Strong rumors suggest iOS could finally be getting mouse input support and that it could be coming to the iPad Pro. The rumor comes courtesy of Federico Viticci of MacStories, who mentioned it on the Connected podcast. Developer Steve Troughton-Smith then confirmed the rumor on Twitter.
Troughton-Smith then elaborated, noting that mouse support would likely be an accessibility feature. So instead of changing the core way one interacts with iOS it would be an optional switch to flick for anyone who decides they need it—from people who might not be able to use touch screens currently, to folks who just don’t like them but find the thin profile of something like an iPad appealing.
Which is lovely because while the new iPad is very nice, it’s still not quite the productivity beast that Apple promises it is. It’s seemingly powerful for a tablet (though there are few applications that make it work as hard as any laptop), it’s got a great big screen, it’s got USB-C and support for an external display—it even has a keyboard...if you’re willing to spend the money on a keyboard case. What it does not have is any kind of support for a mouse, which makes it a nightmare for editing big text documents or doing anything that requires really fine control (the Pencil is a nice stop gap, but also $100).
Besides Troughton-Smith and Viticci there are other good reasons to suspect mouse support is coming. As Slashgear noted, a new feature is rumored to be coming to macOS 10.15 this year. Known as “Sidecar” this feature would build in support for using an iOS device as a secondary screen for a macOS device. There are a few apps that currently do it, but typically when Apple decides to adopt a popular system introduced by another app it does it with just a little more polish, which could mean connecting would be more seamless than something like Duet Display.
Mouse support also props up the theory that Apple is planning some kind of ARM-based or iOS-based laptop. Either of those would be a lot easier to do if mouse support is finally built in.
As for when this new feature could actually arrive (if it is indeed in the works), there’s no clear date to point to. It could be as early as this June when iOS 13 will be announced at WWDC, or it could be well down the line. We’ve reached out to Apple for comment and will update should we receive any comment, but if you know something about the project you can reach me via email, DM me for Signal, hit Gizmodo up at firstname.lastname@example.org or reach us very securely via SecureDrop.