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Microsoft Flexes Tech Muscle with Dial

Microsoft Flexes Tech Muscle with Dial Microsoft Flexes Tech Muscle with Dial

The Dial is Microsoft’s coolest input device ever, a silver puck accompanying the new Surface Studio computer.

The gadget, which sits on the Studio’s 28-inch screen and twists like a doorknob, is a peripheral like a mouse and keyboard. Except, it’s not like those things at all.

The easiest way to understand the Dial is to consider its analog counterpart. If Surface Studio is your drafting table and the Surface Pen stylus is your pencil, then Dial is your palette. It’s the object you hold in your other hand that contains all the tools you dip into on a regular basis.

“If a tool is used 99% of the time by 99% of the users, they [app makers] might put that on radial dial,” Scott Schenone, Surface’s product designer, was quoted as saying by Wired.

Dial clicks, double clicks, rotates and detects screen position. Whether you’ll use it depends a lot upon why you use a computer to begin with.  Microsoft created Dial specifically to make life easier for artists and designers—and for a certain type of creative (the type who can afford a $3,000 computer, for starters), it will do exactly that.

 The Bluetooth-connected gadget is like a physical shortcut. It parses what you’ve got on the screen—be it a map app, Photoshop, Microsoft Paint, whatever—and provides a radial menu of tools and shortcuts specific to the task at hand.

With Edge, Window’s browser, twisting the Dial scrolls through a web page. On Maps, it zooms or reorients a map. Other uses are more mundane—adjusting volume or screen brightness, undoing or redoing a given action, that sort of thing. But this is simple stuff accomplished easily enough with a tap, pinch, or swipe.

Where Dial gets more interesting is in the creative apps that Microsoft unveiled on Wednesday. You can program Dial to adjust hue saturation, brush size and screen orientation in Sketchable. Cooler still, you can rotate the entire canvas.

In the drafting app Drawboard, you can use Dial to create a protractor. A haptic click, designed to feel like the tumblers on a lock, shifts your attention from searching for tools to using them. When this device will arrive in Iran is not clear because the company has no official representation.

Previous reports from this paper discounted a local company who said they were the “official representative” in 2014. Microsoft responded at the time by saying that they have not partnered with any Iranian company.

 

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