A New Smart Keyboard Design May Be Coming Later This Year

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While I own a Smart Keyboard Folio for the current gen iPad Pro, I have never been a fan of this accessory. I really disliked previous versions and I primarily tolerated the Folio because it was the only keyboard case option when the current iPad Pro released. Now that I have a Brydge Keyboard and Cover, my Smart Keyboard Folio sits idle and unused.

My biggest complaint with the Smart Keyboards to this point have been, well…the keyboards. I am not a fan of the stiff key action and ultra-minimal design. I realize that its keys don’t have any moving parts and I understand there are advantages to that. This makes the Smart Keyboard spillproof and extremely durable. However, these keys just don’t measure up to the feel and functionality of a real keyboard with a solid scissor mechanism.

The other big problem with the Smart Keyboards is the lack of a backlight and additional functionality. Most third party keyboard cases for the iPad Pro have this feature and also cost less, to boot. Add in other amenities like long battery life, dedicated function keys and now even more advanced features like touchpads and additional ports, and you get a lot better value from many competing keyboard accessories.

A few weeks ago, I made the following prediction for the iPad Pro this year:

I think Apple has too much invested in the Smart Keyboard and Smart Keyboard Folio to just abandon them. I’m not predicting that. I’m also not predicting that Apple will add a trackpad to either of them. Rather, I think its time for Apple to release a new product in addition to the Smart Keyboard Folio- a professional quality keyboard case that is more in line with what we usually expect from Logitech, Brydge or ZAGG. It would fully enclose the iPad, provide a hinge that allows the it to be positioned at any angle, include backlit keys (for the love of God, please) and the same scissor key mechanism that the Magic Keyboard and latest MacBooks have. A great bonus feature would be one or more additional USB-C ports to add additional peripherals without the need for a hub.

Well, if Digitimes is correct, then maybe I nailed this one. Well, a small part of it, at least. According to a report today (via 9to5Mac), Apple will be releasing a new Smart Keyboard in 2020 that will include the same scissor key mechanism found on the new 16″ MacBook Pros and the Magic Keyboard and will have backlit keys. While I would prefer to see a new product with all of the features described above, I will absolutely give Apple my money and be very happy to get better keys and a backlight. The revamped Smart Keyboard that Digitimes predicts would be a big improvement, in my opinion.

Digitimes doesn’t make any mention of a trackpad on this new Smart Keyboard. That doesn’t necessarily mean that Apple won’t be expanding support for mice and trackpads beyond Assistive Touch in iPadOS 14, but I am a little disappointed that it isn’t mentioned. Maybe we will hear more about this later in the year. That, or it’s possible that Apple just leaves this to the 3rd party accessory makers who are already cranking out iPad keyboards with trackpads and more built in.

Digitimes’ good news also extends to Mac users, as their article mirrors Ming-Chi Kuo’s earlier prediction that Apple will update all their other MacBooks from butterfly to scissor keyboards in 2020, starting with the 13″ MacBook Pro. All in all, this is very good news for both iPad and Mac fans, as Apple’s revamped keyboard design has gotten great reviews and should be a big improvement across the board.


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