With iPadOS 13.4 out for a while we’ve had enough experience using the newly enabled trackpad to have a preference between a mouse or a trackpad for iPadOS.
Both devices will get the new magnetic cursor found in the operating system as long as the application you’re in supports it. If the application was built without a bunch of custom UI then it should get the magnetic cursor for free. If there is custom UI involved then it’s up to the application developer to update their UI to provide support for the magnetic cursor.
The trackpad support also brought us a bunch of extra support for gestures. You can swipe with two fingers to change home screen views. You can two finger click to bring up the context menu without the wait for a long press on the UI element. Conversely, a mouse doesn’t get these gestures and while you can remap the right click to bring up context menu’s that does mean you have to wait just like you would with a long press.
Where you can use a 3-finger swipe up to get to the home screen with a trackpad, the mouse has to swipe down into the little pill at the bottom twice. The first interaction brings up the dock and the second takes you back to the home screen. You also access multitasking mode with this same interaction, it’s just a different amount of dragging to get multitasking instead of the home screen. With the trackpad you can use a 4-finger pinch in to go directly to the multitasking view in a way that feels much easier to accomplish without errors.
Overall, if all you have is a mouse and you’re looking to get a better ergonomic iPad setup then you should use what you have. It’s not bad, but using an Apple Magic Trackpad 2 is better. No third-party trackpads aren’t nearly as nice so don’t even bother with them. I tested a trackpad on an iPad laptop case and it wasn’t nice at all and none of the reviews of other options make me believe any of the other trackpad options work any better. Use the mouse you have or purchase a Magic Trackpad.
When we can get out and work at a coffee shop again I plan to take my trackpad with me. If you’re wondering about my thoughts on the Magic Keyboard that Apple released as a mobile work station, I’ll get to that in the coming weeks. Suffice to say, it’s expensive and I’m not sure...yet.
You may ask about the utility of the Magic Mouse. I don’t have one I can test currently, but from the videos I’ve watched it’s only a bit better than a regular mouse. You get a few gestures, but the trackpad is superior.
Since I purchased a Magic Trackpad 2 I haven’t used my mouse with my iPad at all. My mouse has stayed connected to my Mac Mini and my trackpad has stayed with my iPad Pro. I haven’t gone as far as taking the trackpad with me around the house to work, but I have put it on the arm of the couch in my office when I’m sitting there to do some work. The trackpad experience on iPadOS is something I love more than the mouse experience.