The new Magic Keyboard for the iPad Pro is one of the most important additions to the tablet line-up in years. The on-board trackpad goes a long way to replicating natural laptop use and, combined with the new cursor support in iPad OS, boosts the proposition as a full-on notebook replacement.
But there are still some gaps to fill. Namely compatibility with Microsoft’s all-important Office for iPad productivity suite, which is reportedly now on the way.
According to a report from The Verge, Microsoft is planning to roll out updates to Word, Excel and Powerpoint that would include cursor support for a mouse and trackpad, including the one housed within the Magic keyboard. Presumably it would also work with the Magic Trackpad Apple sells for its iMac range.
The integration is coming by this autumn, the report says, which would be earlier than previous predictions from TechCrunch that support would arrive in the autumn.
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It’d be an important milestone for Office users seeking to transfer their work to the iPad, making it far easier to place the cursor without having to touch the screen.
Apple revealed cursor support in March when it unveiled the Magic Keyboard for the iPad Pro. For example, the mouse pointer will, like a traditional cursor, only appear when the user touches the trackpad. As for the pointer itself, it’ll be a represented by a circular dot on the display.
The pointer will also change shape depending on what it is currently hovering over. For example, if you hover over the trash icon in the Mail app, it will be shaded by a rectangle. The trackpad itself, while enabling users to shift the cursor around and click it into place, also offers a host of the multi-touch gestures we’ve learned on Mac laptops.
It’ll be possible to pinch-to-zoom using the trackpad, while some navigation gestures are also supported. For example, you can return to the home screen by swiping up with three fingers, you can slide between open apps by swiping horizontally with three fingers, and you can also summon Slide Over apps by moving the pointer to the right hand side of the display.
While highly expensive (from $329) it is quite a complex piece of gear that enables Apple’s top tablet to appear as if it floating above the keys.