Craig Federighi Says iPad's Cursor Experience Inspired by Apple TV

Apple software engineering chief Craig Federighi recently spoke with TechCrunch's Matthew Panzarino about the iPad's new cursor functionality, introduced alongside trackpad and mouse support in iPadOS 13.4.

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Federighi said the iPad's new cursor experience was inspired by the Apple TV:

"There was a process to figure out exactly how various elements would work together," Federighi says. "We knew we wanted a very touch-centric cursor that was not conveying an unnecessary level of precision. We knew we had a focus experience similar to Apple TV that we could take advantage of in a delightful way. We knew that when dealing with text we wanted to provide a greater sense of feedback."

And:

"Part of what I love so much about what's happened with iPadOS is the way that we've drawn from so many sources. The experience draws from our work on tvOS, from years of work on the Mac, and from the origins of iPhone X and early iPad, creating something new that feels really natural for iPad."

When using a trackpad, the cursor displays as a circle on the screen, popping up only when you have a finger on the trackpad. The circle then morphs into various other shapes when interacting with various elements of iPadOS:

"So we came up with a circle that elegantly transforms to accomplish the task at hand. For example, it morphs to become the focus around a button, or to hop over to another button, or it morphs into something more precise when that makes sense, like the I-beam for text selection."

And:

"We set out to design the cursor in a way that retains the touch-first experience without fundamentally changing the UI," Federighi says. "So customers who may never use a trackpad with their iPad won't have to learn something new, while making it great for those who may switch back and forth between touch and trackpad."

MacRumors recently went hands-on with the cursor experience, providing a closer look at various trackpad gestures and more.


iPadOS 13.4 introduced the new cursor experience and trackpad support on all iPad Pro models, the iPad Air 2 and later, the fifth-generation iPad and later, and the iPad mini 4 and later. Keyboards with built-in trackpads released so far include Apple's Magic Keyboard, Logitech's Combo, and Brydge's Pro+.

Top Rated Comments

Joseph C Avatar
27 months ago
It’s really great for the first stab, but iPadOS 14 hopefully will bring further refinements, as right click behaviour, selection and hover states aren’t as consistent as they should be.

In Reminders, I can’t select multiple Reminders with it. In Music, hovering over albums doesn’t give the Parallax effect. Date pickers and other elements need to be refined for trackpad/mouse and keyboard input. In Photos, right clicking a Photo doesn’t give much context for example to hide a photo I still have to go into the Share sheet window. Right clicking on selected text brings up a different type of limited old-style menu to what you get when, say, right clicking a song in Music or an App on the home screen.

There are more examples but I can’t think of them off the top of my head. Hopefully many more UI refinements are coming which will make the experience more consistent.
Score: 9 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Even Longer Avatar
27 months ago
On an iPad even a cursor has experience... Good times to be alive. ;)
Score: 9 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Aluminum213 Avatar
27 months ago

Well they made it distinguished from the way it was pre-13.4, on iOS 13, and made a big fuss about it.

so that's what I'm asking about. Comments like these aren't helpful at all
It works like a cursor like you’ve used on a laptop and desktop

Not sure what the confusion is
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Joseph C Avatar
27 months ago

Right click is already there.
I wasn’t saying it wasn’t there; I was saying the right click behaviour is not consistent. :)
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)
mazz0 Avatar
27 months ago
Craig Federighi Says iPad's Cursor Experience Inspired by Apple TV
Well yeah - did anybody not notice that?

I’ve turned that feature off (Settings -> Accessibility -> Pointer Control -> Pointer Animations). I’m actually fine with the animations, it’s the cursor disappearing while they animate that’s the problem, it means you’re not 100% sure where it’ll appear when it comes out of the other side, which spoils the smooth flowing feeling of moving the cursor. It’s hard to describe, it sounds minor, but it’s very offputting to me. I hate the Apple TV interface too, but that’s because it’s so hard to swipe the right number of times at once. Delightful my arse.

Incidentaly, anyone else frustrated by the trackpad and keyboard settings being arbitrarily divided between General and Accessibility? Jeez, it’s like Windows 10!
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Unregistered 4U Avatar
27 months ago

I don't think Apple has EVER done anything as ridiculous as this in it's history.
I always go back to the puck mouse...
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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