Matthew Panzarino: ‘How Apple Reinvented the Cursor for iPad’

Matthew Panzarino, writing at TechCrunch:

Even though Apple did not invent the mouse pointer, history has cemented its place in dragging it out of obscurity and into mainstream use. Its everyday utility, pioneered at Xerox Parc and later combined with a bit of iconic* work from Susan Kare at Apple, has made the pointer our avatar in digital space for nearly 40 years.

What a great lede. The best way to understand the breakthrough that was the 1984 Mac interface is that the on-screen pointer was the user’s avatar. That’s you. And you use the mouse to navigate around what you see on the screen.

Then, a few weeks ago, Apple dropped a new kind of pointer — a hybrid between these two worlds of pixels and pushes. The iPad’s cursor, I think, deserves closer examination. It’s a seminal bit of remixing from one of the most closely watched idea factories on the planet.

In order to dive a bit deeper on the brand new cursor and its interaction models, I spoke to Apple SVP Craig Federighi about its development and some of the choices by the teams at Apple that made it. First, let’s talk about some of the things that make the cursor so different from what came before … and yet strangely familiar.

I suspect what Apple has done with the mouse pointer on iPadOS is going to get ripped off far and wide. It’s too natural, too obviously correct.

Wednesday, 6 May 2020