iPadOS 13.4 is Even Cooler Than the New iPad

The coolest thing about the new iPad Pro isn’t the hardware, it’s the trackpad and mouse support in iPadOS 13.4. Apple announced trackpad and mouse support in iPadOS 13 – sorta. But in iPadOS 13.4 it’s now for real.

The trackpad and mouse support in iPadOS 13 was only sorta, because it was implemented as an accessibility feature, not a core feature of the OS. So it didn’t really solve the need for real pointing device support. But last Tuesday Apple released iPadOS 13.4 and now it’s not only real, but excellent, and innovative in ways that most people did not expect.

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How It Should Be:

Apple’s implementation has not just added support for pointing devices like you get in a conventional PC or laptop, it’s an innovation beyond what we’re used to. Here are some of the features that differentiate it:

  • Pointer cursor is normally a circle, like the tip of a finger.
  • Cursor changes based on what it is hovering over. While this is also a design behavior on macOS and Windows, it’s been enhanced for iPadOS.
  • Cursor snaps to buttons with an animation that makes the User eXperience (UX) so very intuitive.
  • Text insert bar cursor snaps to and adjusts it’s size based on the text size.
  • Adapted gestures to support iPadOS features.

Craig Federighi did a nice demo released on The Verge, of iPadOS 13.4 and the new Magic Keyboard with a built in trackpad, that will ship in May. It’s also in the Trackpad Support section of Apple’s iPadOS page.

To see the new trackpad and mouse support in action, check out the Trackpad Support section of Apple’s iPadOS page. And here’s an animated GIF from that Verge article that nicely illustrates the new cursor behavior.

iPadOS v13.4 – Pointer Animation

Now that Apple’s genius has created this new User eXperience (UX), that is so intuitive that it makes you wonder why someone didn’t think of it sooner. It’s just feels right and makes sense, in such a way as to make you think this is just how it should be done.

Who Would Have Thought an iPad Cursor Could Be So Much Fun? is a great Wired article on how fun and useful this is.

I’ve been using the trackpad with my 2018 11-inch iPad Pro for the last four days, and I can’t stop smiling.

Wired’s article Who Would Have Thought an iPad Cursor Could Be So Much Fun?

How To Enable and Use:

Apple published some support docs on Connect a Bluetooth mouse or trackpad to your iPad and on how to Use a Bluetooth mouse or trackpad with your iPad that will walk your through what you need to know.

Quick Reference Tips:

  • Connect a Bluetooth mouse or trackpad in the Settings app > Bluetooth.
  • Customize the cursor in the Settings app > Accessibility > Pointer Control.
  • Adjust mouse settings in the Settings app > General > Trackpad & Mouse.
    FYI: The Apple doc Use a Bluetooth mouse or trackpad with your iPad has a typo about this in the Adjust mouse settings section.
iPadOS v13.4 – Settings app > Accessibility > Pointer Control

Upgrade to iPadOS 13.4:

The upgrade is available through the usual software update service through the Settings app > General > Software Update.

I encountered some weirdness while updating iPadOS and macOS. The iPadOS Settings app did not show the update. I had to force close the app, then restart it for it to appear. macOS also did not show the new Catalina 10.15.4, even after quitting the Settings app and restarting it.

Perhaps this indicates that Apple still has some problems in its backend CDN (Content Distribution Network) that had not distributed the updates to the entire network. I’ve seen weird stuff like this, many times over the years and really not good performance too. Apple really needs to scale up their OS update and App Store infrastructure faster and bigger.

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