iPadOS Gets Trackpad Support – What The Tech Ep. 468

Posted on March 27, 2020 by Paul Thurrott in Podcasts, What The Tech with 8 Comments

Andrew and Paul discuss how the Coronavirus (COVID-19) is affecting education, new iPadOS support for mouse and trackpad, and the Huawei P40 series.

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Comments (8)

8 responses to “iPadOS Gets Trackpad Support – What The Tech Ep. 468”

  1. RobertJasiek

    Speaking about "most people": There have been statements that, for most people, a smartphone is good enough, an iPad with iPadOS 13.4 is good enough or - going further - claiming that the latter would also be the best choice of a PC. Not all of these statements can be correct. I do not know statistics for this or how to measure whether a usage is "good enough" if one asks people. As long as we have to make wild guesses to some extent, one cannot declare as proved fact that some such statement would be right. Therefore, I suggest to avoid such dogmatic statements and scolding everybody not believing them. Instead, one should make more reasonable statements, such as "for more people than before, this change will create a good enough experience".

    The other big variable is about what IS a PC. When trying to justify things by claiming that device X was a PC, one must also clarify what one means when speaking of a PC. Or a "computer", if you prefer.

    Probably Paul is right when saying that now an iPad is a better computer than a Chromebook. We understand that an iPad is good enough for some people but this does not imply that an iPad would be a better computer than one with a desktop OS. Both kinds of computers do different things better. E.g. portable vs. spreadsheet-macro cruncher. If, however, one emphasises "PC", it becomes harder to argue that iPads would already be there because many desktop OS capabilities are missing.

    • truerock2

      In reply to RobertJasiek:

      I think the problem is that people want to see this issue as an either-or situation. It absolutely is not.

      I have a Windows 10 notebook

      a Windows 10 desktop



      Apple Watch

      Apple CarPlay

      Apple HomePod




      To suggest that an individual must select one of these solutions to the exclusion of others is ridiculous.

      So, when we start talking about tablet-touch solutions like iPad - the whole issue of with or without keyboard and/or mouse is a non-issue... except doing them both on the same device is somewhat of a Swiss Army Knife kind-of a solution.

      To me, adding keyboard and/or mouse to iPad is somewhat of a solution looking for a problem to solve. Is it for people with limitations of some sort who can't select the appropriate device to fit a particular situation? Maybe they don't have the financial resources? Some other limitation?

    • nbplopes

      In reply to RobertJasiek:

      I agree with you on the first paragraph (One thumbs for that). But the rest was in my view just down hill from that.

      Don't see the point of the second paragraph. A smartphone is as much as a PC as is a tablet. so if one is not, surely the other follow suit.

      These all are computer, down to a smartwatch. But don't see your point either. A more clarifying point is to think of it like vehicles (Digital vehicles). You see, motorbikes, sedans, trucks ... are all vehicles. They share some characteristics, true, but what defines them iare their differences. The same thing happens in this space. It's not confusing at all as you seam to be so inclined to think.

      I find its an error to think what is the better computer. Is a motorbike better than a truck? What about a sedan, is it better than a plane. Why do people tend not to think as clearly in this space, it's down to an artifice of Marketing of one company, Microsoft. For MS everything was a PC and a PC meant Windows. And as long people remain confused by this fallacy meant that no one would consider anything else.

      Also its not about the iPad replacing the MacBook Air, or light weight laptops or any other PC at all in my view. At least in such abstract terms.

      I'm an amateur Street Photographer. Since 2016 I stopped editing my photos in the PC. Only use the PC for this for the very last edits and that for printing. Why? Because found the iPad Pro more efficient for that task than my PC. One can say that the iPad replaced the PC in this scenario, but it's such a negative stance towards the PC on what actually happened, that in practice really means nothing. Another negative stance is the expression "Good enough". No, it's not about being good enough but actually better in this case. Even professionals are discovering how much of a good tool it is for this all over the place.

      Now in a more Professional scenario, the back camera is something considered by "experts" without "any" merit. Including my self at points thought "why don't they get rid of the camera in the back and make it cheaper? What's the point?" Funny enough I've been slapped a couple of times in the face in the last year. Especially in the last couple of weeks. My wife a math teacher, like many, is forced to teach their students from home. You know what is part of the workflow now? She everyday take photos of exercises sheets, and post them on Google Classroom as assignments (kids have their own copies). She records are scribbles on top with voice over while recording and post the video. Way better than the Surface Pro 3 or her Lenovo Think Pad for that matter. So, again was not about being good enough, but actually better (funny enough she seamed to have got addicted to the iPad Pro, she started using it more than her MacBook Pro 15", still trying to understand what was the trigger).

