The new iPad Pro has the largest screen in the iPad range at 12.9-inches, and to accompany this, Apple have designed a new keyboard. The keyboard functions as a full size keyboard, meaning typing is easier and feels more natural then ever before. Many of us prefer the practicality phyiscal keyboard over touch alone, especially for when we need to work all day, or do tasks which involve a lot of typing – such as writing an essay at university/school.
Keyboard cases developed by a number of brands have been around for a while, avaliable for just about every iPad model from the Air to the Mini. I’ve tried quite a good number of them, but sadly many have been a disappointment, mainly due to them all being bulky, having to pair them every time via Bluetooth, poor battery life, not to mention the keys just being way too small to type on. I can’t even remember how many times I’ve been frustrated while trying to find a suitable keyboard for iPad.
When Apple announced the Smart Keyboard for the new iPad Pro, I expected a lot. I wanted it to be the keyboard I’d finally love to use, and I wanted to be able to take it out of the house and know I could use it all day, and be able to type productively. Typing is generally one of those tasks you shouldn’t have to think about – for me, it happens reflexively.
I’ve been using it every day for a good week now; writing quite a number of posts here on AMVSEMENT along with at Mac Prices Australia, and it has become the keyboard I prefer to use. I find it extremely comfortable, portable (I no longer port my 15-inch MacBook Pro everywhere with me), and it is really simple to use.
For me the Smart Keyboard achieved what I wanted out of an iPad Keyboard because of two key areas: Function and Design.
The Smart Keyboard attaches magnetically to the iPad Pro connecting via the new Smart Connector on the iPad Pro, which provides both data and power. This means you simply attach the Smart Keyboard to the iPad Pro and start typing.
I no longer had to worry about on and off switches, and pairing that feature with the previous keyboards I’ve used – these tasks are streamlined and take care of themselves. This makes the keyboard extremely thin, light which makes for outstanding portability.
At this stage the keyboard is only available in an US English layout, with no word on yet of more layouts will come out in the future. Therefore the Smart Keyboard layout is just like that on the Mac, complete with a QWERTY layout, and numbers 1-9 at the top however do not have the short-cut keys seen at the top of the Mac keyboard. There are no volume up and down buttons, pause/play, brightness keys, etc. However, with the command button included, there are some keyboard shortcuts enabled:
- ⌘ shift H — Go to Home Screen
- ⌘ space — Search
- ⌘ tab — Switch App
- and much more.
Some might be disappointed that these keys are not there, but to include them would have meant either a larger keyboard area – likely impacting on the design of the stand and fold design aspects or smaller keys. Having used the keyboard for a while now, compromising hot keys feels like a better trade-off rather than contending with a cramped keyboard.
The design and innovation behind the keyboard is what really impressed me most, and is a big part of what makes the Smart Keyboard so great.
Some of this is obvious – it’s thin in appearance, provides a stand for the iPad Pro, and is easy to carry around, folding onto the screen like a normal Smart Cover when not in use. However what isn’t so obvious is what makes the Smart Keyboard all the more impressive.
The keyboard is crafted from a custom wovan fabric that’s embossed and laser ablated to form the shape of each key.
Firstly, the materials the Smart Keyboard is made from were surprising to me. It’s crafted from a custom woven fabric, with each key gaining it’s shape by the fabric being embossed and laser ablated. There are no gaps between the keys and no key mechanisms under the key – the fabric forms the mechanism for the keyboard.
The fabric has great feel to it and is the most comfortable keyboard I’ve used; as you begin to use the keyboard you will realise and appreciate the design choices Apple have made. It’s worth mentioning it’s resistant to everyday stains and spills with the keyboard coated in a water and stain resistant finish. Knowing if I have an accident in the future is a relief, as many keyboards are not spill resistant.
With no components under each key you begin to wonder how the keyboard works. Turns out Apple have gone away with the traditional wires and have created a conductive material within the keyboard. A paper-thin sheet of nylon is etched with metal to make information flow to and from the keyboard. The reasoning behind this is to also allow for this material to flex within the fold panels so as you fold and unfold the keyboard constantly it lasts. Apple states it’s durable enough to withstand this during it’s lifetime.
Where to Buy & Pricing
The new iPad Pro is also available starting at A$1,249 in Australia and NZ$1,399 in New Zealand also shipping from the Apple Online Store.