Apple is stupid for not bringing mouse support to the iPad

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People want touchpads and mice, and if Apple brought this to the iPad, they could seriously disrupt the industry. Yes it would cannibalize Mac sales, but who cares? The amount of Windows and Chromebook customers Apple would steal would surprise people. They literally wouldn’t have to change the iOS GUI in any way, why aren’t they doing this? If I’m being honest, I would be very tempted to switch to an iPad if it had mouse support (and desktop Safari instead of mobile Safari). Stuff like this makes me think Apple needs more aggressive people steering their ship. Microsoft is very lucky Apple hasn’t brought mouse support to the iPad yet

Comments (54)

54 responses to “Apple is stupid for not bringing mouse support to the iPad”

  1. jules_wombat

    And this is why Android will become the default Client platform, because it does support mouse. I don't know why Gogle is still promoting Chromebooks, when Android is taking over every client.

  2. Daekar

    I would buy an iPad with mouse support and a keyboard before I bought a Chromebook. Without mouse support, an iPad is stuck on my "never purchase" list. There is absolutely no reason to entertain them as a possibility when I could get a far more powerful and user-friendly experience on an Android tablet. An Android tablet could be a true laptop replacement. Without mouse support, the iPad is nothing but an accessory.

  3. wright_is

    A mate of mine broke the screen on his Android phone, plugged in a USB mouse and was able to copy the data off the phone and reset it, before sending it off for repair.

  4. ryguy

    Agreed. I love my iPad Pro but the lack of cursor makes it way too much of a pain to do any "real work" - using Excel on it is a nightmare. Add cursor support and a Bluetooth mouse, and I'd seriously start thinking about leaving my Thinkpad at home when traveling.

  5. useful windows

    This would be a game changer. I could see using an iPad Pro for quite a bit then. But knowing Apple it will never happen. Just like a touch screen Mac will never happen (again how awesome would that be).

  6. PeterC

    Totally agree. Let’s see what the much rumoured iPad Pro and MacBook Air refresh is this September. In particular the new iPad Pro keyboard/cover that’s coming. I was also reading about an odd shaped connector that’s been noticed relating to the new iPad Pro.

  7. christian.hvid

    I'm not saying it can't be done, but let's not forget that Microsoft has struggled for the better part of a decade trying to combine touch and mouse in a meaningful way, and it's still not exactly where it should be. Things were easy enough when touch displays were resistive and tapping on something was about the only possible gesture - it worked exactly like a mouse left click, and only required a slightly bigger target. But with capacitive displays came lateral gestures of all kinds, where not only touch location but also speed, direction, acceleration and even pressure meant something. And with that, mouse and touch interfaces grew apart and became fundamentally different. I'm not sure it will ever be possible to fully reconcile those two paradigms, but I do believe it's worth keeping on trying.

    • Daekar

      In reply to christian.hvid:

      So... mouse cursors also possess speed, direction, and acceleration. Is 3D Touch really so important? None of the iOS users I know are even aware of its existence.

      • christian.hvid

        In reply to Daekar:

        Yes, but trying to emulate touch gestures with a mouse is every bit as awkward as the other way around. That's probably why we have multitouch touchpads these days; they're kind of halfway between mouse and on-screen touch.


        But my main point is that far greater minds than mine have already tried for years to solve this equation, and it turns out to be not that easy. I find it hard to believe that it never occurred to Apple to provide mouse support on the iPad; chances are that they just haven't figured out how to do it right.


        Edit: Also, Apple is always a little afraid of doing stuff that the Ghost of Steve may not approve of.

    • skane2600

      In reply to christian.hvid:

      The problem that MS had with Windows 8 was that some features were designed specifically for touch with mouse support only as an afterthought. Gestures really aren't appropriate for the mouse which is why you should include visual targets for equivalent functions. Remember gestures weren't created because mice were inadequate, but rather because a more appropriate approach for small mobile devices was needed.


      Now having a true hybrid approach to the UI might spoil its aesthetic "purity", but that's the price you pay for dual functionality. The alternative is to favor one approach over the other and end up with one of the functions only half-baked. That's what happened in Windows 8.

  8. scottib62

    I sit here thinking wtf. I'm typing on a sub $400 Lenovo Windows laptop. I can use a mouse, I can use a track pad, a keyboard or a touch screen! Why can't Apple products do that ? Lots of talk on this thread for at least the last 3 weeks or more but no real answer. I've come to the conclusion they don't want to because Steve wouldn't. They won't become what they could be until they let him go.

