The Duo 2's Glance Bar could be better. And bring back Peek Mode!

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Fellow Brit Zac Bowden, writing for WC, has been a hard core Surface Duo user since the beginning, so he knows his Duo from his err... mono! With all the Surface Duo 2 reviews out of the way (including my own), he's persisted using this second generation device and has a major complaint, one that I had thought was 'just me'. Read on for his mini-rant. And yes, as with most things Surface Duo, it's just software and can be fixed if Microsoft has the will.

Glance bar

From Zac's piece:

One of the stand-out new features on Microsoft's Surface Duo 2 is its clever "glance bar" that exists along the spine when the device is closed. It provides heads-up information when you're not using the device, which on paper is total no-brainer for a device like this. Unfortunately, the feature is basically useless for almost all the types of info you'd want displayed there.

I've been using Surface Duo 2 since it came out, and it's been fantastic. I love everything about this product, including the glance bar. But I just wish it would show me "more." In regard to notifications, right now the glance bar only shows you missed calls and SMS messages. It doesn't show anything else from your notifications shade. No WhatsApp, no Slack, no Outlook, nothing.

This really limits how useful the glance bar can be, because I don't SMS anyone, and people rarely call me in the year 2021. All of my communication happens thought instant messaging services like Telegram, WhatsApp, Slack, and Twitter. It's not happening through SMS. If I'm making or receiving a phone call, it's most likely through Slack or Skype. Not my Phone app.

I wish you could set the glance bar to show missed notifications for other apps. It'd also be great if you could set it so when a notification comes in, the contents of that message briefly run down the spine like a news ticker, so you can get an idea of what the notification is about in addition to which app it's coming from. So far, glance bar doesn't do this, but it would be infinitely more useful if it did.

In its current implementation, I have to open my device every time a notification comes in that isn't a phone call or SMS. And in the rare scenario where I do get an SMS, I still have to open it because the glance bar wasn't able to provide a brief ticker style message to inform me of what the notification was about.

Ah, so it wasn't just me then. During my review time with the Surface Duo 2, I kept looking (more like squinting) at the Glance bar and wondering why more wasn't happening there. Like Zac, I expected ticker display of incoming messages, multiple notification icons, etc. None of which materialised. Maybe it's just my minimalist setup, I thought, an install with more services loaded would surface more Glance bar notifications? Apparently not.

The Glance bar's existence is a side effect of the curved internal edges of the two screens, something which didn't exist on the original Surface Duo. If you wanted to know about a notification that had just come in on the original, you used 'Peek mode', opening the screens a smidgen and then a strip of information would get displayed. Sadly, Zac reports that:

...the Peek Mode feature that first shipped on Duo 1 is still here on Duo 2, but it no longer shows the app icons that you've missed notifications from. Duo 1 does this on Android 10, but it seems the feature has been removed on Android 11. 

It's all fixable in software, of course. If only Microsoft were mainly a software company... oh wait. In which case it's a matter of resources and how serious Microsoft is about this device. The entire Surface Duo series has a common theme based around software that's forever delayed and slightly behind where it needs to be. Sound familiar, Windows Phone fans?

Source / Credit: WC