      But again it's not about replacing. "Oh, let me see if I can use the iPad to replace a Mac, a ChromeBooks a Windows PC or whatever". Man, that it's such a futile exercise. Why would you want to do that? Are you so bored? Things happen more naturally, really. "Oh let me try do this here. Oh it works really well and its faster ..." "Or let me try do this here, ... Oh, it really bad, can't see myself using this ... period". No worries.

      So what is it all about? In my view it's about finding ways to do suff, better, faster if not more pleasant in context. Either it does that or it does not in context. It's not about replacing, or if it is good enough or not.

  2. nbplopes

    Hi, Just to share a theory of mine around how Apple has been managing the evolution of iPad. I believe the way Apple attacks its vision for the products and tech in general, is highly focused and cirurgical,. Without much room for Plan B's, more so in fundamental aspects. This does not allow them to attack at each stage a wide range of feature and usability aspects. On the other hand, allows them to present introduce features with a very high degree of depth, to the point and beyond some people might consider "anal". On the other hand, considering their historical track record, I also believe that they don't really look too much to the competition. Meaning, its not on their DNA to change plans as per competition. They always strive to control the narrative!

    Specifically with the context of mouse and keyboard support here is my theory. The iPad was designed to be touch first device. Yet the iPad has always supported the keyboard since inception, since iPad 1. In fact Apple offered a device just for that 10 years ago, 2010 (way before Surface, Windows 10 ....): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BQYSdKE8WRg

    This at least indicates, that both keyboard and mouse support was not at all outside their horizons for the product. The question was for them more of WHEN rather than IF:

    The Keyboard device mentioned above, was not successful by any means. People did not run to the shops to buy a keyboard for the iPad. This was not what people valued when it was introduced.

    Given this, I believe that the iPad designers thought that the product was not ready for second form of interaction, the Keyboard, much less for a third, the mouse. so decided to focus their attention in the designing the best touch language and OS as possible. This takes time. Look at iOS now and look at what It was. There is a huge difference while being familiar.

    8 years after the first keyboard device, in 2018 they launched a new one. One might take down that to the competition, Chromebook and Surface alike. That's. theory. Another one, is that they felt that the touch language and iOS in general the design team was ready to take on both keyboard, mouse interaction in significant ways. But first the keyboard. The iPad Smart Keyboard. It was much better received than the previous attempt.

    A couple years later, the mouse support. Will see how this turns out. And as Paul pointed, it all looks very natural doesn't it? Effortless and fresh at the same time. This does not happen just by slapping features and see what it sticks in my view.


    • truerock2

      In reply to nbplopes:

      Keyboard for the first iPad? How about a keyboard for the first iPhone to better make your point.

      Most hand-held solutions in the 1990s and the early 2000's incorporated a mechanical keypad and/or a stylus. Going to an all touch OS solution for iOS on the first iPhone popularized a better solution.

      Nevertheless, there were always external keyboards for iPhones. People in general are compelled to think about how to circumvent the limitations of an all-touch OS. But, it is "a difficult computer science problem" to solve.

      • nbplopes

        In reply to truerock2:

        In the video Paul said at 22:40 say that "eventually they released keyboard support". The fact is that keyboard support is baked in iOS since iPad 1. In fact back then they even sold a Keyboard Dock! But "no one" cared. What Apple did, is double down on what they and people cared, better OS, better display, more portability, improved app ecosystem ... so on and so forth. Keyboard and mouse support was not essential to do that. This is also a fact.

        I also disagree that Apple has hold the iPad back for not supporting the mouse since inception. Why? Because others provided mouse and keyboard support yet they don't offer better products for the kinds of problems the iPad was built to solve by a long margin.

        Also its naive to think that Apple never considered the mouse for the iPad. Less naive is to think they hold that support until they believed that other stuff was mature enough and the problem domain was well understood to cope with another form of interaction in ways that actually added value, rather than eschewing it into just another PC.

  3. brduffy

    Paul Thurrott : "Its not just that, but how many people didn't buy these things?" ... referring to apple macs because of the keyboards.

    EXACTLY!! I was ready to buy a new mac two years ago but I have been waiting for the MB Pro 13 to come out with a new keyboard.

  4. truerock2

    So, watching more of the What The Tech episode...

    There are people who are financially constrained and can't afford every best technology fit for what they are doing.

    Like most people, my first choice of the most indispensable computer device would be my iPhone (or whatever smart phone).

    That's probably true for most people.

    My financially constrained son who lives on doctoral research assistant slave wages accidentally found out his 2nd most indispensable computer device is a $200 11" Dell Windows 10 notebook PC.

    Manufacturers hate these things because they are afraid that people will find out about them and stop buying $500 Windows 10 notebook PCs.

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