I got my Brydge Pro+ keyboard with trackpad for the iPad Pro right on the heels of my Magic Keyboard a few weeks ago. The backlit keyboard and overall hardware quality are great, which is what I expect after owning and using a Brydge Pro for months before this. However, what everyone wants to know about is the Pro+’s new trackpad.
While I initially found single-finger tracking with trackpad to be great, the rest was kind of a mess. I didn’t hold the lack of three-finger gestures against Brydge in my first post on the hardware since the Pro+ was developed before Apple added full trackpad support to iPadOS. That said, the absence of this feature is a problem in head-to-head comparisons with Apple’s own Magic Keyboard. Bad timing and luck aside, there’s just no way Brydge can side step that.
The bigger problem with the Pro+’s trackpad is with something that is was designed to do- two-finger scrolling, That was included with the shipping hardware, but it did not work well at all. It was highly erratic, jumping and skipping from the top to the bottom of web pages and often triggering huge rebound effects at one end or the other. Brydge has been proactive in trying to smooth things out since the Pro+ released, which is good. There have been two firmware updates for the Pro+ over the last month. While two-finger scrolling still needs a little work, it was at least usable after the last release.
I got another email from Brydge last week after Apple released iPadOS 13.5 saying that performance has further improved with this release. While I didn’t notice anything right after loading the new update from Apple, Brydge did include a tip in their email that going to Settings-Accessibility-Motion and turning on the Reduce Motion setting would help smooth out two-finger scrolling. Now this did help.
The Pro+’s two-finger scrolling is still an update or two away from being on par with the Magic Keyboard. It is still a little inconsistent and stutters a bit, but there has been a lot of improvement over how the trackpad functioned at release. The problem for Brydge is that they have to close this gap quickly to give the Pro+ a chance to be considered a viable, less-expensive alternative to the Magic Keyboard. I’m a Brydge fan, but this product still isn’t quite there yet.
It’s also worth mentioning is that there was an odd thing from Brydge that I took note of last week. There was a tweet on their @brydgetech account last Wednesday that I retweeted saying that the Pro+’s trackpad is fully multi-touch capable. I took note because that made it seem like more features like three-finger gestures could be possible with the trackpad hardware.
Interesting…that conflicts with some info I got a few weeks ago, but good to hear. Keep the firmware updates coming. https://t.co/H78TGw2nXu
— iPad Insight (@iPadInsightBlog) May 21, 2020
It sounded like good news to me at the time, because an earlier response I got from Brydge tech support made it sound like three-finger tracking wasn’t possible. The person who responded to me didn’t say that specifically, but it was clear that the company is focusing on improving two-finger operation in future firmwares.
Well, as you can see above, the tweet from Brydge has been deleted. That’s…strange. I understand that the people behind this product are probably on the defensive because there was a lot of demand for the Pro+ when it was announced, followed by some backlash because of the timing of development and release. However, unclear product messaging like this deleted tweet isn’t helping their cause. It’s just confusing.
Like I said before, I’m a fan of Brydge and their products. I also think competition and choice are always good things, so I hope they can pull it together and get the Pro+ up to speed. Its different form factor and cheaper price both work in their favor, but they need to get both the problems and their messaging worked out before reviewers can recommend it as a legitimate contender to the Magic Keyboard. I hope they do, but there’s still more work for them to do.