As Samsung and Huawei attempt to re-engineer their foldable phones so that they don't break so easily once they limp to market, we're left with smartphones with tack-on screens, laptops, and convertible or so-called 2-in-1 tablets. Microsoft seems to have mastered the folding aspect of its hardware with its Surface lineup of PCs, but it may be stretching to produce a new "foldable" tablet that will run, of all things, Android apps.
The speculation comes from Forbes contributor Brooke Crothers who received a note from research house IHS Markit. The details come from "supply chain" sources, but there's also a lot of ambiguity that's been dropped on our laps. For example:
The foldable Surface is expected to have two 9-inch screens with a 4:3 aspect ratio...
Crothers hedges by saying that IHS did not specifically specify whether this tablet would have flexible panels, but if we're really honest with ourselves, this is most likely the company's "Courier" notebook concept come to life. The first iteration was revealed to the public just about a decade ago, but was shelved shortly thereafter. More recently, The Verge reported that a Courier-esque device, internally called Centaurus, was exhibited to Microsoft employees as a future Surface product.
Both concepts appear to use rigid displays and do not make it possible for them to be combined into a single unit, though it would be awesome if they did. As it is, though, incorporating flexible panels into the design would make little sense from a utility standpoint, especially if that hinge space is sticking around.
More worrying, there's the following mention that the device:
Runs Android Apps and iCloud service in Windows 10
It's entirely possible that these integrations could happen down the line — especially with iCloud as iTunes sunsets — but as far as the current situation goes, all Microsoft has to claim for Android app compatibility is its Your Phone app, which allows app mirroring for a very limited list of phones. Separately, the company had tried to build an Android app porting tool for developers to support Windows 10. That effort, known as Project Astoria, was canceled in 2016. Considering Microsoft's track record on cross-compatibility and the general duress that the notion of dual-booting has undergone, we're in highly doubtful territory here.
Some slightly less controvertible spec items for this foldable tablet include an Intel's lightweight, Atom-powered 10nm Lakefield SoC, options for LTE or 5G cellular connectivity, and Windows Core, or "Windows Lite," what's supposedly a stripped-down version of the operating system with its primary developmental motivation being dual-screen tablets.
IHS is targeting this tablet for launch within the first half of next year, perhaps with enough lead time to convince the education sector to replace their Chromebooks and acquire something new.