Earlier this month, Microsoft launched the Surface Duo, and in doing so entered a bold new era of smartphone development. The Duo is a dual-screen device running Android and there's not really anything else quite like it on the market. Reviews for the smartphone have reflected the trail-blazing nature of the device.
Those mixed reviews have been effusive in praise for the Surface Duo hardware. This is a thin, high-end, and well-engineered handset that reviewers love. However, they were less happy about the way the Duo works. Microsoft is now aiming to solve this problem with a major software update.
Thanks to the Duo running year-old specs thanks to being announced in 2019, there was a worry the device would not be a good performer. Microsoft has pushed the Duo as a new way to experience a smartphone, with a tilt towards enterprise users. Unfortunately, many of the neat tricks under the hood of the device have been hampered by glitches and poor performance.
Whether its gestures or screen orientation, reviews point to a device that simply feels like a first attempt. That's fine because it is apparent people like the core idea of the Duo enough to wait to see what happens with a second generation.
Good news is, they may not have to wait until next year's Surface Duo 2. Because the problems with the device all seem to be software related, it was always presumable Microsoft could fix those issues with an update.
And that's exactly what the company is trying to do. Zac Bowden reports as Microsoft updates the Duo from Android 10 to Android 11, plenty of software enhancements will also arrive. Leading the way is the camera, which increasingly looks like it was an afterthought during the development of the smartphone.
Whether it's a business device or not, not having a stellar camera on a flagship phone in 2020 is a dealbreaker for many users. Microsoft is not going to be able to deliver “stellar” this generation, the hardware is just not there. Instead, the company will focus on at least maximizing the potential of what is available.
So, the upcoming update will add new features, such as “Photo Solid” mode and “Image Refiner”. Furthermore, new software will reduce the shaking of the camera and afford more stability. This will be achieved by using Electronic Image Stabilization (EIS). Also on the camera front, Microsoft could release a zzHDR feature to show a live preview of HDR images without shutter lag.
That's certainly a good start and we hope Microsoft can also focus software updates on the general usability of the Surface Duo. It's also worth noting it is unlikely all the camera tools will drop at once. Still, it is good news Microsoft wants to improve the Duo experience.