    • Michael_Miller

      In reply to scottib62:

      The worse thing a manufacturer of products can do is to cannibalize their own product line. That's why with Apple, you have touch and no mouse on the IPAD and mouse and track pad but no touch on the laptop line. It is a deliberate product strategy with some overlap but with different operating systems and different features (with mouse support, touch, etc.) and the essence of each product and different marketing strategies, i.e., a tablet vs. a laptop computer. The worse Apple could do is provide mouse support on the IPAD which would damage their MacBook lineup. Perhaps when Apple revamps their entire tablet/computer lineup will you see mouse support on their tablet. Read the "Innovators Dilemma". Finally, apple is selling about 40-45 million ipads per year; something MS can only dream of having; and Apple's market cap is one trillion dollars which provides enormous shareholder value regardless if the Ipad has a mouse or not.

      • scottib62

        In reply to Michael_Miller:

        By all means take care of shareholders, not customers. Any damage to MacBook is done by Apple and they're lack of updates to the hardware. Sorry but market cap doesn't matter in these circumstances, wasn't part of discussion. To me its about flexibility. And giving me as many options for input as possible. Besides being over priced the rigidity of the OS's and the inability to have it my way makes Apple purchase all ways a no-go.

      • BigM72

        In reply to Michael_Miller:

        Apple has long held the philosophy of cannibalising their own products. Better you do it to yourself than a competitor does it to you. At least then, you're still the one selling to your customers.

  9. VancouverNinja

    Too little to late for iPads or even iMacs to be taken seriously in business anymore. Apple had years to do it but chose different priorities. iMac market share is dwindling well below 10% now - iPads are stalled. Microsoft did what they needed to do and not only stabilized Windows but they have knocked it out of the park. Using an iPad or Chromebook is simply a step down and no place for them in the business segment.


    Now Microsoft is moving back towards consumers after getting a formidable beach head in Business productivity. Late this year we see Surface Book refreshes, and Cortana Consumer devices. Next year we see Andromeda, HoloLens 2, Surface Hub 2, and consumer VR/MR.


    From my perspective I want consumer devices that are on the same platform as my business productivity needs. Microsoft is the only one that can deliver this; Cortana is also the only AI that has done anything meaningful for me so far. She is wickedly good - kinda like a killer PA for me. She keeps saving my butt with Reminders.



  10. Jeffery Commaroto

    This is a feature I am convinced I want and would use constantly. With that said I have owned Android tablets and only once in all the years I used them did I ever hook up a mouse.

  11. Jackwagon

    "Yes it would cannibalize Mac sales, but who cares?"


    I guess Apple decided that the cost/benefit analysis didn't match up the way they want it to. This is not to say that it won't eventually happen; Tim Cook seems far more pragmatic than Steve Jobs, so I believe he'd be up for this if he felt that it made sense. However, he'd have to consider both how many people would be attracted by a converged product vs. how many would be repelled by it, in addition to the sales cannibalism.

  12. MikeGalos

    It's NOT that Apple is "stupid" for not adding mouse support to iOS. It's that iOS was intentionally designed to make that as close to impossible as could be done.


    When Macintosh came out, despite guidelines, many vendors just ported their MS-DOS and Apple ][ text applications to Macintosh. This freaked out Jobs and when iOS came out he was worried that the same thing would happen with Windows and Macintosh applications quickly ported to the new "touch based" platform.


    His solution was to tell the iOS team that not only was a mouse NOT to be supported but that they should make sure it couldn't be supported as much as was possible.


    His plan worked in that touch based applications were developed and nobody ported mouse-based applications over without a UX redesign. The cost was that he made it very close to impossible to ever put mouse support into iOS.


    Unintended consequences happen and plans change.


    Luckily for Apple, Jobs wasn't as thorough in making sure that his hatred of a stylus was impossible to override.

    • skane2600

      In reply to MikeGalos:

      "When Macintosh came out, despite guidelines, many vendors just ported their MS-DOS and Apple ][ text applications to Macintosh."


      I've never heard that (although as a non-Mac user, I guess I wouldn't have). Given that many programs of that era were written in assembly and the fact that the Mac, PCs, and Apple II's all used different processor families (and completely different OS's of course), it doesn't sound like an easy port to perform.

      • pecosbob04

        In reply to skane2600:"I've never heard that (although as a non-Mac user, I guess I wouldn't have). "

        That makes two of us and I am a Mac user. When Mike talks Mac sometimes his sources (the demons in his head?) are sketchy or non-existent. Although this story seems at least possible to me so yeah could be, or not.

    • Jeffsters

      In reply to MikeGalos:

      Mike do you mean to post false and incorrect information or do you really believe this stuff and just not able to fact check yourself with Google?


      Oh...and the Apple Pencil was developed when Steve was in-charge. It sat on the shelf for years until hardware costs came down for the iPad needed to use it.

  13. TEAMSWITCHER

    Huh? iOS isn't Windows. It was designed from the ground up for touch. Apple Pencil provides the perfect interface for precise interaction with the screen and so much more ... Mouse support is simply not needed.

    • Chris_Kez

      In reply to TEAMSWITCHER:

      You don't think there's a chance that Apple releases an iOS-based laptop? What then?

