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Magic Keyboard iPad Pro review: how the experience on iOS changes

Magic Keyboard iPad Pro review: how the experience on iOS changes

The most obvious reflection that you could expect to find in this one try the Magic Keyboard:just a keyboard with trackpad for turn iPad Pro into a computer?

On the other hand, the combination between the two categories comes directly from Cupertino, when – for example – it compares the potential of the SoC of its iPad with those of themost laptops on the market, or when – without going too far back in time – proposes commercials in which the versatility of the iPad is clearly contrasted with therigiditytypical of classic computers.

In short, Apple itself sees its iPad Pro as a tool capable of replace a good part of the computers used by the majority of users, or those who they don't buy a gaming laptop, do not need one portable workstation for complex graphics and video editing jobs e they are not particularly tied to a specific program available only on Windows or macOS.

Going back to the initial question, can iPad Pro, once combined with the new Magic Keyboard, be a valid substitute to the classic PC for all those users who fall outside the categories mentioned above? In this case the answer is; rather, in different scenarios even more comfortable and versatile.

After several weeks of daily use, I came to the conclusion that this combination can represent a very valid alternative to the traditional platforms based on Windows and macOS, but not without having to deal with the prices to be faced. So I find myself at a very interesting crossroads: nip this accessory cleanly because of the off-scale prices (we are talking about 339 euros for the variant destined for the 11 "iPad Pro and even 399 euros for the 12.9" one) to whom it is proposed to praise him for the profound transformation that introduces into the tablet user experience?

The choice that I decided to take approaching this review then the following: I think it is very interesting to analyze how the use of iPad Pro changes with the Magic Keyboard, aware of the fact that this experience can also be reproduced through the use of solutions cheaper – such as those proposed by Logitech – or even using external peripherals, since that of Cupertino does not have exclusive functions.

At this moment, in fact, we all already know the strengths and weaknesses of the new Apple keyboard, but summarize them the same, without wasting too much time:

  • The feedback of the keys with the new scissor mechanism infinitely better than that offered by the Smart Keyboard with butterfly keys.
  • The backlight is automatically adjusted using the iPad Pro's ambient light sensor; there is no lack of physical control to change its intensity, but I would like it to be integrated into the Control Center.
  • The additional Type-C port excellent for charging the tablet (at a slightly reduced speed) without engaging the main one, the only one that can be used to connect accessories and external memories.
  • The second Type-C communicates directly with the Smart Connector, which does not support data transfer. This is a weakness of the iPad and not the keyboard; who knows that a next model cannot introduce a more powerful Smart Connector.
  • The trackpad of excellent quality, even if a little too low. Unfortunately the space (especially in the 11 "model) is what is difficult to do better without reducing the size of the keyboard.
  • Excellent construction quality, rigid hinge and very powerful magnets. It cannot be folded in 360 like the Smart Keyboard, but the level of inclination is the right one and, together with the "important" weight of the keyboard, prevent the iPad from tipping over while using it on the legs.
  • Compared to the Smart Keyboard, the angles with which you can orient iPad are much more comfortable, especially the one that keeps the tablet perpendicular to the keyboard.
  • The function key row is missing, impossible to insert without it being positioned under iPad. This is a waiver caused by the choice offloating designand I hope iPadOS 14 will introduce more keyboard shortcuts (using CMD and Option) at least for volume management.
  • The impact on the battery considerably higher than that of the Smart Keyboard. Overall I believe that you lose about a little more than 1 hour of autonomy, if compared to the overall iPad Pro (11 "in my case).

These, in pills, the main characteristics uniqueof the Magic Keyboard. These are advantages and disadvantages that you must take into consideration when you decide to buy one of the keyboards with trackpad on the market. As said previously, the price of the keyboard absolutely out of scale for the type of product, even net of its very particular engineering, but in line with what Apple applies to accessories intended for its premium products.

