Saturday, December 9, 2023

Microsoft’s Surface Duo gets a Windows-style refresh with Android 12L


Microsoft is finally updating its Surface Duo — ahem — duo to Android 12 this week. The company broke the news on its official Microsoft Devices Blog after previously committing to rolling out an update sometime this year. Android 12 was made generally available by Google in October 2021, while Android 12L hit Pixels in March.

The star of the show here is Android 12’s big visual refresh. Yup, Material You, dynamic color theming, and more are coming to the Surface Duo phones. The company as even throwing in four new wallpapers to highlight the refresh. However, Microsoft is going a step further by redesigning the Duo’s software so that it’ll look a lot like Windows 11. This is pretty obvious in that the system settings app and notification center now resemble Windows 11’s versions of those features, and there are a lot of fluent design (Microsoft’s design language) touches hidden in the company’s preinstalled apps. In other words, the Surface Duo and Duo 2 pair are becoming true Windows phones. Of course, this illusion disappears when you dip into third-party apps, but if you’re buying a Microsoft Duo, you’re almost certainly a superfan.


Other than the design refresh, the Duo also benefits from the standard Android 12 features. These include enhanced privacy via the new Privacy dashboard, notification and camera indicators, improved accessibility, and new conversation widgets for keeping track of your chats. One more Windows feature makes a jump here with the Surface Slim Pen 2’s new “pen menu.” Accessed by clicking on the top of the Pen, you’re able to quickly launch apps like OneNote just as you would on a Surface Pro.

Though Microsoft is a bit late to the Android 12L party (and Android 13 is already out to boot), the Surface Duo is a unique enough device that those who do like it would just be happy that it turns on. At the same time, Android 13 doesn’t offer enough over Android 12L that users will find themselves in the lurch. It was Android 12 that was the major update, and Duo users should be glad Microsoft is finally getting around to it.

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