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In Praise of the iPadOS 13.4 Cursor

Jason Snell:

I want to take a moment to appreciate the delicate and whimsical animated appearance of the cursor in iPadOS 13.4, which was released today.

It’s delightful. It’s like a little cartoon character, the plucky dot who is up to any challenge, even if it means contorting itself into whatever form is required.

Consider the animation when it enters and exits an existing button. The circle oozes out into a curved rectangle, like it’s some sort of sticky blob. When it’s over the active area, the whole button tilts as if the blob is pulling it around. Move far enough, though, and the blob breaks back off of the button and returns to its traditional shape as a simple circle.

After playing around with the cursor for a few hours last week, I noted that it felt instantly natural – like it had been part of UIKit for years. Those first impressions still hold true. The iPad’s new cursor is whimsical and useful at the same time – a rare combination these days. And like all feature additions that feel “obvious” in hindsight, it’s clear that a lot of consideration went into rethinking the traditional cursor for a platform where touch control also exists.