When LG launched its second screen case for the LG V50 ThinQ nearly three years ago, one of its advertised use cases was to use one of the two screens (usually the heavier main one) as a dedicated controller for games. That was actually an idea pushed by the first ASUS ROG Phone and its TwinView Dock but, like LG’s implementation, it required a separate accessory to work. With a built-in second screen, the Surface Duo is almost perfect for that scenario, and, after nearly two years, that is finally coming via the Xbox Game Pass app, a.k.a. xCloud game streaming.
There might still be some debate among mobile gamers around physical buttons and virtual ones but even those who prefer the latter will admit to one significant drawback. While touchscreen controls mean you won’t have to buy and carry around a separate gadget, it also means your thumbs will always be covering part of the screen all the time. Microsoft teased the solution when it first revealed the Surface Duo but it is only now that the first visible signs of that feature have appeared.
The latest beta version of the Xbox Game Pass app, which is the app used to stream games to supported Android phones, brought support for dual-screen devices exactly like the Surface Duo. This turns the bottom screen, depending on which way you hold it, into a dedicated space for touch screen controls, leaving the top screen unobstructed. Of course, this requires that the Xbox game itself supports touch screen controls and, given what Xbox cloud streaming is meant to be, some of those thankfully do.
This almost makes the Surface Duo the perfect “Xbox portable”, at least for those who don’t mind using on-screen controls instead of a more familiar game controller for Xbox owners. Windows Central says that developers can create their own layouts to better fit their game and some titles might even support the phone’s motion sensors as additional input. The device’s older processor won’t even be a bottleneck here since all the heavy processing is happening remotely.
Of course, the bottleneck will be the data connection, which is capped to 4G LTE on the Surface Duo. This feature, fortunately, is still in beta and there might be plenty of time to get it ready for the launch of a 5G-capable Surface Duo 2.