      • TEAMSWITCHER

        In reply to Chris_Kez:

        Nope! If they release an ARM based laptop, it will run macOS. The OS that was designed from the ground up to use a mouse.

        • Grant Cunliffe

          In reply to TEAMSWITCHER:

          Wow you must have a direct line to Tim Cook? Why can't a laptop come from a touch first environment?

          Microsoft have come from a keyboard, mouse beginning and Apple IOS from touch. With both players closing in on the middle ground mixing keyboard mouse and touch screen, who will end up dominant is something only time will tell.

          Of course Chromebooks indoctrinating the young cannot be ruled out :)

          As a Microsoft user since the early 90's and a reluctant Mac user despite it being an excellent OS (I'm just used to Windows), my money is on Apple who have mastered pretty rock solid touch with some great Apps and seem better positioned to deliver.

          Since the 2007 Apples slow and steady has hit few bumps such as Microsoft with Windows 8 and has put them worth what they are today.

          Microsoft I love you, I want you to succeed despite some great stuff but you frequently disappoint.

          Windows updates...aargh theme song on that one Sting's "Driven to tears" at high volume. Why not cellular Surface Go on release (yeah not ARM I know)? Apple have delivered this for yonks!

          I'm reasonably platform agnostic but I think I am going to the dark side!

    • wp7mango

      In reply to TEAMSWITCHER:

      The Surface Pro (along with many other touch screen Windows devices) include precise touch using the pen too. When you hover the pen over the screen, a cursor appears, and you can use the pen for left and right click actions, etc. Yet it still has full traditional mouse support too.


      The point being, full mouse support could be added to iOS and it wouldn't detract from the existing touch UI or pencil capability.

  14. jimchamplin

    Uhhhhhhh...


    No? The only purpose I could see it serving would be for gaming. Enable PC-style gaming on iPad, and well...



    • Chris_Kez

      In reply to jimchamplin:

      There is some piece of me that is broken and compels me to act as the "hyperbole police", but surely you can't think gaming would be the only purpose for adding pointer support to the iPad. Have you used-- or seen someone use-- an iPad with a keyboard for an extended period of time? Being able to just use your thumb to hit a target without taking your hands off the keyboard (or needing to learn keyboard shortcuts, which very few users do) would make life much easier. How about making multi-select drag and drop operations much easier? The touch-based implementation is very cool, but again much easier to do with a mouse or trackpad without disrupting workflow.

    • truerock2

      In reply to jimchamplin:

      I hadn't thought about mouse/keyboard/iOS for PC style games. That could be HUUUUGE.

  15. curtisspendlove

    I don’t think so. In fact I think they are more wrong on the “no touch Macs” stance. That is more likely to put a dent in Windows PCs or Chromebooks (though I don’t think that needle is going to move much) than mouse support on iOS. iOS is already very touch target friendly.


    I personally hate taking my hands off my Mac or iPad hardware keyboard to touch the screen. But a trackpad on the iPad wouldn’t be any better. Most apps already have pretty good keyboard shortcuts.


    I do think if they did do this as an experiment, they’d actually release a “laptop style” iOS device as opposed to doing full-scale mouse support on existing iPads. And I think it would operate more like the “hold down the software spacebar to drag the text cursor around” and less “move a mouse cursor everywhere on the screen”.

  16. Grant Cunliffe

    Absolutely agree they are standing on an issue of consistency which seems a bit odd?

    Incredulous of those that say why would they do it? To me relates to a small thing called working with text.

    Some of use use mobile devices to work on text. My experience with an iPad using a Brydge keyboard is that the device is fantastic for this purpose.

    Having to use a finger to edit text is not a fun experience with a finger. Yes there is Apple pencil at a pinch.

    Think the idea of an experimental iPad laptop makes sense.

    In terms of a compact device could this be a chance to re-examine the pencil pointing stick and a couple of buttons ala ThinkPad (pay for the patent if need be?) in order to not need a keyboard bigger than the iPad 9.7" size and avoid the add on of an external mouse / pencil?

    I remember 90's Toshiba laptops and happy working with the pointing stick as the touchpad took over and being anti until there was no choice.

    Many business laptops keep the pointing stick so that could be a help in that market.

    The obvious driver is education and working with text to help the battle Chromebooks and Microsoft Surface Go.

    I bet that mouse support for IOS is coming even if Apple don't go overboard with the implementation. Place your bets!! :-)


  17. Daekar

    Absolutely agree. They'd need to change almost nothing, and iOS would instantly become a more viable platform for productivity.

  18. skane2600

    No doubt some people would find mouse support handy, but there's really no reason to make an iPad into a poor imitation of a Mac. IMO, all the schemes that hope to turn mobile devices or their OS's into productivity systems are missing the point. We already have good productivity systems, Windows, MacOs and Linux have it covered. We also have good systems for mobile: iOS and Android. We don't need all-platform systems and we can't achieve them anyway.

