Apple in iPadOS 13 introduced support for external mice as an Accessibility feature, and in iPadOS 14, Apple is set to expand cursor support to make using a mouse or a trackpad on iPadOS similar to using a mouse or trackpad on the Mac.
Apple is rumored to be working on a Smart Keyboard for the iPad Pro that includes a trackpad that will work with the new cursor capabilities, and code found in leaked iOS 14 snippets shared by 9to5Mac provides details on some of the functionality we can expect.
No Persistent Cursor - When using a trackpad or mouse with an iOS device, the cursor will disappear after a few seconds of not being used, unlike on a Mac where the cursor is always visible. It will reappear after the trackpad or mouse is activated again.
Multiple Pointers - As on the Mac, you'll see multiple pointers depending on what you're doing. A standard arrow pointer will be visible most of the time, but it will switch to a hand when overing over links.
Right-Click - Gestures will be supported, such as a tap with two fingers to right click.
Tap to Click - Tap to Click, a feature present on the Mac's trackpad, will also be available on the iPad Pro Smart Keyboard trackpad.
Code in iOS 14 allegedly contains references to two new Smart Keyboard model identifiers, which suggests that the Smart Keyboard with Trackpad will be available for multiple iPad models. That could perhaps mean the 11 and 12.9-inch iPad Pro models.
While there's no detail on the physical shape of the accessories, the functionality suggests the upcoming Smart Keyboards will feature a standard laptop-like design that includes a keyboard above the trackpad.
Apple is working on an iPad keyboard that includes a built-in trackpad, reports The Information, citing sources with knowledge of Apple's plans.
Apple has reportedly been experimenting with trackpads for the iPad for a "number of years." Some of the prototypes have featured capacitive keys, though it is not known if this feature is in the finished product. The Information's source says that the keyboard will be made from materials similar to those in Apple's current Smart Keyboard Folio designed for the iPad Pro.
Apple is preparing the keyboard for mass production at the current time, and is expected to release the new accessory alongside the next version of the iPad Pro. Current rumors suggest the iPad Pro could be refreshed as soon as March, and Apple is expected to hold a March event (perhaps on March 31) to announce new devices.
If Apple does indeed unveil a new iPad Pro in March, we could see the rumored keyboard released at the same time. Up until now, all of Apple's Smart Keyboards designed for use with iPads have only featured standard keyboard keys. A version with a trackpad would need to be significantly overhauled to make space for the trackpad design.
Back in January, Taiwanese site DigiTimes said that Apple is working on a Smart Keyboard with backlit keys and scissor switches, so it's possible that the upcoming Smart Keyboard with trackpad will also have these features.
Apple may release a Smart Keyboard with a scissor switch design for its next-generation iPad or iPad Pro models, suggests Taiwanese industry publication DigiTimes, although full details are not available yet.
A paywalled preview of the report vaguely claims that "Apple's next-generation iPad series reportedly will feature a scissor switch keyboard," which is presumably referring to an accessory rather than a built-in hardware keyboard. The full report should be released tomorrow with more details.
Apple switched to a butterfly mechanism for its MacBook Pro keyboard in 2016, and after years of issues with sticky or unresponsive keys, it finally returned to a scissor switch design with the new 16-inch MacBook Pro last October. Kuo expects the 13-inch MacBook Pro and the MacBook Air to follow suit in 2020.
We'll update this post when the full report is released.
Apple designed a Smart Keyboard Folio for the 11- and 12.9-inch iPad Pro models, but while it's super slim, it's also expensive and with flat keys that some iPad users might not like.
Luckily, third-party companies like Zagg and Logitech have come out with some alternate iPad Pro keyboards, and in today's video, we're comparing the Smart Keyboard Folio from Apple to two popular alternatives - the Slim Folio Pro from Logitech and the Slim Book Go from Zagg.
Apple's Smart Keyboard Folio is super slim and adds a minimal amount of bulk to the iPad Pro, and that thin profile is a feature that Logitech and Zagg haven't been able to match. The Slim Folio Pro and the Slim Book Go both add a considerable amount of bulk to the iPad Pro, doubling the weight of the device and making it a good deal thicker.
Zagg Slim Book Go
Of the two, the Slim Book Go from Zagg is the heftier model, but both are pretty bulky. If you're someone who prefers a device without a thick case on it, these keyboards may not be for you. There are, however, some benefits to these cases beyond price, such as the feel of the keyboard.
The Smart Keyboard Folio from Apple has flat, fabric covered keys that have little travel and don't feel much like a standard keyboard. Zagg and Logitech's solutions, though, are thicker and thus accommodate keys with more travel, a more satisfying press, and just a better overall feel.
The Slim Book Go from Zagg is designed to protect the entire iPad Pro, providing solid drop protection. The case itself is made from a hard plastic, while the keyboard has a cloth feel on the front and felt material surrounding the keys.
Zagg Slim Book Go
You can detach the keyboard cover from the case if you want, leaving just the case itself on the iPad. Zagg left a lot of space at the bottom of the keyboard on the Slim Book Go, so it's comfortable to rest your wrists, but when using it on your lap, it's wobbly.
That's not a problem in a situation where you're using it on a desk, and with the adjustable stand there are multiple viewing angles, something you don't get with Logitech's version. The keyboard is pleasant to type on, but there's no backlighting for the keys. It's not clear why, but there's no sleep/wake function in the cover, so shutting it won't turn off your iPad. Multi-device support is included, something not available in the Slim Folio Pro.
Logitech Slim Folio Pro
Logitech's Slim Folio Pro, unlike the Slim Book Go, is all one piece without a detachable keyboard option. It has a thick rubber frame that protects the iPad, and a single viewing angle for using while typing.
The Slim Folio Pro and the Slim Book Go both offer a better typing experience than the Smart Keyboard Folio for those who like more traditional keys, but we preferred the feel of the Slim Book Go a bit more because the keys have more travel and a more satisfying click. On the plus side, it's a bit less bulky and not as heavy, and it has backlit keys, a nice bonus feature.
Logitech Slim Folio Pro
Both the Slim Book Go and the Slim Folio Pro connect to the iPad Pro using Bluetooth, making the Smart Keyboard Folio the only keyboard accessory that uses the Smart Connector on the new iPad Pro models. Bluetooth isn't as convenient as the Smart Connector, but these keyboards don't need to be charged often and when they do, you can use USB-C.
So which should you choose? If you hate bulk, get the Smart Keyboard Folio or plan to remove these keyboard cases when not in use, something that can be a hassle.
If you want the best typing experience that's closest to a laptop and don't mind the thickness, choose the Zagg, but if you want something a bit slimmer with backlighting and more stability for on-lap use, choose the Logitech (and make sure to check out our full review). You can, of course, choose none of the above and opt for a much cheaper standalone Bluetooth keyboard.
Which iPad Pro keyboard do you prefer? Apple's, Logitech's, Zagg's, or something else? Let us know in the comments.