Microsoft loves its Insider testing programs. From Windows to Azure the company offers a way for its users to help add their feedback to various software and services Microsoft provides and it looks like the Surface Duo platform may be joining the trend.
The folks over at Windows Central are highlighting a discovery from Twitter user Gustave Monce which hints at a “Surface Insider Program”. Based on a screenshot Monce shared via Twitter, the latest update for the Surfac Duo unlocked a new reference on the Settings page that would enable users to opt-in or out of Preview Rings for potential future builds of the customized-android OS Microsoft is using to fuel its latest smartphone efforts.
— Gustave Monce (@gus33000) November 30, 2022
In addition to the preview “rings” reference there is also mention of “feature flags” which presumably work in a similar release fashion as Windows which would allow devices to implement A/B level testing on the Surface Duo.
Further validating the theory that a Surface Duo Insider program may be headed to the masses is Windows Central’s senior editor Zac Bowden relatively reliable sources within Microsoft have discussed using a similarly gated internal Insider program for Duo engineers.
While this may be Microsoft first jaunt into creating an Insider program for an Android handheld, they would be joining more established players in the market who already deploy similar testing methods such as Samsung and OnePlus.
Microsoft also hosts several beta programs through the Google Play Store via its apps such as Edge, the Microsoft Launcher, Phone Link, Office, and Microsoft Defender.
With Android 12L relatively in the rearview window for Microsoft and most Surface Duo owners, the company looks to have a clear enough runway to start delivering more one-off feature sets via this new Insider program such as a cloud-based Continumm option, one-handed mode, and Pen support on the lock screen according to Bowden.
An added benefit of a potential Insider program for Surface Duo users is an elongated support channel that would help owners of the original Surface Duo keep up on some Android and Microsoft features well beyond its slated three-year roadmap.