side to side awkwardly.

Microsoft Duo, Android: Dual View
Microsoft

And finally, view «accompanying panel» is designed to show interface elements complementary (tools, menus, or dashboards that are usually hidden behind a button in a standard single-screen environment) next to the main workspace.

Microsoft Duo, Android: Accompanying panel
Microsoft

Beyond these possibilities, there is also the simple and straightforward option of having two different applications on their own screens, side by side. And in this arrangement, if your applications support it, you can drag and drop content between the two programs (text, links, images, or even «rich objects») instead of cutting and pasting.

Do you see what’s going on here? In fact, Microsoft has taken a careful approach to how an extended screen setup should work and what kind of real, instantly identifiable value it should offer. Instead of taking a new kind of cool-looking technology and then trying to find a reason to exist, Microsoft came up with the reason and then I know he came with the device to recognize it. With all the wild phone shapes that It’s flying right now, which no other company has been able to do yet.

However, there is another side to this story: one that is essential for a phone like the Duo or any other device with an unusual approach to be successful. And based on this first look at Microsoft’s strategy, it looks like the company is getting ready to work it out.

Microsoft is building a smart anti-failure solution and ensuring that applications without specific dual-screen support still work well in your configuration.

No matter how interesting the advanced use cases of the Duo are, this part is essential. I mean, think about it: the Achilles heel of Microsoft’s entire strategy here is that Android app developers need to actively optimize their apps to work in any of the fixes mentioned above. Not only will you open Duo, you’ll open any old app, and you’ll need to be ready to manage those types of next-level screen layouts. And we all know how smart some Android developers can be when it comes to adopting new standards.

But here’s the saving grace: According to Microsoft development documentation, Android applications on the Duo will always open by default only on one of the device’s screens, so that they look and act like any other device. Android normal.

Microsoft Duo, Android: default views
Microsoft

Not It is Undoubtedly, compatibility, in other words, due to the default settings, is exactly the same as what you get on any other Android phone. So in the worst of the cases , has a device that allows you to focus on a single application on a separate 5.6 «screen, while having the ability to open any other application or process in a single second 5.6 «screen. This could still be interesting, especially if the hardware is attractive. And in the best the cases , you would have applications that can do all those other advanced possibilities I was thinking of.

Now, let’s not get over it: this is still just a concept. It still exists tons of unanswered questions about the Duo, including its cost, limitations related to setting up its unique camera (only inside!) and exactly how Microsoft will handle software updates.

But according to the concept, at least, This device seems to have all the practical productivity benefits that flip phones do not have free all the hardware inconveniences that these devices have . With Android 10, Google created the basic framework for how apps could exist on multiple panels. Meanwhile, Microsoft seems to be the one to take the ball and run with it, introducing a new smart concept and beating Google on its own turf.

This is the kind of thing that makes you sit down and say, «Oh! Okay. Now I understand why this might be useful rather than just a novel, ”and maybe, just maybe, the kind of thing that ushers in a new era for the kinds of experiences Android can afford.