The Magic keyboard with a 12.9-inch iPad Pro 2020.
The iPad hangs in the air directly above the keyboard.
It's also a protective case that looks pretty similar to the smart keyboard from this point of view.
It's a bit thick and heavy.
Here is the keyboard layout that reflects the latest MacBook keyboards. It attracts stains like crazy.
The iPad Pro and the 13-inch MacBook Pro Magic keyboards side by side.
The past year has changed the iPad a lot. First, the iOS to iPadOS branch – and some related software changes – signaled Apple's drive to enable real productivity on the platform. Second, Apple introduced trackpad support and brought a completely new user interface paradigm to the iPad.
The latest product in this special effort is the introduction of the Magic Keyboard peripheral from the 11-inch and 12.9-inch iPad Pro models. It combines a keyboard modeled on the keyboard peripheral device of the same name for Macs – a popular design – with the first trackpad that Apple developed specifically for the iPad.
After spending some time with the magic keyboard, we are ready to share our impressions. However, it is only a periphery, so this will be a very brief overview. We won't be too concerned with the software as we did in our previous coverage of iPadOS as well as our recent iPad Pro test. And in an upcoming article we will go into more detail about working with trackpads and keyboards on the iPad.
In other words, these are some personal impressions after working with the keyboard a bit – not your normal test-driven, robust Ars Technica rating.
A strange design
Apple Magic Keyboard for iPad Pro
Starts at $ 290 on Amazon
Starts at $ 299 from Apple
Starts at $ 299 from B&H
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Almost everything on the keyboard can be recognized by another Apple product. The cover itself is made of materials similar to other Apple-made cases and covers for mobile devices. When closed, an occasional viewer may not notice that it's different from Apple's previous Smart Keyboard attachment. According to Apple, the keyboard itself is copied from the Mac keyboards without a butterfly.
The first thing you'll notice about this peripheral is that the iPad is floating in the air just above the keyboard – a kind of floating effect. (It's hard to describe, but you can see it in the photos.)
This hover effect is certainly an eye-catcher and allows for some very fine adjustments to the iPad's angle – although I wish there was a wider range of angles that I could adjust it to. In general, I just put this aspect of the design under "neat", but this doesn't make it a better keyboard case than any other that takes a different approach.
However, this approach has one major disadvantage. A significant portion of the bottom half of the cover is just an empty space covered by the iPad floating above it. For example, this space cannot be used to make the trackpad larger, which I would have preferred.
I also feel that this approach makes the iPad a bit too big in some situations – for example, it could be even more difficult to mount an already large 12.9-inch iPad Pro on a cramped airplane shelf in the coach (if we can ) all travel safely again).
All in all, I find the design striking, but otherwise unremarkable. The actual typing experience is the real strength of this tool.
A very strong typing experience
As already mentioned, according to Apple, this keyboard is modeled on the Magic keyboard for the Mac and is said to be similar to those that can be found in newer MacBooks after the butterfly. You can say. It feels similar to these keyboards. The layout is almost identical, except for the inverted T arrow keys, to which Apple recently switched from the layout of the less popular butterfly keyboards.
If you've used one of these Mac keyboards, you've used it quite a bit so you can't say more about it. The keys are responsive and springy, and my fingers move well over them. They give good feedback even though they only feel a little soft.
Saying it's better than the Smart Keyboard Cover, Apple's previous keyboard attachment for the iPad Pro, is an enormous understatement. As I wrote in some of my recent iPad reviews, this keyboard peripheral was fine. It was useful. But it never felt good, and no one would ever prefer a laptop keyboard.
The Magic keyboard feels mostly like a laptop keyboard. I only have two complaints about the typing experience. First, depending on how you align the iPad over the keyboard and how big your fingers are, you can barely and partially block access to the number buttons in the top row. This is only a problem if the iPad is facing up as far as possible (and not just forward).
Second, the base on which the trackpad and buttons are located is a little too flat to be used comfortably on your lap. The iPad Pro feels crooked and unstable when I try.
Some reviewers have already complained about the lack of function keys, but I don't really see those in iPadOS doing anything other than acting as media and brightness controls. Yes, it's a bit stupid to have to pull down the control center to change these things, but this gesture is simple enough. I didn't miss it, with only one exception. Your mileage may vary.
As for this exception, this keyboard is backlit like the MacBook keyboards, which is very nice to see. The only way to adjust the keyboard backlight is to go deep into the Settings app on iPad. There's not even a way to add this to the Control Center, which seems like an oversight. If it were in the Control Center, I would not mind if there were no physical keys for it.
Listing image by Samuel Axon