Turn your iPad into a Tool for Thought

Apple’s Human Interface Guidelines on Pointers for iPadOS

Speaking of the design considerations that went into iPadOS’ cursor, I suggest reading Apple’s new HIG document on the dynamic/adaptive pointer:

iPadOS 13.4 introduces dynamic pointer effects and behaviors that enhance the experience of using a pointing device with iPad. As people use a pointing device, iPadOS automatically adapts the pointer to the current context, providing rich visual feedback and just the right level of precision needed to enhance productivity and simplify common tasks.

The iPadOS pointing system gives people an additional way to interact with apps and content — it doesn’t replace touch. Some people may continue to use touch only, while others may prefer to use the pointer or a combination of both. Let people choose how to interact with your app, and avoid condensing your interface or making changes that require them to use the pointer.

And this part on “pointer magnetism”:

In addition to bringing focus to elements through pointer transformations and content effects, iPadOS can also help people target an element by making the element appear to attract the pointer. People can experience this magnetic effect when they move the pointer close to an element and when they flick the pointer toward an element.

When people move the pointer close to an element, the system starts transforming the pointer’s shape as soon as it reaches an element’s hit region. Because the hit region typically extends beyond an element’s visible boundaries, the pointer begins to transform before it appears to touch the element, creating the illusion that the element is pulling the pointer toward it.

Thoughtful, detailed read (as usual per Apple’s HIG) with illustrations that help get a sense of what’s possible with pointer customization (it doesn’t look like the Keynote update with cursor support mentioned in the document is out yet). Reading this, it’s clear that Apple didn’t simply bring the Mac’s cursor to the iPad – they started from the basic idea and redesigned it around a different platform.