Microsoft is showing off ideas for its upcoming dual-screen devices that will run Windows 10X. Normally we don’t talk much about things like design UI at ET, but a look at recent history shows how important this can be. One reason Android didn’t take much market share in tablets compared with Apple is that Google did very little to encourage app developers to support larger screens. Chrome OS has had similar problems.
Microsoft hopes to avoid this issue by giving developers examples of how to take advantage of a dual-screen device.
There are some interesting possibilities here for data display. The panel can canvas (one image across the entire panel), or display a portion of text highlighted on one panel on the other. Content can be displayed in a two-page book format, a “dual view” where two applications sit side-by-side, or a companion pane where the right-hand panel displays buried options while the left panel focuses on content.
Microsoft’s new “Introduction to dual-screen devices” discusses these concepts, how dual-panel devices differ from single displays, and what sorts of design principles will work best on the devices it expects to come to market. There are also some standards and ideas for the Surface Duo — the dual-screen Android device Microsoft is bringing to market. The document is mostly oriented towards developers, but it’s written in friendly language and gives an overview of what kind of products Microsoft thinks developers should create, along with tips for how to support multiple tablet orientations and keep the UI usable.
For those concerned about app elements spanning the seam, Microsoft specifically addresses this:
An app can also appear across both screens, which is known as a spanned layout. By default, the app will act as if it is being displayed across a larger screen. You can modify your existing app layouts to accommodate the seam between the two screens, or you can go further and design your app using layout controls specifically created to take full advantage of dual-screen devices.
Honestly, I’m still dubious on whether folding screens will prove to have real staying power. I think a great deal depends on how much they cost and how robust they can be compared with more traditional displays. The launch of the Galaxy Fold didn’t exactly impress anyone, but Motorola will have a chance to prove they can do it better in just a few weeks.
I’m genuinely curious what readers think on this — do folding displays make sense on laptops and tablets, or are they more of a fad?
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