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Surface 'Andromeda' patent points to pop-up folding, edge display notifications

Our favorite non-existent Surface is getting another round of patents recently, with this latest one offering a detailed look at the internal hinge mechanisms, as well as some hints as to how Microsoft plans to make the folding form factor more intuitive.

The new patent shows off how users will be able to "lock" the device into a folded position, either with the displays on the outside or on the inside. It also notes how the user interface will detect how the device is being used, and orient visual elements to accommodate. For example, if you only "pop up" the display, it will slide the notifications to the edge of the device, so you can have a glance without fully unfolding into tablet mode.

The pop-up feature can allow the user to easily manually open the display further if desired, and/or the user can view some or all of the displays at this point. For instance, in this example a graphical user interface (GUI) shows that the user has a new text message on display that says, "Meet you at 5:00 P.M." The user can easily view the text without further manipulation of the device portions. If the user wants to text back or perform other actions, the user can easily open the device further with one hand.In this case, assume the user is done, and can close the device simply by pressing down with his/her thumb until the device is closed, and the user-controllable lock 204 re-engages as shown in FIG. 2D. Note that in this implementation, the device sensed that only a portion of the displays were visible in the pop-up orientation of FIG. 2C, and so the device customized the GUI for this orientation. A different GUI may be generated if the user opens the device to a different orientation.

Although it doesn't say it explicitly, the patent seems to hint that the locking mechanism could be biometric somehow, noting that users will be able to "unlock" the device either using the sensor on the outer case, or potentially, on the sides of the device as well.

The latest rumors around 'Andromeda' seem to hint that Microsoft is planning to release a larger, more tablet-like device first, codenamed Centaurus. Whether or not any of these products make it out of the lab remains to be seen, but it feels like it'd be a massive engineering waste to not at least try to launch them to the public at this point. Hopefully, we'll learn more in 2019.

Jez Corden is a Senior 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!