    • Grant Cunliffe

      In reply to skane2600:

      You should tell Apple that they shouldn’t make a poor imitation of a Mac because they are quietly doing it with IOS 11, keyboard, the pencil aren’t they? It’s less about an all-platform system but realising that the excellence of the IOS can be stretched slightly to provide more productivity to a whole lot of users but leaving space for serious computer users with their iMacs and their Windows PCs. The worry for Microsoft and Google is a a just right device can take away a lot of their customers. It’s great how Google and Microsoft work so hard to make great Apps for IOS - Google Photos, Google Keep, OneNote, Outlook, Excel etc. Sure they are lacking many features but heck they have come a long way in making an iPad a surprisingly productive device. Give me my mouse support now!! Please.

      • skane2600

        In reply to Letsmakeitbetter:

        I see the reason to use, say an iPad vs a Mac is task and context based, not user-based. There are plenty of people who use iPads and still use their Macs or PCs. So, for the most part I don't see users split into "serious" and "non-serious" camps. You use the best tool for the job in the environment you find yourself in.


        I see Apple's addition of keyboards and pencils an implicit admission that the post-PC world that Jobs envisioned isn't going as planned. I don't think turning the iPad into a kind of "de-integrated" laptop is what Jobs had in mind. But IMO, the natural end-point for evolving the iPad into a productivity machine is the laptop form-factor with OS capabilities similar to what the MacOS provides.

  19. jchampeau

    Do you intend your comment to be hyperbolic, or do you actually think adding mouse support to an iPad would "seriously disrupt the industry?"

  20. Chris_Kez

    Reasonable people can disagree about the impact such a move would have, but bringing pointer support to iOS is so obvious that I'm frankly stunned to see anyone disagree with the idea in 2018. I could understand the touch-only zealotry 8-10 years ago when iPad apps needed to get their footing. But now that touch has been established as a legitimate input, and Apple has added pen support, the refusal to accommodate a mouse or trackpad seems retrograde.

    Also, is it not obvious that Apple is moving towards an iOS-based replacement for the Macbook Air or perhaps the Macbook? Will the same people who dismiss trackpad support on the iPad also dismiss touch support on an iOS-based laptop? Why wouldn't both form factors support both modes of input?

    • truerock2

      In reply to Chris_Kez:

      I also often think about mouse/track-pad support for iPad. I'm using an iPad right now thinking what I'm going to type in this reply using Windows 10.


      Yea... I guess I'm seeing the problem. Looking at iTunes on Windows 10 and Music on iPad... it seems like mouse on iOS is just not worth the effort for Apple to support. Mouse on iPad just wouldn't be that useful.


      But - I don't have an iPhone X. Perhaps that version of iOS would be more ameliorating for a mouse - I wouldn't know.


      I have an iPhone, an iPad and a Windows 10 PC with a 27" 1080p video monitor. They each have their niche and I don't see any one of the 3 eliminating one of the others - for my personal preferences and uses.


      The one form factor that has really blown me away is the $200, 11 inch, 4 pound Dell Inspiron 11 3000 Windows 10 notebook computer my son purchased recently. If the Windows 10 GUI wasn't so crappy for mouse and keyboard that product category (which HP and Lenovo and lots of other companies compete in) would blow the category of ulta-portables completely away. I'm actually considering purchasing one of these $200 sub-sub-Windows10-notebooks. I consider this to be what I really want - NOT an iPad with a mouse. I mean - it's only $200 - how could I loose?


      Oh - by the way - I hate track-pads. A small, wireless Bluetooth mouse is much, much more useful.

    • judgejewelz

      In reply to Chris_Kez:

      I recently purchased a Citrix Mouse for when I'm logged in to my Windows account (via Citrix) for work. I have to say that its a revelation using a mouse with my 12.9" iPad Pro in this manner, and I agree with you Chris that adding universal mouse support would compliment the other input methods wonderfully.


      If Citrix can do this then Apple can too; perhaps their worried that this would cannibalise their laptop offerings?

    • curtisspendlove

      In reply to Chris_Kez:

      As I stated earlier, if Apple brought iOS to a laptop form factor I don’t think they would implement “always present mouse cursor” with a little mouse arrow on the screen.


      I think the trackpad would somehow be an “enhancement” to iOS. I expect it would probably only function for text entry.


      I think this this is a major sticking point in any such testing they have done and a major reason we haven’t yet seen an iOS laptop form factor.


      As far as Apple is concerned, macOS is cursor based and iOS is touch based.


      I’m wondering how many people went through bouts of physical pain just to add the “text cursor” movement thingie to text fields.

  21. Jeffsters

    If you want mouse like functionality use Apple Pencil. That's the way it is.

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