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The iPad inches ever closer to computer gaming with mouse and keyboard support

Sayonara Wild Hearts and Apple Arcade with a DualShock 4 controller
Sayonara Wild Hearts and Apple Arcade with a DualShock 4 controller (Image credit: Christine Romero-Chan / iMore)

This week at WWDC, Apple has announced that keyboard and mouse gaming is coming to the iPad with iPadOS 14. This was during a developer session, and of course, game developers will have to add in the Game Controller framework to their games before players can make use of a keyboard and mouse in their sessions.

While I'm not saying that an iPad will replace PC gaming (because even Macs certainly don't surpass PCs when it comes to gaming), this is an exciting addition for those who enjoy gaming on their iPad.

The iPad is a fully capable gaming machine in its own right

For many, the iPad has become their main source of gaming, instead of a standard console or even a gaming computer. And why not? There are a ton of games available on the App Store, including the exclusive Apple Arcade titles, so the variety of games to play is certainly there.

When the iPad was first introduced, we were mostly stuck with on-screen touch controls, and then we started to get support for third-party controllers. With iOS 13, we got the option for using DualShock 4 and Xbox One S controllers, eliminating the need to look for strictly MFi controllers. And with iOS 13.4, the iPad was getting mouse and keyboard support for general use. So it's only natural that the mouse and keyboard support are finally extending to the gaming side of things.

While I personally am not a big fan of first-player shooter (FPS) games because I am terrible at them, I always found it hard to play them with a game controller instead of a keyboard and mouse. Honestly, I feel that using the mouse to control where I'm aiming is much more precise than relying on a joystick, and moving around is also easier with a keyboard. Comparatively, gamepads just aren't as accurate.

Of course, that's just one use case for mouse and keyboard gaming support for the iPad. During the panel, it was also mentioned that the mouse and keyboard gaming support could be utilized for entirely new interaction experiences, so it's pretty exciting to think about what's possible.

They also mentioned additional support for the Xbox Elite Wireless Controller Series 2 and Adaptive Controller. With these, game developers will also be able to add custom haptics to their iPhone and iPad games. It's just amazing how far iPad gaming has advanced in recent years.

iPad gaming is advancing, but it's not a replacement for everything else

Again, as amazing as it's been to see how far gaming on iPhone and iPad have come, I'm not saying that it's going to surpass consoles and PCs. There will be triple-A games for consoles and PCs that won't ever get ported over to iPad and iPhone, and that's okay. I have different expectations when it comes to gaming on iPad anyways, and it's nice to have the variety.

iPad and Mac gaming may probably never beat PlayStations and Xbox and PC, and I get that. But it's pretty incredible that the iPad is going to have mouse and keyboard support in the upcoming iPadOS 14 — it's just bridging the gap between iPad and Mac gaming.

Regardless, I'm excited to see what game developers come up with now that a whole new world of peripherals can be supported with iPadOS.

Are you excited about keyboard and mouse gaming support in iPadOS? Sound off in the comments.

Christine Chan
Senior Editor

Christine Romero-Chan has been writing about technology, specifically Apple, for over a decade at a variety of websites. She is currently the iMore lead on all things iPhone, and has been using Apple’s smartphone since the original iPhone back in 2007. While her main speciality is the iPhone, she also covers Apple Watch, iPad, and Mac when needed.

When she isn’t writing about Apple, Christine can often be found at Disneyland in Anaheim, California, as she is a passholder and obsessed with all things Disney, especially Star Wars. Christine also enjoys coffee, food, photography, mechanical keyboards, and spending as much time with her new daughter as possible.

2 Comments
  • Hopefully Minecraft will adopt this API
  • I would hope that the iPad doesn't emulate the state of Mac Gaming D: All kidding aside, I'm really excited to see the extension of Mouse and Keyboard support. I hope that mobile MMOs will adapt to this, they already work well with the limited keyboard and pointer support, but could be even better with an addition of hotkey mapping and macros.