Microsoft's 2019 Surface event added new faces to the Surface catalogue such as the Surface Pro X, Surface Earbuds, Surface Duo, and Surface Neo. The latter two immediately caught the attention of the tech industry due to the unique dual-display configuration. Another equally notable feature was Windows 10X and the Wonder Bar functionality. It appears Apple's Touch Bar on the Macbook Pro will be facing some competition in 2020.
When the manufacturer debuted its annual product refresh as expected, the usual upgrades for the Surface Pro and Surface Laptop were not that groundbreaking. However, when the new operating system was presented on stage, it offered something fresh for Windows users. The first device to have it on board will be the Surface Neo.
With the addition of an optional magnetic keyboard accessory that roughly covers half of any of the two touchscreens. While owners can technically make use of the virtual on-screen keyboard, those who want improved productivity normally depend on physical keys. In addition to wirelessly charging when attached to the Surface Neo, it can function as a Bluetooth input device when detached. Nevertheless, the Windows 10X truly shines when the Wonder Bar is activated.
Once the user connects the keyboard accessory, depending on where it sits, the display adapts accordingly. If it is on the bottom half, the exposed upper section becomes a versatile touchscreen control centre for various functions, the bigger space means it can do more than the MacBook's Touch Bar. When the keyboard is shifted upwards, the lower half turns into a virtual trackpad much like a traditional laptop.
"Apps using CompactOverlayView for always-on-top mini views like picture-in-picture, or MediaTransportControl for background audio playback, will automatically be placed into the Wonder Bar, for seamless and natural peripheral multitasking," explains a Microsoft blog post. Furthermore, developers who want to test how Windows 10X works can do so with an emulator provided by the company.
The Surface Neo is scheduled to launch later this year along with the Surface Duo (a dual-display Android smartphone from Microsoft). Perhaps the 2020 Surface event will have more on the Wonder Bar and how it stacks up against Apple's Touch Bar system.