Surface Duo struggles with dual-screen apps in live demo − but then wows

Microsoft attempted to show off the Surface Duo’s dual-screen apps functionality for the first time earlier this week, but the live demonstration didn’t quite go to plan.

Kevin Gallo, the head of the Windows Developer Platform, was the unlucky person tasked with wowing an audience of developers at the Microsoft 365 Developer Day, and his demonstration was scuppered when the app drawer (which he’d launched on the right screen) on his demo unit stopped responding (Zac Bowden via The Verge).

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The pesky app drawer did eventually close, but the bug remained, preventing Gallo from showing what Google Maps would look like in dual-screen mode. But no fear − he had a backup Surface Duo in his pocket.

The backup unit did allow Gallo − who somehow remains cool, calm and unflustered throughout − to show off Google Maps, and there followed an impressive segment in which he zoomed in and out of map view with his thumb on one screen and his finger on the other.

Unfortunately, the right-hand screen then froze again, ruining the second dual-screen demo.

After the event, Microsoft replaced the botched demo with a video that shows a much smoother, far more impressive demonstration of the Surface Duo’s dual-screen functionality.

After the Google Maps segment, Gallo shows how a video app could work in dual-screen mode. Initially, the app runs on the right-hand screen only, with a video playing on it.

Gallo then expands the app to run on both screens at the same time, but instead of simply showing the video on both displays, the Surface Duo keeps playing the video on the left-hand screen, and displays the app’s suggested videos list on the right-hand screen.

“That way I can multi-task,” Gallo says. “I can watch the video, learn, and at the same time decide what I want to go and do next. This is allowing me to do two things at once, utilising the space.”

You can watch the two different demos in the side-by-side video comparison below (original on the left):

The Surface Duo is, of course, a long way from release, so Microsoft has plenty of time to iron out any kinks. Earlier this week, however, the keenly anticipated device was spotted in use on a packed commuter train.

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