Wolverton: Apple’s new iPad has a pointing problem

Apple is touting its new, smaller iPad Pro as the “ultimate PC replacement.” But there’s one big hitch in that pitch: You still can’t use a mouse with an iPad.

The company long ago built into iOS, the software underlying the iPhone and iPad, the ability to support external keyboards and even game controllers. But iOS gadgets have never supported traditional pointing devices. You can’t use a mouse or trackpad or trackball with them.

That limitation hasn’t changed with the new 9.7-inch iPad Pro that Apple unveiled at its press event on Monday. An Apple representative confirmed the lack of mouse support in the new iPad in the showroom where the company was showcasing its new devices after the event.

But that shortcoming wasn’t mentioned in Apple’s presentation. Instead, company officials repeatedly played up how great the new device would be for PC owners. Phil Schiller, the company’s marketing chief, highlighted the new device the features and specifications, repeatedly playing up its potential as a PC substitute.

Schiller noted that while the new model has a smaller screen than the first iPad Pro, which Apple launched last fall, it has the same powerful A9X processor, which offers processing and graphics capabilities that are close to that of some laptops. He also noted that the new device has an even better screen than that of the larger iPad Pro — and by implication, many laptops — with a wider color gamut and less screen reflectivity. And like the first model, it supports both Apple Pencil, the high-tech stylus the company designed, and a special keyboard that connects magnetically to the tablet.

Unlike the cutting edge new iPad, some 600 million PCs in use are five years old are older, he said.

“That’s really sad,” Schiller said. When consumers see the what the new iPad Pro offers in terms of features and capabilities, he added, “many will see it as the ultimate PC replacement.”

But maybe not, if they considered some of the iPad’s limitations, most notably, its inability to support a pointing device. Unlike on a laptop, where you can typically use a trackpad to select text or position a cursor on the screen, on the iPad, you either have to use your finger or the arrow keys on an attached keyboard, if you have one. When you are typing on a physical keyboard, having to reach across to touch a screen can be awkward and tends not to be as precise as using a pointing device. And using the arrow keys can be slow.

Relying on either method can make typing a document or editing a movie a much more tedious process than on a typical PC.

And the iPad has other limitations compared to PCs. Among them: it doesn’t support full windowing of applications, so you can’t view more than two apps at a time; it doesn’t support multiple user log-ins, so you can’t easily share a device among co-workers; and iOS’s AirPrint feature only supports a limited number of printers.

Don’t get me wrong. The new iPad Pro seems like a great device. And just like past iPads, there are many tasks for which we previously used PCs that it can do just fine. It’s great for surfing the Web and watching movies. The support for Pencil should make it an excellent tool for artists and even note-takers.

But it’s still got a ways to go to be a real PC killer.

Apple CEO Tim Cook shows off a new 9.7-inch iPad Pro  following the company’s product announcement at its Cupertino headquarters on Monday. (Karl Mondon/Bay Area News Group)

 

Tags: , , ,

 

Share this Post



 
 
 
  • bobringer

    Can’t use a floppy disk either…

    • Eric

      PCs don’t have floppy disks either.

  • TJ

    Where’s my VT100 terminal, and the serial port!?! I need an RS232 connector or this thing is worthless. Wait, you mean it doesn’t have a CRT either!

    Seriously, can ANYONE be a tech writer now?

  • flux8

    It’s not a “shortcoming”. It’s a design choice intended to eliminate the need for a pointing device. Introducing a pointer to iOS removes almost the entire point of iOS existing at all. AND the million of apps, all of which were explicitly designed with the finger as a navigation tool in mind.

    Everything you describe already exists if the user absolutely needs it – MacBooks with OS X.

    • But in that case, it can’t be called a “PC replacement.” You basically just reiterated the point of the article.

      • Jurassic

        A car can be an excellent truck replacement for those people who decide that they don’t need a large truck to accomplish all of the tasks they need done.

        No one ever said that an iPad is a good PC replacement for EVERYONE, but it definitely is an excellent PC replacement for MANY people who can use the iPad to do everything they did using their PCs.

        There are some situations where a PC is a better choice, just as there are some situations where an iPad is a better choice than a PC.

      • jfutral

        Being a PC replacement is not the same thing as being a PC.

        Joe

  • Jurassic

    “But iOS gadgets have never supported traditional pointing devices. You can’t use a mouse or trackpad or trackball with them.”

    This is a joke, right???

    Hello! It’s an iPad. It’s operating system and apps are all designed for multi-touch. In fact, there are over a million multi-touch apps designed specifically for the iPad.

    It would be ludicrous for anyone to want to use a mouse with an iPad, as it is totally unnecessary and in fact makes using software on the iPad much more difficult.

    You might as well be wondering why your car doesn’t have a rudder and sails.

    PCs on the other hand have apps that have been designed to require the use of a mouse or trackpad. This is why, for the Microsoft Surface (which is a PC), an external mouse or trackpad is compulsory for using all of those Windows desktop applications.

    Troy, once you can differentiate between the human interfaces of a PC and an iPad you will understand that not having a mouse or trackpad with the iPad is a BENEFIT… Not a detriment!

  • Jurassic

    “But iOS gadgets have never supported traditional pointing devices. You can’t use a mouse or trackpad or trackball with them.”

    This is a joke, right???

    Hello! It’s an iPad. It’s operating system and apps are all designed for multi-touch. In fact, there are over a million multi-touch apps designed specifically for the iPad.

    It would be ludicrous for anyone to want to use a mouse with an iPad, as it is totally unnecessary and in fact makes using software on the iPad much more difficult.

    You might as well be wondering why your car doesn’t have a rudder and sails.

    PCs on the other hand have apps that have been designed to require the use of a mouse or trackpad. This is why, for the Microsoft Surface (which is a PC), an external mouse or trackpad is compulsory for using all of those Windows desktop applications.

    Troy, once you can differentiate between the human interfaces of a PC and an iPad you will understand that not having a mouse or trackpad with the iPad is a BENEFIT… Not a detriment!

    • Katie Wallace

      When I looked at the draft of 6355 dollars, I have faith that brother of my friend was like really generating cash in his free time with his PC..pll His aunt’s neighbor has done this for only 11 months and by now repaid the loan on their home and bought a new Car.

      For Details Click Here
      sw…

    • bobododo

      It’s not ludicrous. A lot of what is done in business is text editing and as is mentioned in the article, doing so on an iPad is an amazingly frustrating experience – one which would be greatly alleviated if a mouse was supported.

      Also, in many businesses there is a need to remote to other PCs, servers, Macs, etc. However, doing so from an iPad without mouse support is a ridiculously awkward experience.

      If Apple wants to increase its penetration in the business users arena they have to add some kind of rudimentary mouse support to iOS.

 
 
css.php