I covered my reasons for being a little sluggish with my Magic Keyboard overage yesterday. While today was better, I am still running about half speed. However, I have had a lot more time to use Apple’s newest keyboard accessory and start to form some early impressions.
What’s the angle?
One of my biggest concerns with the Magic Keyboard once the early hands-ons and reviews started to roll in was the limited range of angle adjustment. It was made pretty clear in several of them that the iPad Pro cannot be angled back more than 130 degrees. That may seem like a lot, but if you are used to a Brydge keyboard, this range feels much more limited.
While I would prefer to have more range of adjustment, I have found this to be perfectly adequate for my use at home, with the iPad Pro and Magic Keyboard sitting on my lap. However, while this is a big part of my iPad Pro usage, the other part that takes place at work is much different. There are things I do there where 130 degrees won’t be enough. That said, I haven’t had a chance to take the Magic Keyboard to work with me yet, so I’m not going to make a call on whether it really won’t be up to the task until I can.
Keys to success
As I said in my first article yesterday, the keyboard part of the Magic Keyboard is pretty great. The feel and response of the keys is really nice and smooth. The backlight projects well and is easy to see. The keys on the 12.9” version are spaced nicely and feel very close to a typical 13” laptop. Other than the lack of an Esc key (which is easily offset by remapping a little used key, such as the Globe key) and the lack of a row of function keys, this keyboard is pretty spot-on.
I did say yesterday that I prefer the Brydge Pro keyboard and your typical Logitech mobile keyboard to the Magic Keyboard. However, I’ll just be clear here that we are talking about splitting hairs when I say that. I like the feel of the Logitech the best and their keyboards always have the function row and keyboard backlight controls built in. I like the raised keys on the Brydge a little better, but the Magic Keyboard is growing on me. They are pretty much in a dead heat, with the Brydge’s main advantage being the function row, at this point.
Besides filling in some missing keys, it would be nice to see Apple add some backlighting controls to the Magic Keyboard. This doesn’t even have to be a product of function keys. It can be some keyboard shortcuts added in iOS 14. The fact is, you don’t need backlighting all the time and, as has been covered by many others, you urgently have to dig into Settings to adjust the intensity or turn it completely off.
So, more control of key backlighting could really help to preserve iPad Pro battery life. It’s pretty obvious- the Magic Keyboard draws its power from the iPad, so the more you keep backlighting on, the more power you will obviously drain as you type. If, like me, you do a lot of typing on an iPad Pro keyboard, this can definitely take a toll. I often use my keyboards in well-lit areas where the backlighting isn’t necessary. As such, I really hope Apple adds keyboard shortcuts to adjust the backlight up, down and off in their next update.
A big change
While I’m still not certain that the Magic Keyboard is going to be the best fit for me, I really do appreciate the shift in Apple’s design philosophy that it represents. I have always disliked the Smart Keyboard and Smart Keyboard Folio because the lack of real key mechanisms make for a substandard typing experience. I think people tend to gloss over that because it’s very portable. That or, let’s face it, some Apple fans will take up for any product with a fruit logo on it. As for me, I’ll take a little more weight and a better typing experience any day. What is more important in a keyboard case than the keyboard?
I do find it really interesting that, while the Magic Keyboard represents a shift in design philosophy for Apple’s mobile keyboards, it still maintains the same basic exterior look and feel of the Smart Keyboard Folio.
If you look at the two products closed side by side, you can hardly tell a difference. However, everything beyond the look and feel has been altered. I guess I understand the desire for Apple to maintain some element of consistency, but I appreciate the big changes that were made under the hood and the recognition by Apple that they were necessary for the iPad Pro to move forward the way they want. Many of us have been wanting the same for years, so we are all on board with this.
That’s it for today. I’ll be back with a few more observations tomorrow and then some from my experiences at work over the course of next week.