Apple finally gives iPads trackpad support

IT news

Team trackpad, rejoice: you have been heard. Last year’s announcement that iPadOS 13 would support a USB mouse fueled hopes that Apple was giving thought to novel ways of navigating the device, and now it has arrived: iPadOS 13.4, announced the company, will finally include trackpad support.

The new feature was unveiled along with the new generation of iPad Pros, and is likely to be welcomed by many fans who have felt that trackpad support for iPads has been lacking.

“iPadOS 13.4 brings trackpad support to iPad for the first time for a more natural typing experience and added precision for tasks such as writing and selecting texts, working with spreadsheets and pro workflows,” noted the iPad-maker.

Apple further maintained that trackpad support has been “completely re-imagined” for iPad, rather than borrowed and copied from macOS. From the details provided by the company, however, it seems that the concept is broadly the same, while the design will differ slightly.

The cursor will appear as a circle that changes shape as it highlights different elements in the user interface, so as to make sure that users click on the right text fields and applications. The trackpad will also support multi-touch gestures to switch between apps, access the app switcher and activate the Dock or Slide Over view.

“We carefully considered the best way to integrate trackpad use into a touch-first environment while retaining everything out customers know and love about iPad,” said Craig Federighi, Apple’s senior vice president of software engineering.

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Trackpad support will work with the iPad maker’s brand-new Magic Keyboard, which was announced as part of the new iPad Pro package.

Image: Apple

From scrolling through Safari to organizing your emails in Mail, trackpad support will work, of course, with Apple’s own applications; and the company is working on future updates to iWork’s suite of productivity apps such as Pages, Numbers and Keynote, designed specifically to make the most of trackpad support.

The feature, however, will be compatible with most third-party apps as well, and Apple encouraged developers to think of new ways to put the tool to good use in their applications. Plus, trackpad support will work with the iPad maker’s Magic Mouse 2, and with its brand-new Magic Keyboard, which was announced as part of the new iPad Pro package – but it will also function with external trackpads and mice, connected over Bluetooth or USB.

Any device running iPadOS 13.4 will be able to access the new feature. This means that although Apple just announced a new iteration of iPad Pros, older models can also access trackpad support, as long as they can upgrade to the new OS – which is the case of most iPads released in the past five years.

SEE: Top 20 Apple keyboard shortcuts for business users (free PDF)

Apple also showcased a new Magic Keyboard for the new iPad Pros, which comes with hinges that lets users display the screen at various angles. Together with trackpad support, these new features seem to further blur the distinction between Apple’s iPads and laptops, and seem to reflect the company’s efforts to improve the performance of mobile computing devices.

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