Apple software engineering chief Craig Federighi recently spoke with TechCrunch‘s Matthew Panzarino about the iPad’s new cursor functionality, introduced alongside trackpad and mouse support in iPadOS 13.4.
Federighi said the iPad’s new cursor experience was inspired by the Apple TV:
“There was a process to figure out exactly how various elements would work together,” Federighi says. “We knew we wanted a very touch-centric cursor that was not conveying an unnecessary level of precision. We knew we had a focus experience similar to Apple TV that we could take advantage of in a delightful way. We knew that when dealing with text we wanted to provide a greater sense of feedback.”
“Part of what I love so much about what’s happened with iPadOS is the way that we’ve drawn from so many sources. The experience draws from our work on tvOS, from years of work on the Mac, and from the origins of iPhone X and early iPad, creating something new that feels really natural for iPad.”
When using a trackpad, the cursor displays as a circle on the screen, popping up only when you have a finger on the trackpad. The circle then morphs into various other shapes when interacting with various elements of iPadOS:
“So we came up with a circle that elegantly transforms to accomplish the task at hand. For example, it morphs to become the focus around a button, or to hop over to another button, or it morphs into something more precise when that makes sense, like the I-beam for text selection.”
“We set out to design the cursor in a way that retains the touch-first experience without fundamentally changing the UI,” Federighi says. “So customers who may never use a trackpad with their iPad won’t have to learn something new, while making it great for those who may switch back and forth between touch and trackpad.”
MacRumors recently went hands-on with the cursor experience, providing a closer look at various trackpad gestures and more.
iPadOS 13.4 introduced the new cursor experience and trackpad support on all iPad Pro models, the iPad Air 2 and later, the fifth-generation iPad and later, and the iPad mini 4 and later. Keyboards with built-in trackpads released so far include Apple’s Magic Keyboard, Logitech’s Combo, and Brydge’s Pro+.