The accessory that is poised to change the way you use your brand new iPad is almost here. Apple has confirmed the new Magic Keyboard is now available to pre-order, and will start being shipped April 23. It was initially announced when the iPad Pro 2020 series was revealed earlier this year, and wasn’t expected until May, so it’s a pleasant surprise to see an early release.
Why will it transform your tablet experience? The main reason is it has a trackpad below the keyboard that takes advantage of the support baked into the latest iPadOS 13.4 software. It’s not a replacement for using the touchscreen, which is still the main way you’ll interact with the tablet, and its designed as a complementary control method instead. The trackpad provides more precise control over a cursor on the screen than with your finger, for example.
It has multi-touch support too, and these gestures let you skim through open apps and the rest of the operating system without your hand leaving the keyboard. Because it’s natively supported, all the standard Apple apps will work with the trackpad, and Apple has previously said many other apps will also work without an update needed from their respective developers. Greater support can also be added to third-party apps. The keyboard itself is backlit and each key has 1mm of travel.
Apple’s design is really interesting too, as the tablet appears to float over the keyboard. It’s mounted on a cantilevered assembly that can be adjusted through 130 degrees of movement to find the best viewing angle. There’s a USB Type-C pass-through port on the side of the keyboard that supports certain external drives and accessories. The Apple Pencil still magnetically connects to the body of the iPad Pro to charge up.
The Magic Keyboard and its trackpad have the potential to turn the iPad Pro 2020 into a true workhorse that could potentially tempt people away from the new MacBook Air. However, it’s not a cheap accessory. Over and above the already expensive iPad Pro, you will need to spend $300 for the 11-inch keyboard, or $350 for the 12.9-inch version.