You would think this article is from a decade or two ago, but no. It’s really about dual-screen and CAD software using dual-screens… but not like you’re used to.
This week, Microsoft released the preview SDK for their dual-screen Surface Duo, with the Window 10X version coming next month. Along with this, they’re introducing new web standard proposals for web developers to create dual-screen experiences that run on Android and Windows 10X.
Now, dual-screen mode for CAD applications isn’t anything new – we’ve been able to use multiple screens for years. It allows us to use one screen for the application and keep the other apps, toolbars, and distraction to the other. However, while CAD apps are able to make use of two monitors slapped together, they don’t have a dual-screen experience — this is what makes the Windows 10X SDK preview quite something, especially when you consider how it could affect your workflow in and across 3D CAD applications.
Zac Bowden took to Twitter to share three examples of the UI/UX. In the first video, notice the (somewhat) fluid and adaptive nature of the navigation and app switching.
In the second, he shows a phonecall and messaging, but notice the overlay and how elements move out of the way of others.
Here's the lock screen UI with some phone-call action thrown in. pic.twitter.com/ERDkMl7cS3— Zac Bowden (@zacbowden) January 22, 2020
It may not seem like much but, according to the the patent published by Microsoft last October, there’s much more planned for dual-screen UI/UX. In one portion describing improved efficiency, it states:
The example techniques may reduce an amount of time and/or resources (e.g., processor, memory, network bandwidth) that are consumed to provide access to information to a user. The example embodiments may increase efficiency of a computing device that is used to provide access to information to a user. The example techniques may increase user efficiency (e.g., by reducing a number of steps that a user takes to obtain access to information and/or to provide input to an application).”
According to Microsoft’s Windows 10X announcement, “Windows 10X will be available on dual-screen and foldable devices starting in the fall of 2020”. That may seem a long time away — then add time for CAD software to catch up. Or, it could be that early access to the SDK gives them enough time to prepare for the future of a more interactive, user-centric dual-screen experience. After all, in that same Twitter thread, Zac reported that Microsoft Edge and Outlook already support Windows 10X dual-screen with adaptive UI.
Now, can you imagine a user-experience like this for SOLIDWORKS, Onshape, Fusion 360 or the like? Or, better yet, within the applications themselves?