What you should not have any doubt about the effectiveness of this kind of solutions. Apart from iPadOS 13.4in fact, Apple introduced the full mouse and trackpad support for its iPads and many developers are adapting their applications in order to make them compatible with the new possibilities offered. Magic Keyboard is undoubtedly the best way to experience this transformationas Apple thought it, but not the only way to do it. But let's see exactly what has changed.

IPAD, KEYBOARD AND TRACKAPAD: WINNING COMBINATION

Let's get straight to the point: How does a trackpad keyboard change the iPad experience? The short answer "definitely for the better", especially if we are in search of maximum precision, as the implementation of the pointer made by Apple with iPadOS 13.4 is no longer the timid and apparently listless one that we saw with the first versions of iPadOS 13.

The Cupertino house has indeed decided to seriously address the issue of making mouse and trackpad control capable of totally replacing touch interaction. Up to now this task was partially carried out by Apple Pencil, referred to by many as truenatural pointeriPad. Idea, however, not shared at all by Apple, which has tried in various ways to make us understand that the Pencil is nothing more than a tool for creating content and not an interface control system.

Apple Pencil, in fact, cannot activate all gestures via swipe (opening of the recent apps, of the Control Center, of the notification curtain, return to the main screen, recall of the Slide Over apps and so on) and unable to change the size of the applications open in the Split View. All functions that are easily performed via mouse or trackpadThis is the main element that makes us understand how much Apple is willing to support this new input system (new for iPad) in the future of your tablet.

What is currently missing is a real tutorial able to explain how the pointer interacts with each of these elements, since it is not always intuitive to understand which gesture to perform to call up a specific function. Having long tried iPad Pro in combination with the Magic Keyboard I can offer you the following list of actions, which I hope will make it clearer how to fully interact with iPad when using a trackpad or mouse:

CHECK IPAD WITH MOUSE AND TRACKPAD: LIST OF GESTURES

  • Opening recent apps:
    • With trackpad: long swipe upwards with 3 fingers
    • With mouse: move the cursor to the bottom of the screen and continue to drag it for a few moments or click and drag the lower bar upwards
  • Dock opening:
    • Both with trackpad and mouse: scroll the cursor at the bottom of the screen
  • Change home page:
    • With trackpad: swipe left or right with two fingers
    • With mouse: hold the cursor on an empty area and scroll left or right
  • Hide / show Slide Over apps:
    • Both with trackpad and mouse: slide the cursor on the right side of the screen, the last app opened in Slide Over will be recalled
  • Spotlight search:
    • With trackpad: swipe down with two fingers, from the main screen
    • With mouse: no gesture, can be activated from the keyboard with CMD + space bar.
  • Control Center opening:
    • Both with trackpad and mouse: move the cursor on the battery indicator and click as soon as it changes shape
  • Management of brightness / volume controls in the Control Center:
    • With trackpad: move the cursor to the desired control and scroll with 2 fingers to adjust its level
    • With mouse: move the cursor to the desired control, hold down the left button and scroll to adjust its level
  • Resize app in Split View:
    • Both with trackpad and mouse: grab the pill that separates the two apps and drag it to resize the apps. Maximize to stop viewing in Split View
  • Split View to Slide Over app conversion:
    • Both with trackpad and mouse: grab the pill above the desired app and drag it down
  • Open the notification curtain:
    • Both with trackpad and mouse: slide the cursor towards the top of the screen and continue to drag it for a few moments. Alternatively, click with the cursor on the time and date at the top left.
  • Go back to home page:
    • With trackpad: quick swipe upwards with 3 fingers
    • With mouse: click on the lower bar
  • Enable / Disable full screen mode on YouTube:
    • With trackpad: pinch out / in with 2 fingers while the cursor positioned over the video
    • With mouse: click on the icon on the screen
  • Change the active application (carousel):
    • With trackpad: swipe left or right using three fingers
    • With mouse: access the recent apps screen and select, the carousel does not seem to work

These are the gestures that allow us to 100% control of an iPad via trackpad and mouse. Those who have read them with particular attention will notice how the trackpad is slightly more intuitive and less cumbersome than the mouse; a bit 'what happens when you use the trackpad of a MacBook and then you decide to perform the same actions via mouse.

