iPadOS Is Here: Turn Your iPad Into a Mouse-Friendly Work Machine with These Accessories
Whitson Gordon10/02/19 10:00AM•
Using a mouse with the iPad may not be exactly what we were hoping for—it’s an accessibility feature and it feels like it—but it can still make writing, photo editing, and other tasks a little easier if you’re used to performing those tasks on a PC. To enable the feature, make sure you’ve updated to iPadOS 13 and head into Settings > Accessibility > Touch > AssistiveTouch and turn AssistiveTouch on. From there, you can head back to Settings > Bluetooth and pair your mouse like any other Bluetooth device.
Next, temper your expectations: this isn’t going to turn your iPad into a Mac or anything. The cursor is a large circle rather than a small arrow, and the iPad interface still isn’t truly designed with a mouse in mind. Scrolling gestures worked well enough on my Logitech trackpad (albeit not very smoothly), and navigating around a Google Doc worked as well—the cursor even disappeared when not in use (which is nice, given that it’s so huge). But selecting text is a little clunky, since you’re using a cursor with the iPad’s touch-focused selection, and you can’t swipe the trackpad to navigate the home screen. You also have a virtual home button on the screen at all times, since that’s part of AssistiveTouch—though you can increase its transparency from the AssistiveTouch settings if it bugs you.
You can also adjust your mouse’s tracking speed and the cursor’s auto-hide feature from the AssistiveTouch settings, if you like. If you go to AssistiveTouch > Devices, you can even customize what the right-click and other mouse buttons do. You won’t get a desktop-style context menu, but any shortcut customization is a plus in my book.
All told, it’s far from perfect, but I did like it better than using my fingers to get around a document I’m writing, so it’s a nice step in the right direction. Of course, in order to actually use the feature, you’ll need…well, a mouse and keyboard. Not to mention something to stand your iPad up, laptop-style.
The holy grail, of course, would be a clamshell case with a keyboard and trackpad built-in. And sadly, there aren’t any on the market designed for the iPad just yet. The Kickstarter-funded Libra looks promising, but it’s still in the production phase. Other companies, like Brydge, have teased renders of potential products, but with nothing to show for it just yet. But in the meantime, there are compromises that may work well enough.