Apple fans have been wondering if the company would ever touch this third rail of the iPad. The device started its life as a hard core touch-only tablet. However, as it morphed into a more powerful device that could take on more tasks, Apple began to slowly add new features.
Apple broke with Steve Jobs’ derogatory statements on the concept of the stylus with the addition of the Apple Pencil. Well, sort of. The Pencil isn’t the sole input method for the iPad like the styli of old, but its arrival definitely marked a shift for Apple’s tablet. It sounds like Apple is about to cross the next big iPad input divide with iOS 13.
According to well-known MacStories writer and developer Frederico Viticci, Apple is preparing to add mouse support to the iPad! Well, sort of. This tweet from Steve Troughton-Smith sums things up nicely.
If you missed last week’s @_connectedfm, @viticci had a pretty interesting scoop that he’d been sitting on re mouse support coming to iPad as an accessibility feature. As far as I’m aware, that *is* indeed in the works. I feel like every pro user will turn that on, day one 😂
— Steve Troughton-Smith (@stroughtonsmith) April 22, 2019
Apple has developed an interesting habit of trialing features as Accessibility options. The addition of “Smart Invert,” which is really close to being a Dark Mode without actually being one, in iOS 12 comes to mind. If recent rumors are true, this will be followed by a full rollout of Dark Mode in iOS 13.
According to Mr Viticci (with the tweet above as corroboration), mouse support for the iPad is going to start out as an Accessibility option in iOS 13, meaning that it may not be as full-featured as some would like. However, this is a safe way for Apple to roll out support in a limited way while still keeping the feature somewhat under wraps.
Another interesting twist is that, in the podcast referenced in the tweet above, Mr Viticci mentions that support will be limited to USB-C mice. Now that’s interesting, especially since it would rule out the use of Apple’s own Magic Mouse. However, this limitation may also serve a purpose for Apple in year one of mouse support.
Locking mouse compatibility to USB-C automatically limits this feature to the current-gen iPad Pros. I don’t think this is an accident at all. While it may get its start as an Accessibility option, Apple is definitely going to consider mouse support as a “Pro” feature for the iPad. As such, I don’t think it should come as any surprise that Apple would limit it to the iPad Pro, at least initially.
That said, I do hope that, as with the Apple Pencil, this rumored mouse support will eventually spread its wings and make it across the lineup to all iPads. It makes sense for Apple to embrace using Bluetooth mice to accomplish that in the future. However, I don’t see a problem with mouse support being limited by design in year one. As they did with Pencil support and multitasking, Apple will collect data on how people use this new feature and then make changes to their mouse support based on that for later releases.
As for me, I am looking forward to this rumor becoming fact. I certainly hope Mr Viticci is right, but he is trustworthy enough that I feel very optimistic that this will happen. Mouse support isn’t a feature that I have to have on the iPad, but it is so familiar to anyone who has used a computer as long as I have that it will easily translate for certain tasks. Also, since I use my iPad Pro with a keyboard quite often, a mouse should easily fit the way I work and make some tasks on the iPad easier. No matter what, I am definitely looking forward to trying this out.