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Snippet: Who Would Have Thought an iPad Cursor Could Be So Much Fun? ☇

Shared on March 25, 2020

Craig Mod for Wired (via John Gruber):

Move the pointer above a button and the circle morphs into the button itself, “snapping” into it, enveloping it like an amoeba, causing it to glow in a pleasing way. What this means is that the usual precision of a trackpad isn’t required to get exact hits on navigational elements. If you own an Apple TV, you’re already familiar with this vibe—it’s how the cursor on the TV “jumps” from icon to icon with a kind of sticky momentum. Similarly, on the iPad home screen, you can “lazily” slam the cursor around and have it lock onto applications with an eerie telepathy not experienced on a desktop OS. […]

And yet somehow, the overall effect of using a trackpad with an iPad is more convincing than direct manipulation, less exhausting, and simply more fun. This is in part because the cursor lives in the same virtual space as the interface in a way our finger never can. It’s a native part of the system. The cursor telegraphs what’s to come—what may or may not happen if you tap. It highlights what is or isn’t tappable, even. An old cursor became the same I beam over any size text. The new cursor becomes an I beam the size of the text field itself, so even if the field is empty, you sort of “know” what will happen and can begin to feel the underlying logic of the interface before you dive in.

I was looking forward to this feature and it sort of exemplifies the iPad as a whole—the Mac grew up and got more serious and acts like a traditional computer, while the iPad has become the computer that Apple can offer a little whimsy and fun. Neither is the “wrong” answer, but it seems that they mostly nailed it with this feature on the iPad.

My only gripe is that with Apple’s own input devices, the original Magic Trackpad and Magic Mouse don’t have all the gesture support (yet?), while the Magic Trackpad 2 and Magic Mouse 2 work fine. I swapped trackpads between my Mac and iPad to have the most capable one on each device, but keep this in mind if you have older ones.

Snippets are posts that share a linked item with a bit of commentary.