Apple has finally taken a cursor to the iPad, but not in the traditional sense. It's a small, translucent gray circle that turns into buttons and disappears when you don't need it. Here's everything you need to know!
It works with any Bluetooth mouse or trackpad
You do not need to buy Apple's new liquid Magic Keyboard case with the built-in trackpad or Logitech's new Combo Touch keyboard cover to access the cursor. As long as you have iPad or iPad Pro running iPadOS 13.4 or later, you can get this feature.
All you have to do is deliver your own Bluetooth mouse or trackpad. Apple's Magic Mouse and Trackpad work best (Magic Trackpad supports some extra gestures). However, you can connect any old PC mouse and get full functionality.
Go to the Bluetooth section of "Settings" and pair your mouse or trackpad just like you would with a pair of Bluetooth headphones.
RELATED: How to connect a Bluetooth mouse or trackpad to your iPad
That's where you need it
The first you will notice with the cursor it disappears after a few seconds. It is so that it will not distract you when you try to read or watch something.
If you want the cursor to remain visible, you can turn this feature off; just navigate to Settings> Accessibility> Pointer Control> Automatically hide the pointer.
It Morphs, For Real
The new cursor disappears in more ways than one. When you hover over a user interface, the cursor actually changes over the button. It has a nice transition effect when it changes from a gray circle to a gray background for the button you're hovering over.
It even has a subtle parallax effect when you move the cursor on top of the button (similar to navigating apps on the Apple TV home screen). This way you don't have to be precise with the controls and Apple doesn't have to convert a bunch of big buttons.
If you find the animations too time-consuming or spotty, go to Settings> Accessibility> Pointer Control> Pointer Animations to turn them off.
It makes text editing a hell of a lot easier
One of the biggest frustrations with the iPad (or any touch screen device) is editing text. Apple tried to make things better with new drag gestures and drag and drop, but nothing works as well as a traditional cursor.
RELATED: How to use text editing books on your iPhone and iPad
And finally this one is here! When you hover over text, the cursor circle turns into a familiar line of text selection. From there, just click and drag on the text to select it.
You can click on the selected text and move the cursor to drag it, or right-click for copying and sharing options.
You can right-click on an iPad
iPad Pro owners have wanted a right-click option for a long time. Finally, you can now access direct menus on iPad! Just right click on a link and boom! You will see the context menu from which you can open the link in the background.
You can do this in all Apple apps, or even on the Home screen. Third-party app developers will also be able to use the new feature and add context menus to more locations.
Yes, you can control iPadOS via a mouse or touchpad
You can use the cursor to do everything you used to do with your finger on the iPad. But now it is much faster with a mouse or touchpad. A mouse click or touchpad unlocks your iPad, and a second click or press from the bottom of the screen unlocks it.
And that's where it gets really interesting. Apple has transformed all sweep gestures into what we can only describe as jam gestures. Do you want to set up the registration center? Stick the cursor to the top of the screen and continue pressing up.
You can do the same to the right of the screen to bring up the Slide Over window.
Continue to go to the bottom of the screen and pop up the App Dock. A click on the Home bar (on iPads with Face ID and no Home button) will take you to the Home screen. Click, hold or drag up to access the app switch.
From the Dock, you can click on an app icon and then drag it left or right to add it to Split View.
To open the Control Center, just click the status color icons in the upper-right corner.
You can now control the vast majority of iPadOS with a mouse or touchpad. There are still some edge cases, such as horizontal scrolling on the home screen, but that need some work.
Additional TouchPad Gestures
If you connect a Magic Trackpad 2 or use a case with a built-in TouchPad, access the following additional gestures:
- Pull up with three fingers: Return to the home screen.
- Pull up with three fingers and hold: Open the app switch.
- Swipe left or right with three fingers: Switch between apps.
- Pinch: Close an app and go to the home screen.
Changing the Tracking Speed or Scrolling Direction
When we used the new cursor with Magic Mouse 2 and a Logitech MX Master 2s, we found the tracking speed to be a bit slow. Thankfully, you can adjust it to better suit your needs.
After connecting your Bluetooth mouse or trackpad, go to Settings> General> Touchpad and Mouse. Then drag the "Tracking Speed" slider to the right (toward the rabbit icon) for any quick cursor action.
While you are here, you may also want to take a look at the "Natural scrolling" option. It has been on the Mac for more than five years, and now Apple has taken it to the iPad.
"Natural Scrolling" mimics the touch experience, so when you scroll up with the mouse, you actually scroll down the screen. You can disable this if you just want it to go up when you scroll up.
Customize everything about the cursor
You can also change the cursor behavior in many other ways. For example, you can increase the scrolling speed or contrast or even add a colored border to the cursor.
Go to Settings> Accessibility> Pointer Control to experiment with these options.
The new cursor feature is built on top of the old AssistiveTouch mouse pointer feature. To add new functionality to the extra mouse buttons, go to Settings> Accessibility> Touch> AssistiveTouch.
For example, you can customize the scroll button to open the app switch. We have highlighted how to use the AssistiveTouch section here.
RELATED: How to use a mouse with your iPad or iPhone