iPad Evolution

I spent several hours this morning using my iPad at the kitchen table with an external keyboard and mouse. I continue to be impressed with the new trackpad/mouse support available with iPadOS 13.4. Using these input devices quickly becomes second nature, and while it isn’t the exact same behaviors you’d get with a Mac, it’s close enough that you can pick it up fast.

I’ve always argued that one of the fundamental motivations for me using an iPad is delight. There is just something about using a flat piece of glass computer that I can write on, type on, speak to, and now mouse/trackpad on that makes me smile. I’m pleased that the pointer implementation on the iPad brings this sense of delight to this new interface. The round pointer nicely transitions its shading, so it always contrasts with the background. The pointer ball squishes itself as it approaches other shapes (whether they be buttons or the curser line) to morph itself into them. Jason Snell posted these animations over at Six Colors. When you stop using the pointing device, the indicator fades away, only to come back when you need it. It almost feels like your pointer is your little buddy helping you get your work done. It’s so eager to please you that it jumps into buttons or your text for you.

While there are some app inconsistencies, particularly in my experience with apps that roll their own text entry system, I expect developers will get that sorted out. Overall, however, having used this new system under fire for about a week, I think it is brilliant. I also believe that when laptop users start getting their hands on keyboards with trackpads built-in (or experiment with a Bluetooth mouse), their thoughts about iPad limitations and what they can accomplish on the device are going to evolve.