I guess this falls under Apple not being able to see into the future. That, or maybe they just have a cynical view of how it relates to products. Either way, according to a report from French site iGeneration (via 9to5Mac), Apple’s current 12.9″ Magic Keyboards that were released just over a year ago will not fit the just-announced 2021 12.9″ iPad Pro. That’s not the news I was looking for today.
The reason for this is simple. The new 12.9″ Pros are 0.5 millimeters thicker than the previous models due to the addition of the Mini-LED screen and the original Magic Keyboard was made to form-fit the previous design. I talked about this in a post on Monday where I wondered aloud whether the current Magic Keyboard could accommodate the relatively small change in thickness. Since we didn’t hear anything about this in the lead up to the announcement, I was hopeful. Unfortunately, it looks like I was wrong and many of us preparing to upgrade will have to ditch our Magic Keyboards (which just lost value thanks to this news) to prepare to buy another one. That, or move on to something else.
Some will think I am unreasonable for complaining about this. Like I said at the outset, Apple doesn’t have a crystal ball and can’t see the future. However, it’s not like development of this new iPad Pro wasn’t ongoing through last year. It was even rumored to be on target for a Fall release before COVID delays changed everything.
I don’t think Apple should get a free pass for either not sharing information internally about the possibility of a size increase. That’s the forgiving interpretation of the situation, because I’m sure engineers at Apple knew this was a possibility by the time the Magic Keyboard was prepared for development and release. These devices don’t come together at the last minute, but months and even years in advance. And let’s be honest- altering the design of an accessory to account for 0.5 mm wouldn’t have been inordinately difficult for a company like Apple.
The more cynical interpretation is that Apple engineering and marketing teams knew they were releasing an expensive accessory with a one year runway to obsolesce and went forward with the Magic Keyboard’s original design anyway. Maybe they figured that most people don’t upgrade iPad Pros that often, that it would only affect one of the two models (the 11″ iPad Pro design didn’t change), so it wouldn’t impact that many people. They also know that the crazy people like myself who buy every new Apple device, well we will just suck it up and buy the new one.
Unfortunately, I think the later explanation makes more sense than the former. I don’t think the original 12.9″ Magic Keyboard was left short because of an oversight or someone dropping the ball moving information between design teams. I think Apple knew and decided to take the easier way out and make a few bucks extra at the same time. They haven’t cared about giving their biggest fans and power users a break on pricing before, so I feel pretty comfortable saying they knew the original Magic Keyboard would only be good for a year when they released it. It is what it is.
I hate that we didn’t have some indication of this sooner, because I definitely would have sold my Magic Keyboard along with my 2018 iPad Pro and made what I could on the pair. The stupid thing has been sitting in a drawer collecting dust, waiting for a device it ultimately won’t work well with. Now I have to sell the keyboard separately and will likely get back less than half what I paid for it. Because of that, I’m leaning toward not replacing it with another MK. I already have a Brydge Pro+ with a newly upgraded firmware that makes the trackpad work much better than before, so I don’t need a Magic Keyboard day one.
I’ll talk about this more in a future post this weekend, but there are also some new iPad Pro keyboard case alternatives from well-known accessory manufacturers coming soon. Why sink more money into an expensive keyboard case that Apple may not support long-term and that I wasn’t 100% in love with in the first place when I can pay less for a very good alternative? Yeah, I think it may be time to shop around. More on this coming soon.