Microsoft’s Foldable Surface Device Will Reportedly Run Android Apps

Posted on June 24, 2019 by Mehedi Hassan in Hardware, Microsoft, Microsoft Surface with 30 Comments

Microsoft’s foldable Surface device has been talked about for a long while. The device, codenamed Centaurus, was reportedly shown off to employees inside the company earlier this month. We already know quite a lot about the device, including the new lightweight version of Windows called Windows Core OS that powers the device.

And now, Forbes is reporting some new details on the device. The publication received some interesting tidbits on the product from IHS Markit, based on supply chain info. We are not quite sure how credible the reports are, so take them with a grain of salt.

Forbes reports that Microsoft’s foldable Surface will be able to run Android apps. There isn’t a lot of information as to how Microsoft will achieve this, but the device will apparently be able to run Android apps. That would require Microsoft to build its own store for Android apps, which may require Android developers to manually put their apps from the Google Play Store on Microsoft’s own Android store.

Microsoft tried putting Android apps on Windows Phones in the past, and that didn’t work too well. And if history is anything to go by, I have a good feeling this won’t be executed well, either.

Forbes also reports that the new device will be based on a 10nm Lakefield chip from Intel, and have two separate 9-inch displays with an aspect ratio of 4:3 (so it won’t be a single, foldable display). It will also come with always-on-connectivity.

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Comments (30)

30 responses to “Microsoft’s Foldable Surface Device Will Reportedly Run Android Apps”

  1. MadsM

    "Microsoft tried putting Android apps on Windows Phones in the past, and that didn’t work too well."

    Or it worked too well, depending on who you ask.

  2. Pungkuss

    What's interesting here is the 'why'. Is this being done from a position of fear? Are Android apps on the Chromebooks successful? Google claimed at IO that the adoption rate has been great, and people used Android apps on Chromebooks way more than they anticipated. The apps are just phone apps with all their limitations and people still love them. Maybe Microsoft is trying to remove one of the competitive advantages of chromeOS. They may only need a few apps (Snapchat, tik-tok, Instagram, YouTube) to keep the kids who have been using Chromebooks in school from thinking that windows is insufficient.

    • kennyb

      In reply to Pungkuss:

      I think they're doing it because they have to. Devices like this absolutely need an library of touch-first apps that people use. The current UWP app store is woefully thin, and developers have already invested in Android apps that work pretty well (though they don't always look great on Android tablets).

      It's a smart and necessary move if Windows as a tablet OS has any future.

      • skane2600

        In reply to kennyb:

        But does there really need to be a Windows tablet OS in the future, particularly if it's just another Android device? Aren't sales of tablets in general and Android tablets in particular on the decline?

        • kennyb

          In reply to skane2600:

          Whether the world *needs* Windows tablets is a bigger question, but 2-in-1s have been Microsoft's vision for a long time, and that vision doesn't work without the tablet half.

          I'm a longtime Surface user, and just got an iPad Pro for father's day. I'm telling you, it's a night-and-day difference between between Windows tablet mode and iOS. You could argue that the Windows UI is to blame, but I think the bigger factor is the lack of apps. As much as I wanted a single PC companion device that does everything--light work to heavy media consumption--the Surface just wasn't cutting it as a tablet. It's amazing that they got a full-blown PC into something not much bigger than an iPad, but the lack of apps just killed it for me. I could live with the jankiness that comes with using a full-blown version of Windows, but I *need* my apps. That's why I think it makes a lot of sense to incorporate some kind of Android runtime into Windows Lite.

          • skane2600

            In reply to kennyb:

            IMO a Windows 2-in-1 is basically a full Windows cake with a thin tablet frosting. But as the failure of the RT devices and UWP proved, the tablet frosting isn't viable on it's own.

            Unless there were some as yet unknown killer feature that was unique to a Lite Windows, the result would just be another run-of-the-mill Android tablet.

    • skane2600

      In reply to Pungkuss:

      Naturally Google is going to say positive things about their products, but I wouldn't draw any definitive conclusions from that. Was there a surge in Chomebook purchases when the ability to run Android apps was made available? It's one thing to take advantage of an added capability to a device you already own, it's quite another to make a buying decision based on that added feature.

  3. docpaul

    I called it a long time ago that there is no way Microsoft is launching Andromeda or this without Android apps--and got down-voted for some reason.

  4. aretzios

    It seems to be a very good answer to Chrome and Chromebooks. However, there are various solutions that allow Android apps to work in Windows, so I am not going to be as pessimistic as Paul. If push comes to shove, Microsoft can acquire the code from third-party vendors. However, this would not work very well if Microsoft develops this just for Centaurus. Microsoft should allow all Win10 machines to run Android apps (and have access to the Play Store).

