First impressions of text editing with iOS 13.4 trackpad support

Today I tried out iOS 13.4’s new trackpad pointer control with the two text editors I use the most: Drafts and Textastic.

It works quite well in Drafts. The pointer changes smoothly from circle to vertical line when you move it from a blank area into a text area and you can put and drag the cursor to any position. The only problem I’ve seen is that dragging text from one place and dropping it in another—which I’ve done by mistake a couple of times—is not undoable. This isn’t undoable when you drag with your finger, either, but I’ve never mistakenly dragged text with my finger before.

It’s pretty much useless in Textastic—maybe worse than useless. The pointer stays a circle no matter where it is and works exactly like your finger: taps always put the cursor at either the beginning or end of a word. Worse, I’ve sometimes been unable to use my finger to reposition the cursor when the trackpad is connected. Textastic is clearly doing something nonstandard that the new system doesn’t like.

Textastic’s developer has been good at keeping up, and he certainly added lots of features last year, so I suspect this problem will be temporary. Like everyone who’s written about the new trackpad support in the past couple of days, I’m finding it a big improvement on the clunky text selection we’ve had up until now.


Very temporary. An update is out now!


I like the cursor on my iPad. I am using a trackball instead of a trackpad. It feels natural, though I had to fiddle a bit to figure out a few things, like swiping left and write on a mail message to activate actions.

Would be interesting to see this cursor come to macOS as an option.

A few glitches. The i-beam mode fades in and out in the background in some apps — like typing into this Discourse edit box in Safari. (There are several other cursor glitches in Discourse.).

The cursor does not always behave as shown in Federighi’s intro video.

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