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.
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 an extremely touch-centric cursor that had not been conveying an unnecessary level of precision. We knew we had a focus experience similar to Apple TV that people could take good thing about in a wonderful way. We knew that whenever dealing with text we wanted to give a greater sense of feedback."
"Part of what I really like so much about what's happened with iPadOS may be the way that we've drawn from so many sources. The knowledge draws from our focus 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 once you have a finger on the trackpad. The circle then morphs into many other shapes when interacting with various factors of iPadOS:
"So we developed a circle that elegantly transforms to perform the task accessible. For instance, it morphs to become the focus around a button, or even to hop to another button, or it morphs into something more precise when which makes sense, just like the I-beam for text selection."
"We set out to design the cursor in a manner 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 so that it is great for individuals who may switch backwards and forwards between touch and trackpad."
MacRumors recently went hands-on with the cursor experience, providing a closer look at various trackpad gestures and more.