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Apple may finally add mouse support to the iPad lineup in its upcoming iOS 13 software update, according to a new report.
MacStories editor Federico Viticci, on the latest episode of the Connected podcast, said that USB mouse support could eventually be added to the iPad Pro as an accessibility feature. While he didn’t name any specific source, he cited the information from “a couple of people,” presumably with knowledge of Apple’s plans.
“What I heard is without adapters, you will be able to use any USB on your iPad, but as an accessibility device,” Viticci said.
Essentially, users can just plug a USB-C mouse into an iPad Pro and use it in accessibility mode. In fact, it’s long been possible to use accessories like joysticks and trackballs with the AssistiveTouch feature to control iOS devices with a cursor. So it isn’t a far-fetched possibility.
Viticci did note that he heard this rumor “months ago,” so he isn’t entirely sure whether it’s still on the table for iOS 13. But Viticci’s information was corroborated by another iOS developer, Steve Troughton-Smith.
“As far as I’m aware, that is indeed in the works,” Troughton-Smith said in a tweet on Monday, adding that he feels like “every pro user will turn that on, day one.”
In a subsequent tweet, Troughton-Smith added that iOS could have a small circle or dot cursor, rather than the traditional pointer on macOS. Of course, it isn’t entirely clear what type of cursor Apple will add to its iPad lineup — since it has long denied the idea that its tablets and its computers will merge.
Of course, while this rumor focuses specifically on hardwired USB-C mouses, it’s probable that Apple will also eventually add support for Bluetooth UI mouses sometime in the future as well. With the shift toward wireless accessories, it doesn’t make much sense for Apple to only implement support for wired UI devices.
The rumor also lines up nicely with Apple’s Project Marzipan, which allows developers to more easily port Mac apps to iOS and vice versa. Since macOS apps are built to accept input from a cursor, Marzipan apps could presumably support the same type of input on iOS.
In any case, adding more PC-type features to the iPad Pro and larger iPad lineup will obviously be a boon for pro users who use the device as their primary computer. Lack of UI options, as well as a restrictive file management system, are some of the few things holding the iPad Pro back from being a serious notebook- or hybrid-killer.
It’s also worth noting that neither Viticci or Troughton-Smith gave a clear timeline for the accessibility feature. But it could debut as early as iOS 13, which is expected to be unveiled in early June at WWDC ’19.