Microsoft's rumored "Andromeda" device has got everyone talking. This is everything we know so far about the as yet unannounced foldable handset.
Back in October, I wrote an article detailing Microsoft's foldable tablet codenamed Andromeda, and talked about it featuring digital ink and telephony capabilities as well as running a new version of Windows 10 built on Windows Core OS. More information from various sources all over the web has since popped up, so here's a consolidated list of everything we know so far.
Andromeda: What is it?
Microsoft's Andromeda project is both a software and hardware effort. On the software side, Microsoft is building a new version of Windows 10 that's designed to bring the OS to a new category of mobile devices. This version of Windows 10 is codenamed Andromeda OS, and is part of Microsoft's Windows Core OS effort internally. On the hardware side, Microsoft appears to be building its own Andromeda-based device too.
This is widely expected to be Microsoft "re-entry" into the mobile market. However, rumors suggest Microsoft will not be positioning this device as a smartphone. Instead, Microsoft is going to try and carve out a new, low-volume market for the enterprise, schools, and prosumers/creators. Microsoft did a similar thing with the Surface Studio and original Surface Pro, where it built new device categories for markets that were, at the time, low-volume or non-existent.
According to my sources, Microsoft's own Andromeda device is an ARM-based foldable tablet that features two displays joined together by a hinge mechanism in the center of the device. Its primary input method is touch but will feature pen support for note-taking and inking experiences. I'm told the device will resemble that of a pocket journal, with its foldable form-factor allowing it to be opened and closed like a real notebook and fit in a pocket.
The handset will feature telephony capabilities, meaning you will be able to make calls and send texts using the device. Sources say the device will feature a Snapdragon 845 and likely come in the usual 64GB or 128GB configurations. Because this device is ARM powered, sources say the Andromeda device should last a full day at least on a single charge. That, along with the fact that this device will be running Windows Core OS, means battery life should be very good.
It is likely that Andromeda will end up being released under the Surface moniker, Microsoft's premium line of devices that are designed to showcase the best of Windows 10.
Andromeda OS is the first iteration of Windows 10 that will ship under Microsoft's Windows Core OS effort. It will feature CShell, Microsoft's upcoming adaptable UI that will allow the shell to adjust itself depending on the folded position or scenario the device is being used in.
Microsoft is building a dedicated Journal experience that spans across both displays when in use that features OneNote and Windows Ink integration. My sources tell me that Microsoft is also looking at implementing the same collaborative tech found in the Microsoft Whiteboard app, allowing multiple people to ink within the same Journal together. Other apps may also be able to share snippets and other things directly to the Journal for safekeeping or annotating on. The device will also feature multitasking that allows the user to snap apps side by side just like you would expect to be able to do on a dual-screen device.
Microsoft is also working on a Continuum mode for Andromeda that will provide a familiar desktop experience when extended to a large screen or connected to a dock. Powered by CShell, this Continuum will allow apps to run in a windowed mode, along with other enhancements that make sense in a desktop environment. We have already showcased an early build of the new CShell Continuum environment, so make sure you check that out.
Andromeda: Pricing and release date
No rumors or information have come to light about pricing at this time. We do know Andromeda will be a premium device, which means don't expect it to be cheap. In a world where even smartphones can cost upwards of $1,000, I would not be surprised if Andromeda ends up in a similar price range.
Sources suggest Microsoft is expecting to launch Andromeda at some point this year. It could be before the summer, or late in the Fall depending on whether Microsoft can get the software ready in time. Only time will tell. Of course, Microsoft can cancel or change its plans at any time.
Still more the come
We will continue to update this article with new information as it becomes available, so check back periodically! What are you most looking forward to with this rumored Andromeda device? Let us know in the comments.