Apple just announced a new generation of iPad Pros, and along with them, a brand-new style of keyboard that looks like the closest equivalent to a laptop keyboard yet.
The new keyboard is called the “Magic Keyboard,” and it has three key standouts: a hinge that lets you adjust the viewing angle, a trackpad, and a USB-C port. This is the first time that any of those things has appeared on an official iPad keyboard from Apple, and some of them are long-awaited.
The keyboard supports the newest generation of the iPad Pro and the generation before it since it relies on the newly positioned Smart Connector along the back to charge and communicate with the device.
It’s also a lot more expensive than prior keyboards: $299 for the 11-inch model (up from $179 for the Smart Keyboard Folio) and $349 for the 12.9-inch model (up from $199 for the larger Smart Keyboard Folio). The Smart Keyboard Folio remains compatible with the latest iPad models for those looking for a cheaper keyboard.
The new model will be available starting in May.
Apple has been using the Smart Keyboard name on all of its refreshed keyboards, and this one likewise has a scissor mechanism design. They’re also backlit and have 1mm of key travel.
The hinge allows the iPad to be adjusted 130 degrees, whereas previous keyboards and cases usually allowed for just two positions. The iPad appears to float up in the air at many of the angles, rather than resting just behind the keyboard.
There’s also a USB-C port built into the keyboard that can be used for charging the iPad. It appears to be built into the left side of the hinge. That means iPad Pro owners using the Smart Keyboard will have two available USB-C ports, whereas the iPad has traditionally only had one.
Trackpad support will arrive in iPadOS 13.4. Apple began adding mouse support last year, but it was fairly basic at launch and tucked away as an accessibility option. It looks like it’s now been further built out and made a core part of the OS.
Altogether, the trackpad and multiangle keyboard help turn the iPad Pro into something far closer to a laptop than prior generations. It’s also, notably, a lot more like a Microsoft Surface. We’ll see how it fares as a competitor when the keyboard launches in a couple of months.
The image above comes from one of Apple’s new ads, which shows off a bit of how the Smart Keyboard works in practice: