Microsoft to developers: Here's how you can start making apps for Surface Duo, Neo

Microsoft promises developers its dual-screen Surface devices won't mean chucking out code.

Foldable future: How Microsoft hopes to define a new hardware category with Surface Neo and Duo ZDNet's Larry Dignan and TechRepublic's Bill Detwiler discuss why Microsoft's Windows-based Surface Neo and Android-based Surface Duo are just a glimpse at the dual-screen, foldable devices that will redefine the laptop, tablet, and phone markets. Read more: https://zd.net/2oEa5Zj

Microsoft's Android Surface Duo and the Windows 10X Surface Neo are still a year away from retail, but the company is already starting to woo developers for the all-important task of making Android and Windows apps for its new dual-screen hardware.

The company has also invited developers to get in touch if they want to "adopt early" by sending an email to dualscreendev@microsoft.com

Microsoft hasn't stated whether it will offer developer devices, only that developers can learn more and that it will share more details in early 2020.

"Today, we are going to share how developers can unlock this new era of mobile creativity," writes Kevin Gallo, corporate vice president of the Windows Developer Platform.

SEE: How to build a successful developer career (free PDF)

Gallo breaks dual-screen app development down into two stages. First, developers need to ensure their websites and apps work on Android phones, the Android Surface Duo, the Windows 10X Surface Neo and other dual-screen PCs, as well as traditional Windows 10 laptops. 

The Android devices include support for web apps and apps from the Google Play Store. The Windows devices include web, UWP and Win32 apps. Second, developers need to "embrace dual-screen experiences". 

In the first stage, regarding existing code, Gallo says developers "will not have to start anew on these devices". Microsoft wants to make it as easy as possible for existing sites and apps to work well on dual-screen devices.

Besides the Surface Neo, developers will hopefully be building apps for dual-screen and foldable devices running Windows 10X from Windows partners, including ASUS, Dell, HP, and Lenovo.

"Developers will be able to use existing investments and tools for Web, UWP, and Win32 on these devices," said Gallo. 

The Android-powered Surface Duo might even be an easier target for developers, at least for single-screen apps from Android smartphones.

"Your current websites and Android apps will continue to work and run on a single screen," wrote Gallo. Developers should be able to use the same tools they do now.  

Gallo said Microsoft is in the process of "identifying key postures and layouts across dual-screen and foldable PCs so that you can take advantage of both".

SEE: What is Windows 10X? Everything you need to know about Microsoft's dual-screen OS

Gallo also offers a high-level overview of how Microsoft will help developers tailor apps both for Windows and Android dual-screen devices. 

"For native app developers, our goal is to develop a common model layered onto existing platform-specific tools and frameworks for Windows and Android," he wrote. 

"Of course, APIs to access this model will be tailored to the developer platform for each operating system. For example, you can use APIs to enhance your apps to use dual-screen capabilities and features like the 360-degree hinge." 

af6a09e7c72e12525d8cb6226dd8780a.png

Microsoft says there are two stages for optimizing apps for the new Android and Windows dual-screen devices.

Image: Microsoft