I did say these would be irregular, didn’t I?
What you didn’t know you wanted
“Some people say, “Give the customers what they want.” But that’s not my approach. Our job is to figure out what they’re going to want before they do. I think Henry Ford once said, “If I’d asked customers what they wanted, they would have told me, ‘A faster horse!'” People don’t know what they want until you show it to them. That’s why I never rely on market research. Our task is to read things that are not yet on the page.”Steve Jobs
After seeing the early iPadOS pointer support arrive in the form of an accessibility feature, and after hearing several prominent iPad-first podcasters say how much they loved it and wanted more, and after listening to those same podcasters imagine what they might get… I was utterly unsold on the idea of a mouse-or-trackpad-driven pointer in iOS.
There were already gripes about how confusing the touch interface was for users, and for developers. 3D Touch came and went, leaving confusing long-press functions that seemed to collide with one another, causing unintended actions for users and leaving no clear direction for developers. How could a pointer not make this worse? Grafting a macOS pointer onto iPadOS would further confuse everything. Wouldn’t it?
After watching this, I downloaded the pre-release iPadOS and gave it a try — using a Magic Trackpad 2 that’s only marginally smaller than the size of my iPad mini 5’s screen. It’s really good!
Apple have not simply grafted on a desktop OS pointer, nor adapted touch input to a floating dot. Instead, they re-invented how a pointer behaves. It’s not even, really, a pointer, but a selector.
Thinking back, I still believe I was right. Everything the pundits were discussing about pointer support on iPadOS was chasing the wrong horse. We didn’t get a faster horse. We got what we didn’t know we wanted. But, oh, how I want it now…
I keep seeing people online claiming they’re going to have a lot more spare time at home because they’re self isolating, sheltering in place, or otherwise not going out and risking themselves and others against this current global threat.
I feel robbed. Normally for me, going out is, largely by choice, a fairly uncommon event. So I don’t feel like I’m getting anything in return for staying home.
It’s not that I’m complaining, as such. It’s just an observation. An observation that I am different to some people. And that’s a really important thing to keep in mind in these unprecedented times. Everyone is different.
That concludes this edition of Echoes. The comments are open, but will be moderated for civility. Alternatively you can hit me up on Twitter, where I go by @zkarj.
Header image Copyright © Apple, Inc.