What you need to know
- An ex-Microsoft developer ported Android 13 onto the Surface Duo.
- Microsoft has not shipped a major update to the Surface Duo since Android 12L came out in September 2022.
- The independent developer had to add several features to Android 13 since the operating system does not recognize the postures of the Surface Duo natively.
Microsoft hasn’t released a major update, or arguably even a minor update, to the Surface Duo in about nine months. The foldable still runs Android 12L despite the fact that most devices are preparing to receive Android 14 later this summer. One ex-Microsoft developer took it upon himself to upgrade the Surface Duo.
Thai Nguyen has a test build of Android 13 for Surface Duo in the works. It isn’t just a simple flash or port either. Android 13 does not know how to handle the postures of the Surface Duo. That means Nguyen had to put in extra effort to make sure Android 13 on the Duo handles the displays and postures of the device.
Nguyen has been hard at work on this project for some time now. We covered the first video of the Surface Duo running Android 13 last month. Since then, Nguyen has shared a test build with YouTuber and Surface enthusiast Shane Craig. Performance of the Duo is surprisingly smooth, almost too smooth for an unofficial port. It begs the question why Microsoft didn’t do this themselves.
The port isn’t perfect. For example, the bezel of the Duo covers up some content on the screen. Nguyen’s project makes the Surface Duo believe that it’s a Pixel device. That provides a clean experience of Android that is similar to what people will see on the Pixel Fold. Since the Pixel Fold is a single-screen foldable without a hinge down the middle, Android 13 doesn’t play nicely with some parts of the Duo’s design.
Android 12L shipped to the Surface Duo and Surface Duo 2 in September 2022. Microsoft has not updated those devices since, at least with any meaningful new features or versions of Android. The company hasn’t mentioned plans to release Android 13 or Android 14 to the Duo either.
Nguyen’s project serves a chance to ask “what could have been” when it comes to the Duo. If builds are stable and feature-rich, we may see a way for tech-savvy users to install Android 13 onto the Surface Duo, albeit unofficially.