What's Cooler: Apple's Touch Bar or Microsoft's Surface Dial?

By James O Malley on at

It's been an exciting couple of days in tech as both Microsoft and Apple have held big press events to announce new hardware - and intriguingly both companies have invented new types of input device.

Yesterday, Microsoft announced Surface Dial - this is a small touch-sensitive cylinder, which can be used for easy scrolling, scaling and rotating on the new iMac-alike Surface Studio. If you're manipulating a 3D object, you can simply keep your hand on the dial and manipulate it with the exact precision that you need. Even cooler, if you rest the Surface Dial on the Surface's screen (which can be adjusted to use like an easel), you can use it on screen, using it to scroll through menus and functions.

This evening, at Apple's press event it announced the new MacBook Pro, which comes complete with what it calls a Touch Bar - a tiny, thin display running across the top of the keyboard where the Function keys used to be. As the company demonstrated, it can be used for various contextual controls, such as scrolling through photo libraries in the Photos app, or selecting bookmarks when using Safari. It can also be customised by the user, so that their most used functions and features can be accessed at the touch of a button.

So now the question we're wondering given these two new gambles on the future of interacting with our devices: Which is cooler? Both have the potential to revolutionise the tech industry - if they're successful, they will no doubt be emulated and widely adopted. Here in the Giz UK office we're rather excited about the Dial - the Touch Bar, while clever, doesn't feel revolutionary (both figuratively and literally), whereas it is possible to imagine (however unlikely) the Dial becoming a new standard input for desktop machines.

What do you think? Let us know in the comments.