A series of patents and rumours indicate Microsoft is almost certainly working on a phone with a folding screen, though we have not yet received any confirmation from the company itself. That changed this week, when someone from Microsoft Research's Asian wing referred to the device.
In response to a user query about why Cortana can't invoke third-party apps via voice commands, the company's account on Zhihu explained this was largely due to the lack of permissions available to Cortana on Android, and then proceeded to convey higher hopes for Cortana's performance on the as-yet-unannounced Surface Phone.
The full text of the representative's reply, translated by MSPU, can be found below:
First of all, Siri and Bixby, two intelligent assistants installed in the smartphones, and Cortana is a third-party application, permissions support may be embarrassing. Windows Phone users may know that Cortana in Windows Phone was better than the Cortana app, Windows Phone Cortana was a lot easier to use. Microsoft Cortana (Xiao Na) is a cross-platform smart assistant, available across all devices including PCs and smartphone, trying to do more like WeChat Noda. For the smart assistant, permissions is a good thing, looking forward to the perfect performance of the Surface Phone (although Hana do not know will not be a surface phone). Of course, as a smart assistant, the pace of development is still relatively slow, but Cortana team will be working hard to make the assistant better. Last year in 3rd-anniversary celebration, Cortana saw all new features and support, three years is not a long time, but the move on this road Hana never forget, Microsoft Cortana team must live up to expectations.
The post was soon amended with the text in parentheses to add that Xiao Na (Cortana's name in China) doesn't know whether there will be a Surface Phone, perhaps in an attempt to downplay further conjecture regarding the fabled device.
Microsoft is expected to reveal the Surface Phone sometime this year. With the barrage of new patents related to the device that have been published by the USPTO, it's likely that timeline will hold. The phone is expected to have a dual-screen display with a foldable hinge, and will be powered by ARM processors. Unlike Windows 10 Mobile devices, however, it is rumoured to run a full version of Windows 10, with the adaptive UI shell facilitating its transformation between different form factors.