From this it emerges that the control of iPad via trackpad is much more natural than possible with the mouse, which is why an accessory like the Magic Keyboard (or equivalent) offers immediately a much more familiar approach than you can wait. It was really a matter of moments before I was in control iPad perfectly without having to put a finger on the screen, since the gesture system chosen by Apple is perfectly consistent with the new type of user experience proposed.

Overall, really nice to use any iPad application through keyboard and trackpad. As for the Magic Keyboard in particular, it all comes together a great writing experience, especially when compared to that of any other device equipped with a butterfly mechanism keyboard (either a MacBook Pro or the previous Smart Keyboard).

Using the Magic Keyboard on a table or desk offers us the same feeling that we find in using a MacBook of equivalent diagonal, both as regards the quality of typing and for the type of interaction that we will have with iPad. Navigate on Safari, edit or create a text document, use applications in Split View mode: everything happens with extreme naturalness, with an experience of use that is at times indistinguishable from that of a common laptop.

The only shortcomings are once again software; for example I mean the impossibility of increasing the speed with which the text is deleted. On the other hand, I particularly appreciated the possibility of remap some of the keys the Magic Keyboard; in my case I have assigned the Esc function to the Globe button, in order to avoid unwanted layout changes. On the other hand, the Globe function can be replicated by pressing Control + space bar, which is why I find the presence of a dedicated button redundant.

This new version of iPad Pro transforms the Apple tablet into an ideal machine for all those who are used to surfing the web a lot, mainly use the functions of text / spreadsheet editor and therefore they carry out generally light activities, but who do not want to give up having a very high quality display for viewing multimedia content and the convenience of being able to detach the keyboard and continue to use the device as a simple tablet.

I personally believe that iPad Pro + Magic Keyboard (or a keyboard with equivalent functions) can represent a very valid alternative for that target of users who usually look with interest at the MacBook Air range, especially for those who have been orphans of the 11 "model, whose spiritual heir just given by the union of the Magic Keyboard with an 11 "iPad Pro.

CONCLUSION: IPAD IS STILL EVOLVING

iPadOS 13.4 and the new Magic Keyboard clearly show us how Apple has given way to a new evolutionary process of iPad. The current implementation of the combination of mouse and keyboard convinces in terms of versatility and completeness in use device, but still not perfect. In all likelihood we are faced with a taste of what we will be offered with iPadOS 14, which has the difficult task of introducing an even clearer separation line than iOS.

Personally I would like to see added the possibility of putting iPad on standby with a keyboard shortcut, the slider for managing the Magic Keyboard backlight inside the Control Center (at the moment you have to dig into the settings) and the ability to change the volume via shortcuts. These elements would make the use of iPad even more immediate in this new 2-in-1 guise.

At present iPadOS very close to beingthe computer for many, but not all, since now:

  • It can be used in a credible way to write.
  • The Files app versatile enough to handle the transfer of files from external memories and to work with compressed archives.
  • The mouse and trackpad support offers that additional level of precision necessary to operate on more complex applications, such as the usual Luma Fusion, Pages, Numbers, Keynote, photo editing apps and so on.

Within this ever-changing scenario, Magic Keyboard is the ideal accessory to be used alongside an iPad Pro (both in 2018 and 2020) for all those who want to experience this transition phase firsthand and are not afraid of the out-of-scale cost of the Apple proposal.

Luckily the market offers alternatives – like the Logitech ones in the series Touch Combo, coming soon- which also allow owners of 7th generation iPad, iPad Pro 2017 and iPad Air 3 to enjoy a similar user experience, thanks to good quality keyboards that integrate a trackpad, all for figures practically halved than those required by Apple.

Then fall back outside one of the categories of users described at the beginning – that is, those who cannot absolutely abandon the traditional PC world -, find enormous added value in the tablet experience offered by iPad, you want to have a device always connected (perhaps by purchasing an LTE variant ) buying a keyboard with a trackpad may be the right move.

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