I recently wrote about some workarounds I was thinking up for working with the Magic Keyboard + Smart Cover combo on the iPad Pro. I was having trouble finding Apple’s Smart Keyboard and Create Pro in stores, so I spent a few days trying out the only keyboard solution I could get my hands on.
There are no shortages of the Magic Keyboard or Smart Cover, after all, and they have some interesting selling points:
- they’re separable so you can leave the keyboard at home if you’re only going to draw or watch on the iPad Pro
- the Magic Keyboard has more travel than the Smart Keyboard (important to discerning typists)
- the Smart Cover has the extra low viewing angle for touchscreen typing or drawing at a desk (which the Smart Keyboard completely lacks)
- the Magic Keyboard can be used with any device that can connect via Bluetooth
- the Magic Keyboard has iOS-specific shortcut keys for brightness, music playback, etc.
Those were the theoretical pros that I had listed before making the purchase. In reality, I really only cared about the extra low viewing angle and the shortcut keys. The other bullet points were still objective advantages, but they didn’t make my experience any better.
What did affect my experience were these factors:
- A separate cover and keyboard is two things to pack each time I head out
- the Magic Keyboard connects via Bluetooth, but it isn’t smart enough to disconnect when the iPad is moved away
- this combo can’t be used for lap typing because the two accessories don’t form a base to rest the iPad on
I use the iPad in a lot of different situations and positions, and I felt like I was changing my habits to suit the device. In particular, having to disconnect the Bluetooth keyboard each time I wanted to use the iPad on the couch or in the kitchen was annoying. If you fail to do this, you won’t be able to type in any of your apps using the software keyboard because iOS still sees that a Bluetooth keyboard is paired.
I didn’t encounter this problem when I had the iPad Air 2 because I could just toggle Bluetooth on and off to disconnect my Bluetooth keyboard, but that solution was complicated by the addition of the Pencil on the iPad Pro. If I toggle Bluetooth on the iPad Pro, I end up having to re-pair the Pencil (which involves plugging it back into the Lightning port). The very best solution I’ve ever seen to this Bluetooth Keyboard problem was in Belkin’s QODE Ultimate Pro, which automatically put the keyboard to sleep whenever it sensed that the iPad was detached. If Belkin or Logitech can whip up a similar solution for the iPad Pro, they’ll have a winner on their hands.
I tried to use the iPad Pro with the Smart Cover on my lap and use the touchscreen keyboard on the couch, but I very quickly noticed how horrible that was for my neck. One reason that you can work comfortably I on a laptop from the couch is because the screen is always propped up for you to see. You’re not looking forward, and not straight down. So while it is possible to touch type using the on-screen keyboard on the couch, it’s just not very comfortable to do for very long. The Smart Keyboard, on the other hand, balances very well as long as your knees aren’t pointed down. If your thighs are level with the ground, or your feet propped up on a coffee table, it’s fun to type away with the Smart Keyboard on your lap.
I’ve had the Smart Keyboard for a week now and am quite happy with the purchase. I could have purchased the Logitech Create Pro for a little less, but I’ve got some thoughts on that matter coming soon. I don’t think this is an open-and-shut case in favour of the Smart Keyboard, but I wanted to highlight the differences between these solutions, because these aren’t comparative bullet points you’ll see listed on retail packaging.