Surface Pro 4 update finally enables on-screen Surface Dial support

Surface Pro 4 and Surface dial
Photo by Tom Warren / The Verge

Microsoft is rolling out new Surface Pro 4 firmware this week, and it finally introduces on-screen support for the Surface Dial accessory. The software maker originally promised to support the Surface Dial fully on the Surface Pro 4 back in October 2016, with a rough release date of early 2017. The support lets the Bluetooth-powered puck display contextual radial menus that you can interact with right on the display (underneath the Surface Dial).

Microsoft’s latest Surface Pro includes this support out of the box, and the all-in-one Surface Studio was the first to introduce the on-screen Surface Dial. The screen size of the Surface Pro 4 is obviously a lot smaller than the Surface Studio, but the ability to sense the puck and display menus could be useful for some. Unfortunately, Surface Dial support has been rather limited from app developers. Adobe finally started supporting it for Photoshop back in October, but it’s very basic support. Apps like Sketchable were the first to show what the Surface Dial is really capable of, but we’re still waiting to see a lot more.

Comments

Downloading updates and firmware now. Not sure if I’ll ever get a Surface Dial though it might be interesting to play with.

I have one, it sits on my desk untouched for months at a time. I mostly use it as a volume knob for my SP4.

My initial reaction to the Dial was supreme awe to the point where I just knew Apple was kicking themselves for not thinking of it first. Something like the Dial is a perfect vehicle to their aversion to making a touchscreen iMac. I just knew Microsoft had a winner but it’s been over 2 years and the device has basically been forgotten about.

What this really speaks to is developers’ lack of confidence in Microsoft. They’ve abandoned so many projects developers may believe they’ll sunset the Dial too. Then again updates are good so maybe it’ll get developers on (or back on) the bandwagon.

I hope the Surface Dial stays. It has lots of potential, but it needs support from developers. At least Microsoft had signed up some good big name applications to support it. Microsoft needs to keep the momentum by getting other partners to come on board and offering more functionality system-wide.

I think the biggest thing hindering adoption is the price itself. I want one, but it’s out of my budget still.

Wow! That took long enough.

Not super necessary, screen’s too small anyway.

Totally forgot this was even a thing.

The Dial? Probably because you don’t have a use for it. I use mine regularly as a professional artist. It’s quite useful and it would be sad if I somehow ‘forgot it was even a thing’.

Will they ever updated the Intel driver that’s from March 2017?

Is there a new driver available that is for some reason not being pushed out with updates?

But wouldn’t such a dial be SO much easier and useful if it was implemented in software with touch. My experience, as a designer, is that touch is SO immersive and singular, that pulling back to use outside hardware to manage screen action is ridiculous.

I agree, I much prefer touchscreen controls in FPS games vs using a dedicated controller.

Not even remotely comparable.

I sense sarcasm.. but I’m not sure what it’s directed towards? Are you railing against the touchscreen?

It looks like an interesting interface device, but I don’t know what I need it for…

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