It looks like Apple may finally adopt full mouse support for the iPad. According to a report from The Information, Apple is developing an iPad keyboard that has a trackpad built into it and may launch the new product alongside a new iPad Pro model later this year.
If the information turns out to be correct, it will be the latest instance of Apple bringing a laptop-associated feature to the iPad.
When Apple first released the new iPadOS operating system, which is essentially an iPad-focused fork of the iOS mobile operating system, it introduced some mouse support — however, the feature was limited to being a part of the AssistiveTouch accessibility feature. When the feature is enabled, instead of a usual mouse cursor, you’ll see a circle on the screen aimed at emulating the touch of a finger.
That said, iPadOS was largely seen as a way for Apple to add more productivity-focused features to the iPad without needing to also add them to the iPhone.
Of course, even if Apple does launch an iPad keyboard with a trackpad, that doesn’t necessarily mean that it will add full mouse support. For starters, at least initially, mouse support could be limited to the Apple-made keyboard — meaning you may not be able to simply use the Bluetooth mouse you already have. Not only that, but support for the trackpad or mouse may be limited by the software. There’s no word yet on whether or not Apple will support things like the right-click, and it may instead try to bake normal touch gestures into how the mouse works with the iPad.
Apple actually wouldn’t be the first manufacturer to develop a touchpad keyboard for the iPad. When the Assistive Touch feature was added, accessory-maker Brydge began developing an iPad keyboard that also had a touchpad. The keyboard essentially makes the iPad look more like a MacBook. The keyboard is currently available for pre-order, and supports the 11-inch iPad Pro and the 12.9-inch iPad Pro.
There have been other rumors about upcoming keyboards for the iPad, too. A Digitimes rumor suggests Apple will release a Smart Keyboard with backlit keys this fall. The Information’s report didn’t note backlit keys, so we’ll have to wait and see if these are the same accessories or not.