If the rumors are correct, we might finally be hearing the official word on the Surface Duo in a few weeks. While the hardware is pretty much already known, save for confirmation of those specs, the software is still pretty much a mystery outside of the parts that Microsoft tried (and partly failed) to show off. Now one more part of that end user experience is being leaked and it’s one that tries to take advantage of the device’s unique form factor that you won’t find in most Android devices.
The feature is called “app groups” according to Windows Latest but it’s a bit of a misnomer. While it does group apps, you can only combine a minimum and maximum of two apps. It would have been better to call it “App Pair” but Samsung already has dibs on that name.
In fact, the two are actually exactly similar in their purpose and how they work. You group two apps and get a single launcher for that pair. When you tap on that pair, it will open both apps side by side. In the Surface Duo’s case, that means launching one app on one of the two screens.
It’s a power feature that plays into the Surface Duo’s strengths and Microsoft’s productivity spiel. It would be nice to have it as a generic feature on Android, of course, serving both tablets as well as large phones. You can bet iPadOS will eventually get such a feature.
As for the rest of the Android experience on the Surface Duo, we’re expecting a new Microsoft Launcher that has been designed to also work with this novel form factor. Hopefully, Microsoft put in a lot more work in making that experience less jarring, otherwise, it might end up selling an expensive prototype that few will find actually usable for productivity.