You might think it would be pretty simple for Apple to add mouse support to its mobile operating systems. But that’s not so. The company reportedly spent years developing its newest accessibility feature.
Apple is also keen to stress that mouse support in iOS 13 and iPadOS is for certain users — those who cannot easily use touch. It was not added to replace touch for the average iPhone and iPad user.
Mouse support in iOS 13 and iPadOS is terrific, and I couldn’t be happier that Apple has finally added it. I work primarily on a 12.9-inch iPad Pro — I rarely power up my Mac — and having full control over my device without having to lift my arm for most of the day is wonderful.
There are still some bugs Apple needs to iron out, and I would really like to have the option for a smaller cursor. It would also be great to get support for a right-click. But this is a huge step in the right direction.
Mouse support wasn’t designed for users like me, though.
Mouse support is for those who really need it
I can use touch on my iPad Pro all day, every day if I need to — and Apple thinks I should. Mouse support was added to make the iPhone and iPad more accessible to those who can’t, reports Steve Aquino.
“Apple made clear to me it is an ACCESSIBILITY FEATURE first and foremost,” Aquino explained on Twitter. It is “meant for users who literally cannot access their devices without a mouse.”
Apple “strongly emphasized this was designed and developed expressly for a certain segment of user.”
That explains why mouse support is hidden away inside the Accessibility settings in iOS 13 and iPadOS. It’s also why Apple didn’t make a big deal out of it during its WWDC keynote on Monday. We had no idea it was even added until developers started digging into the betas.
But mouse support wasn’t an afterthought.
Mouse support was years in the making
“Apple said the foundation for mouse/pointer goes back a couple of years,” Aquino added. “They’ve been building to this.”
Mouse support isn’t something Apple quickly tacked onto iOS 13 and iPadOS before releasing the first betas, then. It planned it for some time, and likely put in a lot of effort to get it right.
Apple has confirmed that mouse support is designed to worth with both Bluetooth and USB mice, but it doesn’t have an official list of supported devices just yet. We know its latest Magic accessories work just fine.
I’ve been using a wireless Logitech M720 mouse with my iPad Pro and it has been excellent. My colleague Charlie Sorrel has also had success with another Logitech option.
What are Apple’s plans for mouse support?
We still don’t know just how far Apple will take mouse support in iOS and iPadOS.
It seems the company is serious about making iPhone and iPad accessible to those who can’t use touch, but it doesn’t want to make the experience so good that the average user will choose a mouse most of the time.