Just how would a folding tablet like the Surface 'Andromeda' even work?
Seeing the Surface Hub 2 reveal offered a glimpse at Windows' dynamic multi-panel future, imagine if you could fold that display and put it in your pocket?
After watching the Surface Hub 2 reveal yesterday, I felt like I was peering into the future. Surface reveal ads have become a bit of a phenomenon unto themselves, but for some reason, I think the Hub 2 has been the most captivating for me so far, even though I'm nowhere near the target audience.
The Surface Hub 2 is a boardroom display on steroids. It features rotational capabilities, inking, seamless integration with multiple Hubs and other Surface products, and can offer full-body Skype conversations as if you were in the same room. Smart screens like this aren't exactly new, but most of them frankly suck, with weak capabilities designed to meet education department budgets. Indeed, the Hub 2 is as niche as they come, but clearly, Microsoft sees an opportunity here. Perhaps they also see a similar niche opportunity with Andromeda.
The rumored Surface "Andromeda" is the near-mythical folding phone-tablet-thing that we've been writing about for what feels like forever at this point. Numerous small leaks, hints in OS code, and patent filings seem to point towards a type of tablet, comprised of two displays that connect at the middle. Since the Surface Hub 2 runs on WCOS/CShell, in a sense, it's offering the first glimpse at a Windows built specifically with multi-display use-cases in mind, such as the folding phone. Of course, you can use multi-monitors with Windows 10 today, but it's not always seamless, nor is it designed with apps in mind, to leverage all of those displays simultaneously. Andromeda, presumably, will be.
That creates various compelling compute scenarios that really got me thinking recently, and I did some (bad) doodles on my Surface Book 2 to explore the possibilities.
Naturally, any folding device from Microsoft would likely be aimed at prosumers first, who don't rely on all the hip and cool social apps that will likely never hit PWA or UWP. Don't expect your folding Surface to ever get Snapchat, and at this time, it's unlikely classic Windows Phone apps like WhatsApp will arrive either. Andromeda will likely be designed to accompany your phone, much like a smartwatch, iPad, or even laptop, using Microsoft's "Your Phone" app to keep you informed about happenings on your other devices.
I'm by no means suggesting you'll be able to fully replace your laptop with Andromeda, but envision scenarios where you might only need to do some light word processing, such as a university lecture, a press conference, or some kind of meeting where notetaking in OneNote might be more efficient than whipping out a huge laptop, or trying to awkwardly swipe-type on your phone.
Perhaps after the event, you find a desk and want to convert some handwritten notes and add more context in Word. Setting the phone at an angle could produce a laptop-like experience complete with a virtual keyboard, similarly to the dual-display Lenovo Yoga Book. You could even throw in a Bluetooth keyboard and mouse, similarly to how you're able to with Windows 10 Mobile, albeit with a built-in stand to keep it from falling over.
There are even more possibilities when you throw in (likely) Bluetooth capabilities. Perhaps you take those notes and want to do additional research, keep your word document on one side, and open an Edge browser on the next.
This isn't far removed from simply snapping apps on a laptop, of course. The difference being Andromeda could be something small enough to fold and slip into your pocket, while large enough to be truly productive in short bursts. It could theoretically straddle a niche that isn't quite tablet, phone, or laptop.
Leisure and gaming
Sure, it's unlikely we'll ever see Snapchat on this thing (if indeed, this thing exists), but that doesn't mean you wouldn't be able to have fun on it. Any compatible UWP or PWA app will work on it just fine, scaling as necessary, much like they do on Windows 10 today.
Android phones can already pull off the dual-app thing, allowing you to watch a YouTube video while browsing side by side on your phone's display. But, at least theoretically, a dual-display Windows 10 device could take it a little bit further, processor withstanding.
The hinge creates interesting scenarios for gaming, too. Especially in a world where Microsoft's Xbox team is actively exploring streaming full games from the cloud. One of the biggest issues to solve surrounding this will be control schemes. The Xbox controller's Bluetooth stack is not available on Android, but it will be available on any future Windows 10 tablet device, similarly to how it works on PC and Windows 10 Mobile. Fold the display into tent mode, and game on.
If you don't fancy taking your controller with you, however, perhaps Microsoft could leverage the second display to create a type of virtual software gamepad. While this wouldn't work particularly well for shooters (no triggers or bumpers), there are hundreds of slower-paced games that would work just fine using this touch method.
What do you think?
There are probably dozens of other interesting use cases the folding aspect of Andromeda could have to add to its uniqueness. Dual cameras could produce 3D scanning techniques as Microsoft has hinted at in the past, and Microsoft has been experimenting with all sorts of docking peripherals for folding displays.
