What you need to know
- The Surface Duo is a dual-screen Android phone from Microsoft.
- The Surface Duo line supports a unique feature with Xbox Game Pass and Xbox Cloud Gaming, allowing for the second display to act as a touch gamepad.
- Sadly, the feature has been broken for a while, but Microsoft says a fix is on the way.
One of the coolest unique features of the Surface Duo is the Xbox Game Pass implementation. On a Surface Duo or a Surface Duo 2, spanning the Xbox Game Pass app across both screens transforms it into a Nintendo DS-like experience, giving you a gamepad on the bottom display.
This is awesome primarily because it removes the touch controls from the screen, meaning that your thumbs no longer obscure gameplay. Xbox console games are generally not designed with phones in mind, and the Surface Duo's unique form factor went a long way to solving this problem with Xbox Cloud Gaming titles. Or at least, it did.
For quite a few weeks now, Xbox Game Pass has been broken on the Surface Duo line. The second screen functionality went missing in an update a while back, and more recently, the app itself won't even launch at all in some instances. You can grab the Xbox Game Pass (Beta) app as a temporary workaround, but that doesn't solve the missing dual-screen functionality. Moreover, you can't use Xbox remote play features either on the Surface Duo, likely as a result of the same bugs. Thankfully, Microsoft is working on a fix.
In a statement to Windows Central, a Microsoft spokesperson said that an update will solve this problem hopefully quite soon.
"Microsoft is aware that Surface Duo 2 users are experiencing issues using Remote Play and the second screen experience with Xbox Cloud Gaming. The team is investigating the issue and working to provide a fix in the coming days."
The Surface Duo is a truly unique smartphone in a world of boring rectangles, bringing additional functionality and multi-tasking capabilities that other devices simply aren't capable of. Even the more popular Galaxy Fold line falls over when it comes to side-by-side app usage, given that regardless of what app is currently in focus, the keyboard will still shift everything around as you're trying to work. I recently tried using a Galaxy Fold 3 as my sole device with a Bluetooth keyboard for covering an event, and found it to be quite painful when attempting to do anything beyond the bare basics. With the Duo 2's independent screens, it was far easier to work on one display without disturbing the content on the other, which I found to be a vastly improved workflow.
I'll have a bigger article with some of my experiences switching to the Surface Duo 2 in the coming days, but it's encouraging to see Microsoft's willingness to fix what is quite likely a very niche feature for current Duo users. But I for one will be happy to see it return, as one of the Xbox Cloud Gaming faithful.
Microsoft recently announced a mountain of new Surface products and features, so be sure to take a look at our recent Surface event roundup right here.
Jez Corden is the Managing Editor for Windows Central, focusing primarily on all things Xbox and gaming. Jez is known for breaking exclusive news and analysis as relates to the Microsoft ecosystem while being powered by caffeine. Follow on Twitter @JezCorden and listen to his Xbox Two podcast, all about, you guessed it, Xbox!
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