What you’ll want to know
- The Android 11 update for the Surface Duo is now available.
- Approximately 2.38GB of storage space is required for the update, which is currently available.
- Auto app spanning, a new Photos app, UI changes, and bug fixes are all included in this update.
- As of February 1, the AT&T-branded model will also be upgraded to Android 11.
Despite the promise of regular updates, the original Surface Duo has received little in the way of significant fixes or improvements since its release. The company’s last update to even mention stability was back in June, and since then, they’ve only released monthly security patches to keep customers safe.
However, after a very long wait, Android 11 is finally available for the Surface Duo. Android 11 was actually released back in September, which doesn’t sound too bad until you realize that it was September 2020 at the time of the announcement. Android has now reached version 12, which is being gradually rolled out to devices by various OEMs.
The update brings Surface Duo closer to being on par with Surface Duo 2, which launched with Android 11 as its operating system.
Many UI improvements are included in the Android 11 update, including an expanded notification shade, updated Launcher widgets, new volume and brightness controls, improved app folders, and a revamped Settings layout. It also includes new features such as auto app spanning for user-selected apps, a new Photos app (based on OneDrive), and enhanced support for the Surface Pen, which can now be used in Outlook as well as to markup photographs.
Users can now launch OneNote by pressing the top button on the Surface Pen, just as they can with the Surface Duo 2 following a recent December update.
A new operating system and firmware for the Surface Duo also bring additional stability, gesture, and touch improvements that should help to improve the overall performance and user experience, according to Microsoft.
Here’s what Microsoft has to say about their official changelog:
- It is necessary to upgrade to Android 11 in order to use this application.
- In this release, we address the scenarios described in the Android Security Bulletin—January 2022.
- When the top button on the Surface Slim Pen 2 is pressed, the OneNote application is launched. Surface Duo requires the use of a Surface Slim Pen 2 in order to function properly.
- When enabled in Surface Duo features, in Settings, you can select your preferred method of answering phone calls when the Surface Duo is folded.
- Surface Duo features, found in the Settings menu, allow you to select specific apps that will automatically span across both screens when you open them.
- Quick Settings and notification width have been optimized for both portrait and landscape orientations.
- In any device mode, you can adjust the media volume directly from the Quick Settings menu.
- Thumb mode is now available in Microsoft SwiftKey, and it supports all device modes and application states.
- Improved drag-and-drop support in the app drawer and folders, thanks to an updated design.
- Microsoft feed design has been updated to include new cards as well as new Microsoft Start widgets for News and Weather.
- Photographs by OneDrive: A new dual-screen enhanced experience for viewing and editing photographs in the OneDrive app has been introduced.
- Game Pass for Xbox One allows you to discover and play games from the cloud using an on-screen controller. Some devices, accessories, and software are available for purchase separately. Some applications and features require the payment of additional fees and/or subscriptions.
- You can provide feedback to Microsoft by going to Settings, selecting About, and then selecting Give feedback to Microsoft.
Follow these steps to obtain the latest version for yourself:
- Connect to a Wi-Fi network if you haven’t already.
- On the Surface Duo‘s home screen, go to the Settings option.
- Select System from the drop-down menu.
- Select System Update from the drop-down menu.
- Select Check for updates from the drop-down menu.
- Select the option Restart now.
The update is currently being rolled out to Surface Duo models that have not been unlocked. The update for the AT&T handset is usually available a couple of weeks after the initial release. In addition, as of 5 p.m. ET on February 1, 2022, the AT&T variant will now receive Android 11.
For those who took the financial risk to purchase the Surface Duo, Android 11 is a welcome upgrade. However, all eyes are now on Android 12L, which is better optimized for the Duo’s dual-screen experience. The official APIs for app developers to target foldables such as the Surface Duo 1 and Surface Duo 2 are the real value of that operating system, even if it brings improved features such as a dual-screen notification shade.
It has been reported by sources familiar with Microsoft’s plans that the company is currently tinkering with internal beta builds of Android 12L, but that no official release date has been set at this time. It’s also unclear whether that version will be made available for the Surface Duo 1, despite Microsoft’s promise to provide three years of OS updates for both Surface Duos.
Android 12L is not expected to be made available to the general public until sometime during the first half of 2022.
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