Precise mouse cursor and trackpad support coming to iPad

Apple is prepping system-wide support for precise mouse cursors for iPad, according to iOS 14 (iPadOS 14) code seen by 9to5Mac. The iOS 14 build also referenced two new Apple Smart Keyboard models with trackpads (one for the 11-inch iPad Pro and one for the 12.9-inch model, ostensibly) that have previously been reported to be in development.

iPad mouse and trackpad. Image: 11-inch and 12.9-inch iPad Pro models.
Apple’s 11-inch and 12.9-inch iPad Pro models
Benjamin Mayo for 9to5Mac:

The changes coming to the software will bring most of the cursor features you recognize from a Mac desktop experience to iOS.

One difference may be that the pointer disappears automatically after a few seconds of not touching the connected mouse or trackpad, a concession to the touch-first experience of the iPad. It would reappear when the user attempts to move the cursor again… Apple is also developing support for Mac-like gesture, like tap with two fingers to right-click.

The presence of new Smart Keyboard models and these gestures heavily suggests that the keyboard accessory will feature a standard laptop-like trackpad.

MacDailyNews Take: For those who wanted a MacBook, but mistakenly bought an iPad.

Look, it depends, as always, on what you do. If you write (blog), you need a good keyboard, you need precise cursor control, and you need to be able to cut/copy/paste accurately and quickly. As all written reviews are from writers, and the iPad is inferior to a MacBook for writing, what you’ll read is heavier on the criticism than from say, an artist. For an artist, an iPad is a total revolution. Ditto for musicians. But artists and musicians write far fewer reviews than writers (duh), so all we end up hearing about is an endless stream of how the iPad keyboard “sucks,” how iPad needs circa-1984 mouse support, and “where’s my trackpad?”

We use MacBook Pros to write. If iPad had a keyboard anywhere near as good as our 16-inch MacBook Pros and allowed us to quickly and accurately select and move text snippets, we’d use it more for writing. If iPad had coherent, intuitive multi-tasking and we could use it to quickly assemble images and insert them into our articles, we’d use it more. But, right now, it cannot come close to working as well and as quickly on both counts as our MacBook Pros.

If an artist or musician or someone from any number of other disciplines (almost every high-level exec we know today uses an iPad Pro far more than a laptop, if they still even have a laptop) were to write about the iPad, the story would be completely the opposite. iPad works far better for what they’re doing than a MacBook Pro. For many, Apple’s iPad transformed computing long ago.

“We find that there are many older users longing to make iPad work like a laptop, because that’s what they know. Take a look at a twelve-year-old who’s only really ever used an iPad for personal computing. It’s an eyeopener. It’s like looking into the future. The answer isn’t to try to make the iPad into a MacBook. The answer is to provide all the tools possible in iOS for developers to make robust apps that can take advantage of the multi-touch paradigm.” — MacDailyNews, May 16, 2017

Our main gripe about iPad is about iPadOS, not the brilliant hardware, and that we feel Apple should be further along that they are now because what they’re offering currently significantly lacks intuitiveness and discovery. This is because the company lost their sole judge of user-friendliness and have not yet been able to construct a reliable system of replacing that singular point of judgement. This is why nobody can just pick up an iPad and figure out how to multitask with it today. If you have to read the manual, that’s not the Apple way; Steve would have repeatedly sent them back to get it right and make it discoverable before he’d ship it.MacDailyNews, January 31, 2020

iPad’s multitasking certainly screams for a rethink. But it, along with add-on keyboards and rudimentary mouse support, signals Apple’s confusion as to what to do with iPad, what iPad is for, how iPad is supposed to work, and what iPad’s supposed to be. Steve Jobs had an idea of what iPad was meant to become, we’re fairly certain, but it seems to have gotten muddled since he passed too soon after iPad’s birth.

If we could boil down iPad’s problem, it comes down to an overall problem Apple has had seemingly since Steve Jobs’ death: Discoverability. Used to be, you could grab an Apple product and intuitively figure it out. That interesting, but half-baked ideas like 3D Touch and Touch Bars and iPad split-view multitasking whatever somehow made it to the public (we all know why: the final arbiter, the guy who’d send his engineers and designers back to their drawing boards the minute something wasn’t user-friendly enough was gone). These things, especially iPad multitasking, are simply not discoverable or intuitive or consistent and it’s in those very things where Apple misses Steve Jobs the most today.MacDailyNews, January 28, 2020

A team of people – talented people who actually get it and who are all on the same page – is an absolute necessity for Apple’s success, but it creates a problem: Jobs was a single filter. A unified mind. The founder. A group of people simply cannot replicate that. This is not to say that they cannot do great work (we believe Apple does, and will continue, to do great work) just that Apple is fundamentally affected by the loss of Steve Jobs and has to figure out a new way to work. — MacDailyNews, April 8, 2014

The absence of Steve Jobs grows ever more apparent with the introduction of each new Apple product, service, and app. At today’s Apple, the lack of an omnipotent arbiter of taste glares like a klieg light.MacDailyNews, October 1, 2017


  1. This is not happening. And if it does, Apple is done in my books. iOS IS NOT A POINT AND CLICK INTERFACE. PERIOD. It is not designed for that in anyway. If Apple were to do this it would make no sense. If you want point and click, get MACOS. If you want multi-touch, choose an iPad OR MACOS, since MACOS does multi-touch. The problem with the iPad is that the design is not in anyway fit for point and click, with a stupid simple interface, massively large icons, etc.

    1. Its a point interface and that’s enough. It will help some people be more productive for certain tasks.
      Several professionals have been asking for this for a long time!
      Obviously its not for you. So just don’t buy a mouse or track pad instead of baking up reasons you think nobody will find it useful.
      Hey, what about for gaming ever even consider that use case? I guess not.That’s killer for FPS games.

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