What you need to know
- Microsoft has released Android 11 for the original Surface Duo.
- The update comes with enhanced features and apps for the Duo, as well as a new function for the Surface Slim Pen 2.
- Unlocked devices are being updated first, with AT&T-branded devices receiving it at a later date.
While we should expect the typical Android 11 goodies to arrive with the update, such as Conversation Bubbles, there are plenty of new features specific to the Surface Duo. This should make the device more like the Surface Duo 2, with an updated launcher, an optimized UI to take better advantage of the dual screens, and new pen features.
These are the new features that Surface Duo owners can expect from the update, as per Microsoft's release notes:
- Upgrades the Android operating system to Android 11. For more information about Android 11, see Android 11.
- Addresses scenarios outlined in the Android Security Bulletin—January 2022.
- New Surface Duo features
- Enabled launching of OneNote when clicking the top button on Surface Slim Pen 2. It requires Surface Slim Pen 2 to be paired with Surface Duo.
- Enabled in Surface Duo features, in Settings, to choose preference for answering phone calls when folded.
- Enabled in Surface Duo features, in Settings, to choose specific apps to automatically span across both screens when you open them.
- Optimized Quick Settings and notification width for portrait and landscape orientations.
- Adjust media volume directly from Quick Settings in any device mode.
- Use thumb mode in Microsoft SwiftKey now with all device modes and application states.
- Updated app drawer and folder design with improved drag-and-drop support.
- Refreshed Microsoft feed design with updated cards and new Microsoft Start widgets for News and Weather.
- Photos by OneDrive: New dual-screen enhanced experience for viewing and editing photos in the OneDrive app.
- Xbox Game Pass: Discovery and play games from the cloud with an on-screen controller. Some devices, accessories, and software sold separately. Additional fees and/or subscriptions required for some apps and features.
For Surface Duo owners that have held onto their devices, the update should give it a new lease on life.
To update the Surface, navigate to Settings > System > System update > Check for update. Microsoft recommends you connect to Wi-Fi to perform the update, and you should be prepared to restart your phone. The update should clock in at around 2.38GB in size.
Android 11 is rolling out to unlocked Surface Duo devices in North America and Europe. Microsoft says that AT&T branded devices should expect to receive the update soon following testing and final validation.
Of course, now we look to the next version of Android. With Android 12 already rolling out to plenty of smartphones, we're hoping we won't have to wait as long for that update. While we are more than likely to receive Android 12 on the Duo 2, the fate of the original Surface Duo is somewhat unknown. That said, Android 12L is expected to roll out to the best foldable phones this year, so hopefully, we'll learn more soon.
Double the fun
Multitasking made easier
The new Surface Duo 2 is Microsoft's latest dual-screen Android device, with plenty of upgrades like a new 5G chip, stereo speakers, more cameras, and a cool way to glance at notifications while the device is closed. The Microsoft Duo 2 just might be the best way to multitask.
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Derrek is a long-time Nokia and LG fanboy who loves astronomy, videography, and sci-fi movies. When he's not working, he's most likely working out or smoldering at the camera.