    Android apps do not work very well in Chrome, but Google keeps improving the system. For example, Android apps did not have access to SD cards before, but they do have it now. Eventually, given enough effort, Google would manage to have Android apps work well in Chrome. The problem that Google has is that Chrome is poorly adapted to tablets. It is a mostly a desktop OS. This provides an opening to Microsoft, if it can exploit it well.

  5. Lordbaal

    Or it can just be a duel boot.

  6. skane2600

    I'd have to agree with gardner on the premium side: If one wants to run Android apps, the best way to do it is on an Android device. What value is added by just slapping the word "Microsoft" or "Surface" on such a device? For the most part Android devices are a commodity and does Microsoft really want to dive into that market?

    • Jorge Garcia

      In reply to skane2600:

      I am back from hibernation to wholeheartedly disagree with you on this subject again :) I feel that a lot of people own Windows laptops "by default"...simply because it is the most predominant and inexpensive laptop product in say, best buy. So I absolutely think that your average joanna would love to be able to run an instance of "phone-y" Instagram in a separate window on her desktop (even if it was shaped like a floating phone) while typing out a term paper on a real instance of MS Word in the main window. Yes, I know there are many (clunky) ways to accomplish this already, but normal people don't like delving into exe's like blue stacks, etc. And of course you could simply maintain a fully charged tablet or device next to your pc to use as a second "android app" screen (as I have done for years), but - especially for the laptop experience - it would be a ton more convenient to have it all available on the same desktop, in separate floating windows, accessible by mouse pointer.

    • SvenJ

      In reply to skane2600: That's true if you want to run Android apps on a phone. If you want to run them on a bigger device, tablet say, your options aren't that great. But then Android apps aren't that great on tablets/laptops, which might be your chicken and egg reason for the lack of good Android tablets. Note Google just left that market. They aren't leaving the Chrome runs Android market though. So maybe the choice will be Chrome running Android poorly, or Windows running Android poorly. Not sure what problem we are trying to solve here.

  7. MarkPow

    I may be remembering this incorrectly but I thought putting Android apps on Windows Phones actually worked too well and was shutdown as the fear was that this would cannibalise Windows Phone apps?

    If UWP is dead then this wouldn't be a concern anymore.

    • jchampeau

      In reply to MarkPow:

      I think you're remembering correctly. When the Android bridge thing was canceled, I thought to myself that this was Microsoft at its worst. Practicing protectionism instead of doing right by customers.

    • IanYates82

      In reply to MarkPow:


      It worked really well, to the point where if released then it would've meant no one would write native Windows Phone apps.

      Microsoft took the user-hostile option unfortunately. Great platform, but the lack of apps was killing it. YouTube being the first that really stung since Google dug in their heels about clones, to the point where they banned an excellent client that Microsoft developed. Letting us load Android apps on there might've given it some life, particularly during the period where so many Android security bugs were found and patches were not forthcoming. Microsoft had that part nailed.

      Coulda, woulda, shoulda...

    • SimJeff

      In reply to MarkPow:

      I thought it was "too well" as well. Sadly I thought they still should have done it. Same reasons as the new edge exists. Keep all my credentials in one bucket, and they get to own the bucket.

  8. PeterC

    That size. I’m not entirely sure about that size. I was hoping more “pocketable” when folded. I guess it depends on the new UI it comes with.....

  9. Stooks

    Exactly who wants this? Fail day 1.

  10. gardner

    You know, if you want a device that runs android apps, get one that runs android.

    We (developers) dont need additional non-standard implementations of the android api with different bugs, and which wont track new API features as they are released..

    Otherwise, this will be a platforms that probably doesn't support the full api, just some subset that implements the apis necessary for running currently powerful and popular apps.

  11. Bats

    Finally! The promise made by Paul Thurrott that Android would be operable on the Windows platform will hopefully soon be kept....hopefully. Albeit, the functionality isn't Windows 10 as Thurrott gleefully stated, a couple of years, but it will be in some form of Windows.

  12. dontbe evil

    just add a real phone (call/text) support to windows on arm

  13. X911ty12

    I'd buy a Windows Phone again if it legit supported Android apps.

  14. Salvador Jesús Romero Castellano

    "[...]and that didn’t work too well. And if history is anything to go by, I have a good feeling this won’t be executed well, either."

    Adding to others comments pointing out that apparently this worked out precisely too well, I'd like to say that the second part is an opinion. And that perhaps you mix too much opinions with actual information, Mehedi. I'd prefer to have opinions and feelings in editorial articles.


  15. codymesh

    "Microsoft tried putting Android apps on Windows Phones in the past, and that didn’t work too well."

    lol. Pretty sure Paul is on the record multiple times saying that it got killed because it worked too well.

  16. igor engelen

    Let's be honest. It's the only way for microsoft to get some grip on the mobile market. There's an entire eco system available already and they have a lot of experience writing Android apps. Just like 'upgrading' Chromium, this is a logical next step.