30 Comments
  • Would love to see some of these launch, but not exactly confident ANY of them will see the light of day.
  • As was commenting some time ago, foldable devices support is more than a patent, and preview support for that in UWP API has been present for some time in the OS, but nobody pays attention to this.
  • Well, on the plus side the longer it takes for them to release Andromeda. The longer we have to save up to buy it lol...
  • I won't buy the first iteration...They may kill the project before the second revision comes out!
  • So you would rather help it meet its demise by lowering sales of the first generation device?
  • @netmann Your money, your call. I for one would be buying the first gen of the andromeda device. @noirsoft, people just don't think holistically thus most bicker using labels.
  • Or you could just buy an Android phone and be able to use all apps and get some great hardware for the price. Windows phone like devices seem to be rather unsupported and history has shown how the support kind of goes down after some time....
  • I have been looking forward to a Surface Phone for a long time, and every piece of information (even rumors) can help keep hopes up. If you are someone who wants to do everything possible to let the world know how much you want a Surface Phone and to encourage Microsoft to continue working on it, see the petition at:
    https://www.change.org/p/all-the-people-who-would-buy-the-phone-show-mic...
  • Petition. Really?
    How sad.
  • You'd prefer a social media campaign? Or maybe waiving signs outside their office?
  • You know Andromeda is been probably delayed because of this petition? it will never reach serious numbers (as tens of millions) so the only thing it shows is that nobody would buy it.
  • I agree, this just confirms that virtually nobody will buy one. Meanwhile the world will buy another 1.5 billion iOS and Android phones before Andromeda is released (more likely canceled). In a year or two, Windows Central will get its hands on a prototype of this device that was never released and review it. The reviews will be glowing! What a fantastic device! Then Windows Central will explain how the complete failure of Andromeda is actually a good thing as it paves the way for Satya's next "beyond the curve" device that Microsoft is working on - the Ultimate Super Ultra mobile device! It will have completely circular form factor and roll up into a tube instead of fold. In fact here are a couple of patents complete with drawing we have uncovered! LOL It will sell like hotcakes, because it is shaped like a pancake!
  • :)) Good one mate
  • LOL, petition? How much more pathetic than this can it be really?
  • Maybe it's best to just stop reporting on this and actually let it go away. Every mention of it at this point just begets eye-rolls and breeds apathy, which won't help it if it ever does come to light.
  • Well said, I think we've all seen enough goofy patent drawings to last us quite awhile. Other companies release actual products.
  • Yeah it is really getting a bit embarrassing to read about this. I mean why would people buy this when MS has dropped like three Mobile solutions and let their customers down?
  • How about a screen that you crumble up like a wad of paper... then uncrumble after you realize it’s not trash
  • And in the mean time, those of us who just want a regular windows phone, seem to have been forgotten about. We'd be happy with a middle of the range 2018 handset with Windows 10 mobile on it. No flashy new technology, no ground breaking hardware. Just a serviceable 2018 vintage handset with a newer processor and more memory than the aging Windows handsets that we already own. I like the idea of a "surface" phone, but right now what I see is a device where bigger screens, thinner chassis, and edge-to-edge displays exist to push the price up. I don't need them, I like the Windows interface, I like that it syncs so effortlessly with my other devices, I like that it recognizes that I'm an adult who wants to get things done and not a teenager who wants their phone to be a riot of colourful icons and notifications. I get that Windows phone 10 is gone and that it's not coming back, but I that doesn't stop me from hoping that Microsoft will open source the OS so that somebody can make a ROM for a more modern handset.
  • They aren't going to open source the o/s. As it means going open source across the board for every single windows based device category. As they all run unified code.
  • I agree, I just want a new Windows Phone, since 3 year old 950 is starting to showing screen burn in
  • Here is the thing my Lumia 950 XL used to be my main phone.... However, I got tired of waiting for the flying Dutchman so I bought a Samsung Galaxy S8. I did installed the Microsoft Launcher but quickly uninstalled it again since I prefer the many Samsung Themes available instead. Not really that invested in Microsoft's mobile solutions after all. Still using Office 365 though for now but that is on my PC and laptop. One could say that I have left all phone related services from MS behind as I retired my Lumia 950 XL. Not buying anything in the store for that phone ever again. Now would I ever buy some Andromeda whatever from MS again? NO WAY! I mean come on man, I shelled out like $600 for a flagship model when MS promised us all to be committed to the Win 10 Mobile OS and then they ditch us all like that. Talk about failing to deliver big time. I am now very happy with my high end Android phone that can do anything I want it to and I find it hard to see Google drop Android anytime soon. But by all means keep writing these funny articles about this phone like device no one really wanna buy unless they forgot how they were let down the last time they put their trust in MS to deliver strong and reliable mobile solutions.
  • I got a Note9, and I found out that Android is seriously annoying compared to WP... But, the apps makeup for it.
  • AnDRAMAda should never and will never happen. The whole concept is an embarrassment.
  • Why do you think that?
  • Don’t get me wrong. I’d love to see that exact device in the patent. It’s thin. It’s light. It’s pocketable. Biometrics built in. But these frieking patents are ridiculous. They’re just purposely stringing us along. I have no doubt that with the billions in cash reserves they have, and their vast talent pool that if they really wanted to do this thing it could have been released a year or two ago. Problem is they’re not committed. And that scares me. Anything they release will just be another half hearted attempt, released AFTER their competitors’ similar devices. It’s time for MS to either cook or get out of the kitchen. To me it’s obvious that MS isn’t really that into this project. Or it would be done by now. And if that’s the case just stop already and let Google and Samsung deliver on the next big personal computing revolution. But being only half in is just embarrassing.
  • Good points, and I agree with you, but I seriously think that MS knows they need apps for smaller Surface devices, and that's why they are hesitant. MS also knows that they can't stop R&D on smaller devices, because that would put them in a worse situation down the road. That's why we continue to see patents. Let's not fool ourselves into thinking MS releases these patents to appease a few fans. No, patents are to secure intellectual rights so that even if Apple Droid does come first they will have to license MS's technology. That's really half the reason for these patents. MS is in more than one business here. 🤔 🤔 🤔 Think about that.
  • More cartoon drawings of what will not be released. If any of these devices see the light of day, I will buy one, love the os, the device itself and then not be surprised when it is killed. Comments from a user of a giant pos Galaxy Note8.
  • fOLKS it's clear that Microsoft wont make any smart phones but Microsoft could
    install What I call a "Business Phone" inside the "Centaurus" foldable PC device
    that is a non pocket able Andromeda like device Microsoft will bring to the
    Market place. A "Business Phone" would only have the same apps a Business
    Executive has on his WALL WIRED non mobile Desktop Office phone. It's inside
    the "Centaurus" device for a Business Person to send & receive a voice call. most
    smart phone users wont like this phone but business people will have a small
    production Tablet they can send & receive business calls with. Some Windows
    smart phone would like this model of the "Centaurus too because it would be
    able to run x86/Win32 programs on it just like they wanted the "Surface"
    smart phone to run except this device has be a no nonsense business phone &
    like a feature phone have few apps. hmm however the Microsoft store will have
    Apps a person can use if they wish to. I think enough people would buy
    this version of the Microsoft Surface Centaurus foldable PC Tablet to make it
    worth while for Microsoft to sell. Microsoft Execs would have to give up this
    silly notion that all devices that have a phones must have a smart phone
    with thousands of Apps when people will settle for just having decent phone to
    talk to people with.
  • Microsoft will not make a phone again. They already make pc and tablets in ine. So now what? PC/tablet and phone in one? Aha! A phablet! But was that bot what the Lumia 1520 and the Lumia 950 XL were in the first place?