For a little over 10 years Steve Jobs introduced us to the iPad and he did it explaining clearly what it was for. The focus was on entertainment: viewing your photos, listening to music, watching videos, reading books, etc. Jobs even said “If there is going to be a third category of product, it is because it will be better to do certain activities than a smart phone or laptop, otherwise it does not make sense to exist.” I firmly believe that this product proposal is sustained but that it has evolved along with those who use it.
The iPad was a success and became the generic of a tablet, for many people it has been the first computer thanks to simple and friendly software. With its own evolution, many of us have tried to adopt it as a productivity tool and even Apple has progressively supported this group of users with various signals. The first and most evident is the existence of an iPad Pro as well as continuous improvements to iOS (now iPadOS) with the focus of being more productive without losing its simplicity.
Apple has recently presented the Magic Keyboard with a simple proposal: an external keyboard / cover that privileges being able to use the iPad Pro as a laptop (which, I clarify, is different from a Macbook). If you have a 2018 or 2020 model iPad Pro, you can use it perfectly. You just open the Magic Keyboard and with strong magnets the iPad Pro is well placed. With this setup you have a totally friendly keyboard with the iPad Pro in a “floating” position and with perhaps the more welcome addition, a trackpad.
The iPad Pro is held very well and feels robust, even if it is not so difficult to separate it. Many miss a special row for “functions” and some others defend the position that it is not necessary to have them. I share with you a point of view on essentially what is the experience of using the Magic Keyboard from a practical perspective.
What advantages have I found using the Magic Keyboard on an iPad Pro?
- Maximum comfort possible for typing text; it feels very good.
- It greatly reduces having to touch the screen since from the keyboard you can do almost everything with the trackpad.
- It becomes fully functional as a laptop with long battery life, agility and portability that has always characterized it. Along with software that has evolved, the user experience is no longer so limited.
- The keys glow in the dark.
- Perhaps of little relevance, but I really like how it looks.
What are the disadvantages of using the Magic Keyboard on an iPad Pro?
- You lose the so-called “tablet” functionality, that will no longer feel comfortable to read in bed or on the couch. It is no longer possible to have a position where the keyboard is left behind and present a clean iPad Pro in the front. If you want to use it in “tablet” mode, you need to detach the iPad Pro from the Magic Keyboard. Doing so is relatively simple, but not ideal.
- Using the Apple Pencil for notes or drawing is still possible, but the position is awkward and in the same way, if you want to use it for a long period of time, chances are you’ll end up separating the iPad Pro.
- It weighs more. The Magic Keyboard needs to be heavy to hold the iPad Pro and it shows a lot, if you have the 12.9 ″ model you will be carrying almost the same weight a as a MacBook Air or Pro.
Apple is not promoting that all iPad Pro users should buy a Magic Keyboard to have the full experience of their product, it has simply given versatility to different types of users. If someone wants to keep it as a device to function as a tablet and eventually write, there is the Smart Keyboard that offers an external keyboard, it is cheaper, lighter and does not sacrifice tablet mode. Of course, it does not have a trackpad, it is not comfortable to type and it lacks friendly position angles. If your approach is to use it as a consumer tool and do not type too much, you can even choose to put the Smart Cover or some third-party cover using your finger to point and the on-screen keyboard.
The price is high, but I do not consider it a disadvantage since to evaluate it, everyone must make a cost-benefit assessment. In the case of the Magic Keyboard there are other options to use a keyboard with trackpad on the iPad Pro. The difference is that with this accessory, you receive the best possible experience if you want to work like this. Is it worth the investment? everyone will decide, but it is certainly not a cheap product, however for many it will be worth it.
If you are looking for your iPad Pro to become a tool to improve your productivity, the Magic Keyboard is probably a fully validated purchase, but if you use it more as a content consuming product, entertainment and simple things, not only would it feel very expensive, but it will get a lot in the way. It is very possible that if you have a Macbook that you already consider portable, this combo will have to be seen as a complement to your mobile productivity center. If you only have an iMac (or desktop computer) or a 15/16 ″ Macbook, it can add portability with high effectiveness. If it is going to be your only computer and you need portability, an iPad Pro and Magic Keyboard are also a great option as long as you don’t use specialized software that is only found in conventional operating systems.
If the trend continues where it seems, it is very likely that Apple will continue to favor this way of using the iPad in its next operating system updates.
The Magic Keyboard is clearly for those who want to make their iPad Pro the laptop they will be using. It competes for the same space as a Macbook, but it’s not the same. Using an iPad Pro with the Magic Keyboard offers advantages that a Macbook does not have and vice versa. Many complain that they still cannot do everything from a Macbook on the iPad and if this is your case, buy a Macbook, because that means that it is what you need. However, the combo of iPad Pro, Apple Pencil and Magic Keyboard adds a new perspective and now it is also valid to say that a Macbook cannot do everything that an iPad Pro does either. Which one suits you? It is everyone’s decision but I do make it clear that with the Magic Keyboard, the iPad Pro has become a device that essentially solves the need for portable productivity with the same level as any laptop with benefits and limitations of its proposal. It is convenient for us as users to open to this and choose the best option according to our needs.