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Everything you need to know about Apple Pointer iPad support

Everything you need to know about Apple Pointer iPad support

Apple shared more details about how the pointer and trackpad support works with iPads.

Apple shared many other details to explain how iPad and trackpad support works with iPads, offering videos, guidance notes and a top-level company presentation.

What is Pointer and Trackpad support on iPad?

Apple now supports trackpads on iPad OS 13.4.

This does not mean that you use the trackpad on an iPad in the same way that you use a pointing device on a Mac or other system. Instead, the company has developed a refined experience, unique to the tablet itself.

[Manténgase al día con los últimos avances en liderazgo intelectual, conocimientos, procedimientos y análisis sobre TI a través de los boletines informativos de Computerworld . ]

In other words, rather than providing an «and me» experience, the company has thought deeply about how these things work to develop a control system that feels natural, intuitive and unique.

It means that instead of turning an iPad into a Mac (as some short-sighted commentators seem to want to believe), the company simply turned a small Mac into an iPad. The iPad is becoming a plus for the Mac.

Note: Apple has released an augmented reality tour of its new iPad Pro, allowing you to see what it will look like on the desktop. This is available here.

How does Apple describe it?

Apple explains how it works:

As you move your finger on the trackpad, the pointer changes to highlight UI elements. Multi-touch gestures on the trackpad allow you to navigate the entire system without lifting your hand from the keyboard and trackpad.

You can tap buttons, launch apps, access the Control Center, and do anything else with this system.

Craig Federighi, Apple’s senior vice president of software engineering, said:

«We have carefully analyzed how we can best integrate the use of the trackpad in a touch environment while keeping everything our customers know and love about the iPad. We are excited to bring this new way of interacting with the iPad to the millions of people who use iPadOS today. «

What does it look like?

When working with the trackpad / pointer, you do not see an arrow cursor; instead, you’ll see a semi-transparent circle that intuitively highlights UI elements as you work.

The circle only appears when you use it; you can still use touch and focus on content whenever you want.

He is also contextually intelligent.

This means that you will see slightly different behaviors depending on what you do: the application icons will behave differently from the text boxes, and the system control options will work differently again.

For example, when you hover over a text box, you’ll see that box appear, or you’ll scroll through it once in Calendar to see it highlighted; tap an item that is highlighted this way to access it.

The system also manages gesture commands, allowing you to switch between applications, quickly access the Launcher application, and use Dock, Control Center, and applications in Slide Over.

Craig Federighi presents …

Apple has posted a video in which Federighi demonstrates how the trackpad cursor support works on the iPad.

«Our goal with the iPad has always been to create a device so capable and so versatile that it can become whatever you want it to be,» says Federighi during the presentation.

«This versatility is based on the power of the touch. But of course, we offer many other ways to interact with your iPad and sometimes you just want to type. For typing, nothing beats the magic keyboard. When typing, you most appreciate the accuracy and ergonomics of a trackpad. «

He said the company had «deeply considered» how to introduce a cursor into a «tactile experience».

The vice president of developers showed us some points:

The cursor appears on the screen as round, «like your fingers.»

As you scroll through the iPad controls, the cursor will change its appearance to reflect the tool you want to select.

It emphasizes the integrated support for sliding and fixing and support for Slide Over.

Explain the three-finger gestures supported by your device: up to go home, swipe up, and hold to enter multitasking.

The demo also includes a look at how accurately you can work with spreadsheets using your device.

«New levels of control and accuracy when you need them, while maintaining the legendary versatility of the iPad,» he promised.

What else do we know?

Go to Notification Center: Move the cursor to the top of the screen and drag it up.

Access Control Center: Move the cursor to the upper right corner of the screen and click the battery / Wi-Fi status indicators.

Switch between recent applications: Use three fingers and swipe left and right to switch between recently opened applications. Or use three fingers to swipe up and close the current application.

Pinch with three fingers to close the current application and open multitasking.

Can I customize how it works?

Yes, you can customize how this works on the iPad. Things you can change include:


Three tools: Increase Contrast (on / off), Auto Hide Pointer (default 2 seconds), and Color (none by default; blue, white, red, green, yellow, or orange highlights are available).

The size of the indicator

Slider that resizes the indicator from low to high.

Pointer animations

This allows the indicator to animate and adapt to the elements on the screen.

Trackpad inertia

When this is activated, the indicator will continue to move after you lift your finger.

Travel speed

These items are available in Settings> Accessibility> Pointer Control.

There is another collection of settings that you can adjust when using your iPad with a trackpad. Available in Settings> General> Trackpad. Here you can change:

  • Tracking speed, using a small scroll bar.
  • Natural scrolling – When activated, the contents will follow the movement of your fingers.
  • Turn on / off touch to click – you’ll be able to select things with a light touch.
  • Enable / disable two-finger right click: Double-tap to right-click.

And the developers?

The company says that most applications for the iPad operating system will support the new user interface without the need for any additional code.

True, but some more advanced features, such as scroll-only support, may take a while. Apple has introduced new APIs that developers can use if they want to add or improve this support in their applications.

How do you get trackpad and pointer support?

Trackpad and cursor support is available in iPad OS 13.4, so you’ll need to install it on your iPad first.

Once you’ve updated your device, you’ll be able to access new features using a Bluetooth mouse or trackpad, the new Magic Apple keyboard with trackpad (delivered in May), or another iPad device that supports the feature, such as the Logitech Combo Touch.

All of these solutions will allow you to use the cursor / trackpad support now built into the iPad operating system.

Until next time:

This is a very significant moment in the continuous evolution of the iPad and the computer. It means that the iPad is inexorably heading towards becoming a more sophisticated and flexible solution for certain uses than a Mac.

Switching to a pointer-based interface also has potential (which I think we’ll see realized) for virtual and gesture-based interfaces. There are already head and eye movement interfaces; now Apple makes them main interfaces.

Although the times we are in are complex and difficult, Apple continues to make them interesting. Good luck to all.