The newest addition to the Apple family is the Magic Keyboard, featuring what many people have been championing -- a real trackpad for iPad Pro.
Ben Lovejoy, a British technology writer and EU editor for 9to5Mac, gives his first impression of the “insanely expressive” Magic Keyboard with a trackpad. From set up to his overall experience, follow Lovejoy's opinions below:
The Set Up:
First off -- there is surprisingly no set up. And I repeat, there is ‘no’ set up. It is ready to use straight out of the box.
You simply attract your iPad to your keyboard and immediately you are ready to begin using it.
“Open it, and it wakes, just as the MacBook would. Or, if it’s already open, hit the spacebar to wake it from sleep, just as I would my MacBook. Swipe up on the trackpad and it unlocks. Open an app and begin typing.”
The Look and Feel:
The cover is made of polyurethane, which compared to the leather Smart Covers that were discontinued, the look and feel (especially for the price $349), it doesn’t look stylish or feel premium enough.
“Opening it, the lower hinge snaps into place with a satisfying feel. The upper hinge is also really solid, allowing the angle to be adjusted easily. Once it is, the iPad stays exactly where you put it.”
“The magnetic connection is incredibly strong! Way more than the normal Smart Cover. Once attached, it really does feel exactly like a single unit. I immediately felt comfortable carrying it around by the keyboard.”
Apple’s website indicates that it has a height of 0.16-1.43 inches (0.41–1.09 cm), with a width of 16.48 inches (41.87 cm) and a weight of 0.86 pounds (0.39 kg).
Lovejoy mentions that the combined weight of the 12.9-inch iPad Pro and Magic Keyboard actually “weighs more than the 13-inch MacBook Air,” which some look at as negative, but for him, it’s just the exact opposite.
“First, if you want a keyboard – any keyboard – to support the weight of an iPad without being propped up at the back, then the base has to be heavy enough to stop it falling over backward.”
“Second, the implication of the criticism is that this is ‘only’ an iPad compared to a MacBook. I don’t personally see it like that. To me, they are different devices, with different strengths and weaknesses. With a keyboard, there is overlap in their uses, but they are not – to me – competing devices, and I don’t see the iPad as the lesser machine.”
The Initial Keyboard Experience:
While some users draw an exact comparison between Apple Magic Keyboard and the 16-inch MacBook Pro’s keyboard, Lovejoy says it’s similar, but “definitely not the same.”
“The iPad Magic Keyboard has a noticeably lighter spring action. I would say it offers perhaps 70-80% of the resistance of the MBP one.”
“The travel depth does, however, feel exactly the same. The keys themselves feel just as solid, moving as a single unit, with no wobble if you hit them at the edge.”
Positioned on his lap, Lovejoy gives it a rating or 8/10 for typing experience. The positioning of the keyboard on the lap is not as great as it should be, as Apple has set the maximum hinge angle so that it remains stable on a flat surface.
“On my lap, it depends where I sit, as the angle of my legs varies on the seat. On a sofa, with a laid-back position, it’s very solid. On an armchair with a more upright position, it is a little less stable.”
The Initial Trackpad Experience:
Transforming the experience of writing and editing on the iPad, the Magic Keyboard and iOS 13.4 makes the iPad feel more like a laptop. “It just feels instinctively right to use the trackpad rather than the touchscreen for most things in this setup, but writing and editing is where it shines.”
For writing and editing, the Magic Trackpad “is exactly like it is on a MacBook: simple, fast, precise.”
“One thing I love: Apple has implemented tap-to-click! This is the first setting I change on any MacBook, as it just feels unnecessarily forceful to physically (or haptically) click. I didn’t expect Apple to implement this for the iPad, but it has.”
“I’ll need to learn all the trackpad gestures, as they are not identical to macOS, but the ones I’ve used so far feel very natural. Swipe up for Home mirrors the touchscreen gesture, albeit you need to use three fingers. I’ll report back on gestures next time.”
The First Impression of the Magic Keyboard Summary:
Yes, for the price of the keyboard, Lovejoy suggests that you can buy an iPad, a Chromebook, or a Windows laptop for less -- but:
“I think there is very little doubt that I’ll be keeping it.”
Because Lovejoy is a writer, he needs a keyboard that will effectively and efficiently cater to his professional needs, and this particular keyboard is “the best possible writing experience on an iPad.”
“The ease of separating the iPad from the keyboard is the single biggest selling-point to me, compared to the Brydge. It’s also easier to open and close: with the Brydge, you always have to be a little careful doing this as it can be easy to accidentally pull the iPad out of the clamps. With the Magic Keyboard, it’s still a two-handed operation for reasons well-explained by John Gruber (the iPad is so heavy that you need to hold down the keyboard to prise it open, in contrast to a laptop where most of the weight is in the base), but it’s definitely an easier operation.”
Overall, the Magic Keyboard does offer bright spots to some of its users. But others looking for more flexibility, like a feature that will give the options to flip the keyboard completely around, may have to wait for some much-needed design changes before it can be viewed as a “killer new accessory” for all.