Will Apple Up Its iPad Pro Keyboard Game in 2020?

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I’m a huge fan of the iPad Pro, but I’ve been critical of one aspect of the device: the available first-party keyboard. Even though I found Apple’s Smart Keyboard Folio to be better than the original Smart Keyboard, that isn’t saying much. I know these keyboards have a lot of fans, but I not among them. I just really do not like the key action AT ALL.

Also, the lack of versatility and features for the high price is just disappointing. There’s no key backlight. Both the original and the Folio are limiting as far as available positions. There’s no extra protection for the Apple Pencil. Add the fact that the key action is very stiff and you just have a very mediocre product, in my book. It is portable and the Folio does offer decent protection for the iPad. That’s about as much good as I can say about it. You can see what I thought back when the iPad Pro was released here. My opinion hasn’t improved with age.

I’ve been using the Brydge keyboard case with my iPad Pro for a while now, as it beats the Smart Keyboard Folio like a drum for the way I use my Pro. Because of this, I had kind of put the Folio and my disappointment with Apple’s keyboards in general, out of my mind. However, yesterday I was reminded of my earlier thoughts on it and my wish that Logitech had released an updated version of their 12.9″ Slim Combo keyboard case updated for the iPad Pro’s current design and the new Smart Connector. It was a Tweet from Matt Birchler, a tech blogger and podcaster who I follow and who’s opinion I respect, that brought this back to mind.

I obviously don’t share his assessment of the Smart Keyboard Folio. However, I definitely agree with this Tweet and it’s the reason I brought up the Logitech Slim Combo. That keyboard case had a lot of the features mentioned above and that’s what made it one of my favorites of all time. It had the kickstand, a pretty much perfect keyboard with a great backlight, Smart Connector compatibility and a holder for the Apple Pencil.

I would LOVE to see Apple step up and deliver the keyboard described above. One with keys and a backlight that is as good as what I expect from Logitech or Brydge. One as good or better than the Surface’s Type Cover. An adjustable kickstand would be perfect. A brace to secure the Apple Pencil in place would be welcomed. A usable trackpad? Even better.

If Apple won’t step up and release this keyboard themselves, I would like to see them let others do it. I say this because there was talk after the 2018 iPad Pros were released that the new Smart Connector was no longer part of the MFi program, meaning that third party accessory makers could not use it. I do know that Logitech released Smart Connector-ennabled keyboard cases for each of the first two generations of the iPad Pro. They did not for the current gen Pro, opting for a Bluetooth keyboard this year.

If I am correct in my assumption that the new Smart Connector is off limits, then I do hope that Apple will loosen the reigns and let accessory makers like Logitech take advantage of it if they choose to. This is especially important if they aren’t willing to deliver a more premium keyboard case themselves.

Even though I don’t like the Smart Keyboard Folio myself, I do understand that a lot of iPad Pro users do. While I definitely want to see Apple deliver something similar to what Mr Birchler suggested in his Tweet, I don’t think they can afford to abandon their established product. What I would like to see is Apple release a second, more premium keyboard case that they put the “Pro” label that they’ve grown so fond of lately on. They could give the Smart Keyboard Folio a small reduction in price and charge a little bit more for the newer product.

For people like myself who want a more traditional keyboard experience, this would be a home run. Going this route would also keep fans of the existing Smart Keyboard Folio, who want thin and light above all else, happy as well. As Apple moves the iPad Pro closer and closer to a traditional computing role, a premium keyboard case that delivers something close to the experience of the Logitech Slim Combo or the Surface’s Type Cover, would be a perfect way to emphasize and enhance those changes.

Come on Apple. You’ve proven you can fix your laptop keyboards. How about filling in the blanks for the iPad Pro next year.


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