iPadOS 13.4 coming next week with mouse and keyboard enhancements

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iPadOS 13.4 is headed for iPad Pro and other tablets
iPadOS 13.4 takes another big step toward making Apple tablets comparable with a MacBook.
Photo: Cult of Mac

The 2020 iPad Pro announced Wednesday launches next week with iPadOS 13.4, and many recent tablets are getting upgrades, too. iPadOS 13.4 makes significant improvements to iPad mouse functionality, and also brings progress on external keyboard support.

iOS 13.4 for iPhone is also expected to launch next week. Both versions include iCloud Drive folder sharing and other changes.

UPDATE: Developers who don’t want to wait for the next iOS and iPadOS updates can download the “golden master” versions now by joining Apple’s beta program.

iPadOS 13.4 doubles down on mouse support

The original version of iPadOS 13 brought the first mouse support to Apple tablets, but only as an accessibility feature. iPadOS 13.4 takes it mainstream, with Apple unveiling a new Magic Keyboard today with a built-in trackpad for the iPad Pro series.

But any iPad running the upcoming version of iPadOS can use the new mouse functionality, including an improved cursor that highlights user interface elements, text fields and more.

Improving accessory support for iPads isn’t just about the mouse, though. iPadOS 13.4 makes it easier to use hardware keyboards designed for a Windows computer with your tablet because it’s now possible to remap modifier keys. This allows you to change the location of the ⌘ and ⌥ keys, which are flipped on a PC.

Changes coming in iOS 13.4 and the iPad equivalent

Apple said today it will release iPadOS 13.4 next Tuesday. It didn’t say anything about iOS 13.4, but the company almost always introduces phone and tablet operating system upgrades simultaneously.

iCloud Drive folder sharing in iOS 13.4 and the iPad equivalent will make collaborating with a friend or co-worker much easier. Folder sharing doesn’t mean just emailing the contents of a folder. You and anyone you choose can access the files in one of your iCloud Drive folders, without moving them elsewhere.

The next versions of Apple’s mobile operating systems bring some just-for-fun improvements, too. Personalized Memoji videos can make your friends laugh, but many people prefer Memoji stickers. You can use them like regular emojis, but they look like the user instead of a yellow face. Apple added quite a few new ones in iOS 13.4, including Party Horn, Rolling Eyes and Person Behind a Computer.

Additional iOS 13.4 Memoji stickers
Some of the new Memoji stickers in iOS 13.4.
Photo: Ed Hardy/Cult of Mac

Just for iPhone users, Apple rearranged the Mail app’s toolbar in iOS 13.4, making the delete icon less easy to get to. Apparently, lots of people accidentally delete their email messages on smaller handsets.

The update brings a range of other tweaks as well. Apple built some new data-saving settings for the TV app into these updates, for example. And Universal Purchases potentially could bring real change to Apple’s ecosystem.

iPadOS 13.4 and iOS 13.4 compatibility

As mentioned, iPadOS 13.4 with trackpad support will become available on March 24 as a free software update. It will work with all iPad Pro models, iPad Air 2 and later, iPad 5th generation and later, and iPad mini 4 and later.

Any iPhone that can run iOS 13 can upgrade to iOS 13.4.