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Microsoft Surface Duo reportedly getting Android 12L despite missing Android 11

Microsoft has failed on its promise to deliver the Android 11 update to its first Surface Duo foldable before the end of 2021. The update was already over a year late, with Android 12 launching in October 2021 to Pixels and other Android phones. Now, a report from the Microsoft-focused tech blog Windows Central claims that Microsoft will deliver the Android 11 update soon, with an Android 12L update following shortly in lieu of Android 12 sometime in 2022.

The Surface Duo launched with Android 10 in 2020, with Microsoft promising to deliver two years of updates. While other, more mainstream Android phone and tablet companies have pushed out Android 11 and even Android 12 to larger fleets of devices, the company has yet to deliver a single major update to the original Duo. It did launch Duo 2 in 2021 with Android 11, but none of the most useful improvements have trickled down to the original Duo yet.

The Android 12L interface on a variety of tablets.

The first Duo was plagued with outdated hardware and software at the start. While outdated hardware is unfixable once shipped, Microsoft really could have done more on the software end by pushing out Android 11. Aside from the small privacy and security tweaks, Google brings yearly, Android 11 also added some adjustments for foldable including a hinge sensor which would have improved the app experience.

An update long overdue

Windows Central reports that the Android 11 update, while late, should be launching in the coming weeks. At the same time, Microsoft is said to be skipping Android 12 for the tablet and foldable focused Android 12L. While Android 12 is a  large visual overhaul on its own, Android 12L is a far more encompassing update for large screen devices. Google touts a refreshed interface that takes advantage of the size of the canvas you have on hand. From a dual-pane lock screen to a dual-pane notification center, an improved split-screen experience, a new dock, and more, it’s easy to see why Microsoft would choose to go for it over regular Android 12.

That said, this isn’t a great start for Microsoft’s Android-powered mobile section. The company’s former mobile endeavor — Windows Phone — was similarly dogged with update issues despite being supported by the company’s in-house team. It’s also worth noting that Microsoft hasn’t said anything either confirming or denying the update schedule. It may take a lot of effort to test and push out an update, but it is considerably less time to pen a blog or forum post, advising customers about the issue as Google did with its delayed Pixel 6 update.

It’s also ridiculous that the late update being in January 2022 discussed is Android 11 which was released in 2020, where companies like Samsung are rolling out Android 12 to the Galaxy S10 as we speak. Hopefully, with the Surface Duo 2, Microsoft will do better.

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Michael Allison
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