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Microsoft’s quirky Surface Dial puck just got way more useful

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Microsoft has confirmed that the Surface Dial will eventually be compatible with other Surface devices.

Last week, Microsoft announced a Bluetooth-powered smart puck called the Surface Dial, which adds additional functionality to the new Surface Studio all-in-one PC. But the company has since revealed that the Dial will also work with the Surface Book and Surface Pro 4 – eventually.

Speaking to The Verge, Terry Myerson, Microsoft’s Head of Devices and Windows, said that the company is working on a firmware update that will let Surface Book and Surface Pro 4 owners use the Surface Dial on their device’s display. Of course, you’ll still have to fork out $99.99 for the luxury of owning a Dial.

The Surface Dial is an entirely new product from Microsoft, and is intended to offer a new way of controlling your computer. It sits on the display, and can be twisted, giving easy access to shortcuts, controls, drawing tools, and other features. It’ll even work with third-party services; for instance, you’ll be able to use the Dial to adjust volume on Spotify, Groove, and Pandora. It can also be used to scroll on your browser, and edit, rotate, and manipulate objects on editing software. It’s also clickable, which allows the user to bring up a radial menu of tools.

surface dial

“Surface Dial is a completely new way to interact with technology,” explains Microsoft. “We draw, scribble, and sketch to organise our thoughts and communicate with others. With Surface Dial in one hand and Surface Pen in the other, you can unlock your creativity with easy access to shortcuts, controls, drawing tools, and more."

Microsoft promises that the Surface Dial will last for 12 months on two AAA batteries – based on four hours of daily use. Here’s a list of compatible apps:

  • Bluebeam (Revu)
  • Drawboard (Drawboard PDF)
  • Metal Canvas (Metal Canvas Player)
  • Silicon Benders (Sketchable)
  • Smith Micro (Moto 12)
  • Spotify (Spotify)
  • Staffpad (StaffPad)
  • Windows (All)
  • Word, PPT, Excel (Office Win32)
  • OneNote (UWP version)
  • Windows Maps
  • Plumbago
  • Sketchpad
  • Groove Music
  • PewPew Shooter
  • Microsoft Photos
  • Paint

Unfortunately, there’s no UK pricing or release date information for the Surface Dial just yet.

Related: CES 2017

Watch: Microsoft Event Re-cap

What do you think of the Microsoft Surface Dial? Which features would you like to see added? Let us know in the comments.

Bugblatter

October 31, 2016, 12:53 pm

OK it looks cool, but I'd rather the device recognised a gesture (e.g. me forming an 'O' with my forefinger and thumb) and then responded to me twiddling my fingers round as if there were a physical dial. And with LEAP and so on there's no reason they couldn't do that.

Dig out the dial and plonk it on the screen? Cool, really cool, but ultimately less convenient and far less flexible than gestures.

I'd still like to try one though.

Tom

October 31, 2016, 4:35 pm

Agree, its brilliant to see microsoft making sure that older tech is still supported by some of the new gadgets coming out (take a note Apple with your iPad pro only stylus) - however as you say it could also have been done with gestures without the need for additional costs

Rann Xeroxx

October 31, 2016, 6:27 pm

Why not both? The Kinetic tech for the X-Box really did not take off and LEAP has been a round for years and still is just a niche. But where I see all this converging is on a "Surface Desk" where the Pixel Sense technology finally talks off and every object on the desk can interact with the surface UI. Add gestures and you have Minority Report.

toboev

October 31, 2016, 11:15 pm

I reckon that if you do get to try it then the inimitable advantages of the physical feel and feedback of a proper mechanical dial (hopefully with a bit of weight/inertia to it) will be beyond comparison with making gestures in empty air.

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