Microsoft’s chief product designer, Panos Panay, has been dreaming of a pocketable Surface for years. Panay previously described an unreleased 7-inch Surface Mini as “like a Moleskine” and “awesome,” but Microsoft decided to cancel the product as it wasn’t really that differentiated compared to other smaller tablets four years ago. That hasn’t stopped Panay from dreaming, though. Microsoft has been working on a new mysterious “pocketable” Surface device, codenamed Andromeda, for at least two years now. We’ve only seen patents and mocked up images of what this dual-screen device could be, but Microsoft seems to be perfecting this unusual hardware.
“It’s absolutely my baby,” explains Microsoft’s Panos Panay in an interview withThe Verge. “We will invent and we will create when products are right. We can’t bring new categories into the world and not be a place where customers need it.” That need for a new category is the missing piece of this pocketable Surface idea. It’s not clear if there’s a market for such a device, or whether Microsoft will be able to convince consumers to carry both a smartphone and this pocketable PC. Microsoft needs a truly unique approach to it, much like the Surface Pro is more than just a tablet, Surface Studio is more than just an all-in-one PC, and the new Surface Headphones are more than just regular headphones.
“I’m not talking about just the hardware, I’m talking about the whole thing,” explains Panay. “What it means to you, how it gives people the opportunity to be the best that they can be or transforms something they don’t do already. I think being fair about that as a product person is important.”
So will Microsoft get there for a pocketable Surface? “I think there’s a lot of new form factors that are coming in the future,” says Panay.