Microsoft has two high-profile dual-screen devices scheduled to launch later this year — the Microsoft Surface Neo will be one of the first dual-screen computers to ship with Windows 10X, and the Surface Duo is a dual-screen Android smartphone.
But neither will be very useful if developers don’t start creating apps and experiences tailored to dual-screen devices. So Microsoft is launching a series of SDKs (software development kits) aimed at Windows, Android, and web developers.
In a nutshell, they all aim to encourage developers to think across multiple displays when creating apps, websites, or other experiences — and they provide some tools for building and testing dual-screen apps.
In a nutshell, the idea is to think beyond the idea of a single rectangle that can be used to display everything. Apps and websites may be able to extend across both screens, offer different content on each screen, or use the second screen as a “companion” pane or to provide more details about what’s shown on the other display.
Microsoft also notes that by default, apps will launch on a single screen and that it’ll be up to users to choose when to have an app span across both screens.
The company is also encouraging developer to support all possible screen orientations, as well as multiple input types including touch, typing, and pen.
Other suggestions include support for dragging and dropping content between screens, adding support for picture-in-picture views, and adopting support for multiple instances, allowing users to run different instances of the same app on each screen.
And the company is cognizant of one of the key differences between dual-screen devices and those with foldable displays — the gap in the center. Microsoft suggests that while the seam between the two screens might not be all that visually distracting for some apps, it can cut straight down the center of content in a troubling way for others. So developers might want to work around the gap by ensuring that certain content is moved clearly to the left or right (or top or bottom) screen when viewing a single app that spans both displays. for example.
You can find more suggestions for developers in Microsoft’s documentation, which also starts to paint a picture of Microsoft’s vision for dual-screen and foldable computers and phones.
While Microsoft’s upcoming Surface Neo and Duo will likely be two of the highest-profile dual screen devices coming this year, other companies including Dell and Lenovo are also working on dual-screen and foldable computers that will likely run Windows 10X one day, and which will certainly be able to take advantage of web content optimized for multi-display devices.