There's a chance Andromeda will never see the light of day, but after the Surface Hub 2 reveal, I'm more hopeful than ever that Microsoft will take a chance to do something special, even if its potential audience remains niche. We'll just have to wait and see.
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Jez Corden a Managing Editor at 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!
My tab is 8" and runs Windows
I know people that do.
I have a zero Alphabet Inc policy in my house. I won't even give you the wifi password.
You want Windows.
"Emulation is basically useless as reviews of WoA have shown. Microsoft is already backtracking on WoA. If Andromeda doesn't get released, it is because WoA isn't viable."
Can I use it? 😁
a need to carry around Moleskine notebooks. Note taking, art, and then because it's digital, quick collaboration tasks, etc. Think students, artists, designers and front line workers.
I keep telling people the only way future Windows releases will support telephony is via VOIP providers and possibly VoLTE. Microsoft are out of the gsm/cdma/umts space.
They need to put their 4" "Galaxy Express" phones down, and get back to work flipping those burgers.... And, I'm sure these trolls are missing front teeth to. 😂😂😂
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vXAXqgNh8tM Yes the Motorola Razr V4 or Samsung Galaxy Wing, the latest in flip phone technology. Hence my comment to wait for Windows 10 ARM next version (2 or 3), that includes a phone app. As soon as basic phone capability comes back into the OS then you won't need to be asking these questions.
Well done Jez.
Now, let's start an era of news/ blog with pen created content.
That's making the most of current Windows 10 device, and will be one of the use cases for Andromeda as well.
Consumers like new gadgets just like the tablets that came out but as someone said when the phones got bigger they started buying them up. Now that the market is saturated with smartphones and it is beginning to drop off some the time is right for a new device that has the advantages of the phone with the abilities of the pc and the connectivity of the operating system with the power of the cloud that connects them all together.
The world is getting smaller in terms of people being connected as never before. Having one device that will fill the need that consumers have will take something like this Andromeda device to top. The first to effectively produce this device will rule the market like Apple has with the smartphone. It may possible be Apple that does this but it will be Microsoft that opens that door.
What I observed from reviews dual screen phones excells at
1)Reading apps that offers dual screen interface
2)Full screen web Browsing where app stretches to both screen.
3)Gaming where one screen only display game content without any controls and other screen offers controls and settings.
Lots of other scenarios involving multiple instances apps,new dual screen focused apps designs
As for andromeda, well it's going to be great for prosumers - only issue I see is the screen crease is going to inhibit the use of say, adobe illustrator (which does have a touch mode), that would otherwise be amazing on a pocketable device. Guess artists will have to make do with one screen until flexible screens come. One use that isn't mentioned - using Netflix on both screens, full sized! The screen crease is supposed to be nearly invisible, and having a pocketable device that folds out to a tablet will be amazing for travellers and on the go people who want to Netflix or youtube on the go....
Imagine joining two Suface Hub 2 but the size of a phone
with Windows Core OS, C-shell that responds to a whole different arrays of sensors on the phone to understand which sides are facing and away from the users. The sky is the limit...
Windows 10 is now a modular OS with a Core that you can add to and take away
functions to create Computers of various types. The Andromeda version of Windows 10 is the only one that is lated to have voice Telephony components so this dual screen Tablet will have a built in Cell Phone I fully expect Microsoft to debut Andromeda Tablets Later This this year with a model that does have a built in 4G Cell Phone. it will be the closest thing to a smart phone Microsoft
will make. this 2 screen Andromeda device needs a blue tooth headset to help it's owner use the built in Cell Phone it would very Awkward to send and receive voice phone calls on unless you like speaker phone.
I think the dual screen, touch and pen input based use will be the best value and experience on the mythical andromeda device. For other productivity, within the hardware constraints of the device I would use and external keyboard. I would see andromeda as the follow-up to continuum on phone yet fit the profile of the courier device potential. I think the virtual keyboard will be a poor experience and selling point. It's cool and futuristic but not practical. I can use swipe just fine, but I can't even use the virtual keyboard on my surface pro properly today. For true productivity and for blind typing and need that physical keypress. It's just too mentally frustating having to look at my fingers on the screen all the time to see what I'm typing. But I've learned to be productive with swiping on a smaller screen. For me that's a better visual way to use the virtual keyboard, together with predictive text, not having to worry about pressing the wrong keys all the time. I think that will fit the profile of the andromeda better.
No mention of any Microsoft product....
and everything you see, they see on the other side, suitably oriented. if u r writing a paper together your docs are simulatqneously edited and revised for each other . have you Ever tried that? sounds like fun.
Maybe this bridge could be the 'surface spine'?