Apple stepped towards creating a more productive ecosystem for iPad users with the announcement of iPadOS – a new version of iOS tailor-made for Apple’s tablets. iPadOS brings a ton of new features such as cool text editing gestures, external drive support, more responsive Apple Pencil, and a lot more. But one feature that didn’t get particular attention onstage on the first day of WWDC 2019 was support for a mouse. Yes, iPadOS has been spotted bringing mouse support, both wired and wireless, on an iPad. Notably, the feature has also been spotted on iOS 13 (supporting both iPhone and iPod touch in addition). It’s worth pointing out that as it stands, this is an Accessibility feature, and the operating systems aren’t embracing the mouse in full-fledged way just yet.
The support for mouse has been one of the most highly demanded features by iPad users, who wanted to truly transform the tablet into their workhorse. Arrival for mouse support with iPadOS and iOS 13 is a major piece of news, but surprisingly, it is not mentioned in Apple’s lengthy iPadOS announcement story over on the Apple Newsroom, and as we mentioned, nor was it detailed at the WWDC 2019 keynote address.
iOS developer Steve Troughton-Smith spotted mouse support on iPadOS and even shared a video in which an iPad’s UI can be seen being navigated with a USB mouse. Andrew Cunningham from WireCutter tweeted that iPadOS also supports Bluetooth mice, after having tested it with the Microsoft 3600 wireless mouse. The mouse support in iPadOS is reportedly available as an Assistive Touch feature that can be found in the Accessibility settings on an iPad. In a subsequent tweet, Smith added that iPadOS also brings support for Apple’s Magic Trackpad.
But there may be a limitation with iPadOS’ support for mice. It appears that the mouse connected to an iPad cannot extend its navigation duties to an external display, which means the cursor is locked to the iPad’s screen. And even though it supports the scroll wheel gesture, a mouse being used on an iPadOS-powered device is reportedly unable to map the right-click gesture to the new context menus in iPadOS, because there’s no real equivalent to that in the OS. Additionally, the developer also mentioned that mouse support works on an iPhone and iPod touch too.
In a follow-up, reporter Steven Aquino added more details straight from the horse’s mouth. “Apple made clear to me it is an ACCESSIBILITY FEATURE first and foremost. Meant for users who literally cannot access their devices without a mouse, joystick, whatnot.”
He went on to say, “Apple likes the idea accessibility features are getting mainstream looks (cf. mousing on iPad) but they strongly emphasized this was designed and developed expressly for a certain segment of user. In other words, curb your enthusiasm,” and quoted Apple to say “This is not your old desktop cursor as the primary input method.”