iPad Pro gets one step closer to gaming laptops with this update

iPad Pro gaming
(Image credit: Future)

Gaming on the iPad Pro has been ... well, a mixed bag. Sure, Apple's high-end tablet has a big, bright screen and a super-fast A12Z processor, but input methods have still mostly focused on touch, so it's not exactly replaced anybody's laptop. However, new features coming in iPadOS 14 look to make the iPad more of a gamer-friendly device.

One of iPadOS 14's hidden features that Apple didn't brag about on stage at WWDC 2020 is that mouse and keyboard support are finally coming to the iPad. It's both an overdue addition that could make Apple Arcade games a bit more capable and help Apple's overall renewed push for more gaming on its devices.

Apple revealed the keyboard and mouse support in a video made for developers, showing how to add those new features to their apps. At WWDC, Apple also revealed that it's adding support for the Xbox Elite Wireless Series 2 controller and the Xbox Adaptive Controller. 

As The Verge notes, current keyboard and mouse support on iPad is "really lackluster," and requires extra clicks and work, for a non-native-feeling experience.

I'm surprised Apple hadn't added Adaptive Controller support earlier, as the company has long championed accessibility features that open up their devices to more users. 

iOS 14, iPadOS 14 and tvOS are also gaining pro-level features like controller button remapping (in case you want to reverse the buttons you approve and cancel with), and controllers with haptic feedback and rumbling. Apple's devices will also support lighting, touchpads and paddles. Those first two are most tied to taking advantage of Sony's DualShock controller features, while the third is more meant for Xbox controllers.

Apple's also building in support for battery level, so your system can better tell you when you need to recharge. Motion control support, another gimme for iOS and iPadOS games that have long used the internal motion sensors, is also coming.  

With these features, as well as 3D audio support for AirPods, Apple seems to be aware of all the changes in the gaming landscape. All it needs now is the rumored Apple TV 2020 box that's expected to be faster and (hopefully) ready for the next generation of gaming. Sure, Apple Arcade has some neat and nice-looking games, but with the revolutionary PS5 and Xbox Series X on the horizon, the Apple TV needs to be propped up with more power.

Henry T. Casey
Managing Editor (Entertainment, Streaming)

Henry is a managing editor at Tom’s Guide covering streaming media, laptops and all things Apple, reviewing devices and services for the past seven years. Prior to joining Tom's Guide, he reviewed software and hardware for TechRadar Pro, and interviewed artists for Patek Philippe International Magazine. He's also covered the wild world of professional wrestling for Cageside Seats, interviewing athletes and other industry veterans.