Tips and Tricks: Apple Unifies Trackpad Mode in iOS 12

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Apple brought us Trackpad Mode, a way to move a cursor for easier text editing, almost three years ago. It debuted on the iPad in iOS 9. We also got an iPhone version of Trackpad Mode later that same year with the 6S and its 3D Touch feature. However, while Trackpad Mode has always been very handy, it’s implementation across Apple devices has always been inconsistent.

Before iOS 12, it took a two finger press, hold, and swipe across the on-screen keyboard to enable Trackpad mode on the iPad. Trackpad Mode on the iPhone has been limited to those that have 3D Touch installed. It is enabled by pressing on the on-screen keyboard with a hard press with one finger. So we have two different methods for the iPhone and iPad, and the fact that this feature has never been available on many iPhones.

iOS 12 to the rescue. Apple has done some unification in a few areas in this new version of the OS, with Trackpad Mode being one of them. Now, ALL iOS 12 compatible devices will be able to take advantage of the incredibly handy Trackpad Mode. All it takes is a long press on the keyboard to make it work now. 3D Touch is no longer required for use on an iPhone, which is interesting. It seems like Apple may be taking steps to move 3D Touch to the background. This may be a good idea, since in has never been offered on less expensive iPhone models like the SE, and has never been practical to include on the iPad.

Speaking of the iPad, now we can use the same single finger press with its on-screen keyboard to engage Trackpad Mode. Having to use different gestures for the same feature across different devices just isn’t a good situation. It breaks the user experience and makes moving between iOS devices more difficult. Unifying features like Trackpad Mode makes them easier to learn and more likely to be used.

This was a smart move on Apple’s part. Cleaning up Trackpad Mode across iOS is one of many reasons that I think their decision to take a step back, slow down a bit, and fix bugs and smooth rough edges in iOS 12 was definitely the right call.


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