Apple has been trying to present the iPad as a laptop replacement since the last few years, especially with the introduction of the iPad Pro. Over the years, Apple has been nailing it in the hardware department, with some iPad models often exceeding the performance potential of MacBooks. However, iOS as an operating system has been restricting that from happening in a massive way. This year’s iPadOS update aims to fix that with several MacBook-like features trickling down to the iPad ecosystem. In between all the features that Apple advertised during the presentation, there’s one feature that wasn’t focused on – mouse support.
The new iPadOS brings support for USB mouse for the entire iPad range. This simply means that users can now plug in a USB mouse to an iPad and use it similar to a MacBook or any other Windows laptop. The 2018 iPad Pro is the only product in the iOS device lineup to get a USB-C port and this makes it possible to plug in a mouse and use the iPad Pro as a laptop.
Do note that the mouse support can only be accessed after it is enabled from the Accessibility Settings in iOS. Also, one would require a USB-C to USB-A converter in order to make the mouse work. Once the mouse is connected, one can assign different functions to all the buttons on the mouse. This can be accessed by going into Settings > Accessibility Settings > Pointing Devices.
The iPadOS is presently only available in closed beta to a selected number of developers and there are many who have been trying out this mouse support. Several videos shared on Twitter from various developers show users attaching a mouse to the iPad Pro and using it similar to a MacBook.
With a mouse connected to the iPad Pro, iPadOS shows a big circular cursor instead of the arrow pointer we are used to in conventional laptops. However, the functionalities are very similar. There’s no right-click-menu in the OS but the left button acts as a single tap. Hence, if you click on an app or item, the iPad will register it as a single tap and do the intended activity. With a mouse, editing documents very easy compared to the touch gestures on iPadOS.
The mouse support doesn’t bring any additional arrangements to the OS, which means in order to back or switch between multiple windows, one has to replicate the gestures with the mouse. Of course, if you have a multi-button mouse, you can assign each button for a gesture.
The mouse support in iPadOS is not a very polished one and would need more work in order to make it work as smoothly as a normal laptop. However, it’s certainly a step in the right direction and makes living with an iPad slightly easier.
iPadOS will be available in Public Beta by July and will be rolled out as a stable update by October this year.