Craig Federighi shows off awesome power of iPad trackpad

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Craig Federighi and new iPad features? What more could you want?
Photo: Apple

Apple is bringing true trackpad support (and improved mouse support) to the iPad. Get ready to enjoy it by learning all the new gestures from Craig Federighi, Apple’s senior vice president of Software Engineering.

In a new video released by Apple Wednesday, Federighi demonstrates the improvements and shows how simple swipes can help you access Control Center, switch between apps in Slide Over, return to the Home screen, and more.

iPad Pro owners who use their tablet to get things done really need a physical keyboard. Many also prefer to use a mouse over having to lift their arms to interact with a screen for eight hours a day.

iPadOS already has mouse support, of course, but it’s rudimentary. It doesn’t support basic mouse features, and it uses a laughably large pointer that’s imprecise and horrible to look at. It’s also a largely hidden Accessibility feature.

That all changes in iPadOS 13.4, which rolls out to everyone on March 24. Let Federighi show you what’s new.

True trackpad support in iPadOS 13.4

Apple’s next update brings true trackpad support for the first time. It’s not quite the same as on Mac (the pointer is still very different) but it’s a huge improvement — and a huge step forward. It’s properly optimized for iPad now.

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A brand-new pointer just for iPad.
Photo: Apple

Trackpad and mouse support is actively automatically when you connect a compatible device. It adds a new Trackpad & Mouse menu to Settings > General where you can adjust tracking speed and scroll direction.

The pointer only appears when you need it — it will hide when you stop using your trackpad or mouse for a short period — and although it’s still circular for the most part, it’s smaller and much more precise now. It’s also adaptive.

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Its animations are terrific.
Photo: Apple

The pointer changes depending on what you’re doing. For instance, if you move it over some text, it turns into a cursor. If you move over a button or other UI element, it changes size and shape to highlight that element.

Real gestures

Arguably more important than the pointer is the new gestures specifically for trackpad users. They will have you navigating iPadOS and its features quicker and, and put common functions just a swipe away.

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A swipe gets you where you need to go.
Photo: Apple

You can return to the Home screen at any time with a three-fingered swipe up. Use the same gesture and hold it in place to access the app switcher. When in Slide Over, a two-fingered swipe lets you switch between open apps.

Pinch to zoom is supported by the trackpad, too — as is the ability to click and drag to select text and other objects. Just about anything you can do on the iPad’s screen is now possible with a trackpad.

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Switching between apps is faster than ever.
Photo: Apple

You can find Apple’s full video, in which Federighi walks us through all these things, below. If you plan to pick up a brilliant Magic Keyboard for your iPad Pro in May, or use another mouse or trackpad, it’s well worth a watch.