This Is Not for Me

The new Magic Keyboard for iPad Pro is now available and starting to appear in reviews. Most of them have been video reviews, but I am starting to see written reviews as well.

In watching the video reviews, my early suspicion of the Magic Keyboard for iPad Pro was confirmed: I won't be getting it. Not because it's bad, but rather it comes down to a matter of use cases for me. Sure, weight and cost are also factors, but I need to be able to actually use the device if I'm going to make this device a good fit.

Now that I'm working from home for the foreseeable future, I'm using the iPad Pro in a "docked" manner, where it sits off to the right in a stand connected to an external monitor; for input, I use the Logitech K780 keyboard and – new to my home office setup – a Magic Trackpad 2. In this scenario, the Magic Keyboard for iPad Pro obviously wouldn't be used, just like my Smart Keyboard Folio sits below my monitor.

I do use my iPad around the house in various ways: handheld, on a table or counter, or to write on. In this way, I could have the Magic Keyboard for iPad Pro, and just pull it off. I can simply fold the Smart Keyboard Folio around and use it my hand; I am used to the weight now, and it doesn't bother me. I also have a Magic Mouse 2, which I use when I'm away from my home desk, which is small enough to fit in my pocket for me to carry around or use anywhere in the house. So the Magic Keyboard for iPad Pro doesn't provide me a benefit here either.

So let's talk about when I'm actually at work. In an office. Remember those times? Anyway, I do go from meeting to meeting in conference rooms. In these scenarios, I'm often at the table in the room where it happens. I often will switch modes depending on what I'm doing: for some meetings I'm able to use my iPad Pro in more of the laptop mode with the Smart Keyboard Folio; in others, I might be writing down notes and focusing on presentations being given. And for those times where I'm not at the table, I'm sitting off to the side where there is no place other than my lap. The Smart Keyboard Folio lends itself to all of these conditions, and affords me the opportunity to use the iPad Pro in any one of those during the course of the day. The Magic Keyboard for iPad Pro is sold in a particular way: as a keyboard, not a folio, and is for landscape orientations only. This would hinder the way in which I use the device for my day job.

Looking at all of those use cases together, it really is apparent to me that using my iPad Pro with the Smart Keyboard Folio is my best opportunity to meet all things. I can augment the experience when docked, or I can carry around the Magic Mouse 2 when I need to be mobile. It's not always going to be the ideal experience, but it does what I need to get the job done. Also, I already have the components I need, and don't need to spend an additional $300 on something that would be a limited use case for me.

All that aside, I really love the idea of the Magic Keyboard for iPad Pro. The engineering of it seems solid, and it appears to be very well built. The fact that you can charge the device using the built-in port while using another USB-C device in the other is something that I hope gets more extensible over time with software updates. I'm delighted that this device exists: this is the first generation of the device, and it will only get better with feedback and iteration.[1] The fact that this device exists for everyone is fantastic, so they can choose what works for them. This is what Apple excels at: creating multiple devices in given form factor/class, and providing options for users to suit on their individual needs.

The Magic Keyboard for iPad Pro looks to be an amazing device, but one thing is clear: this is not for me. And that's OK.

  1. I would love to see a few things: 1) a hinge which has detents for the current position i and all the way around, and 2) media keys with a dedicated Siri button as well.  ↩︎