- Apple’s new software update for the iPad will bring real trackpad support, a feature it currently lacks that will make it a much more capable work device.
- The update is called iPadOS 13.4, and it launches on March 24. Apple announced it alongside its updated iPad Pro on Wednesday.
- Trackpad support on the iPad will allow you to do many of the tasks you would use a mouse for, like selecting text, but will also have gestures tailored to the iPad’s operating system.
- Trackpad support will work with Apple accessories as well as third-party mice.
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Apple has always positioned the iPad Pro as being a tablet that’s powerful enough to handle many of the same tasks as most laptops. But until this point, the iPad Pro had a big disadvantage compared to notebooks: its lack of mouse support.
That’s changing with Apple’s new iPad software update launching this week, which will finally bring true mouse and trackpad support to the company’s tablet lineup. Apple made the announcement alongside the debut of its new iPad Pro, which features a LiDAR scanner that can measure distances in the real world and a new A12Z Bionic chip.
Based on Apple’s description, it sounds like the trackpad support will be able to handle most of the functions of a standard computer mouse, such as selecting text and scrolling.
But the company does say that the trackpad experience on the iPad won’t just mirror the way mice and trackpads work on laptops. The iPad’s software will support gestures that make it easy to switch between apps, activate the dock and Control Centre, and shuffle through apps in Slide Over mode, a feature that allows you to open another app in a smaller column on the iPad’s screen. The iPad’s mouse cursor will appear as a small circle on screen that’s designed to highlight various aspects of the operating system, Apple says.
The feature is launching alongside the new Magic Keyboard accessory for the iPad Pro, which has a trackpad, unlike Apple’s older iPad keyboards.
Apple’s iPadOS 13.4 update will be launching on March 24 for all iPad Pro models, iPad Air 2 and later, the fifth-generation iPad and later, and the iPad mini 4 and later. Trackpad support will be compatible with Apple accessories like the Magic Mouse 2 and Magic Trackpad 2 as well as Bluetooth and USB-connected third-party mice.
The addition of true mouse support says a lot about Apple’s intentions for the iPad, particularly the iPad Pro, as it fulfils a critical shortcoming of the iPad when it comes to serving as a work device. Apple has made several improvements to the iPad’s software in recent years that boosted its capabilities as a productivity device, including multitasking features like Slide Over and split screen mode. But mouse support was the one of the biggest features it had been missing.
Apple’s iPad software currently supports the ability to use a mouse as a pointing device through its AssistiveTouch feature, but that’s an accessibility-oriented capability that’s meant to simulate the experience of using a finger on a touchscreen through a pointing device. Now, however, it sounds like the trackpad and mouse support many iPad owners have probably been waiting for will finally arrive this week.