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Writing on iPad Pro with Smart Keyboard Folio – MacStories

iPad Diaries is a regular series about using iPad as a primary computer. You can find more installments here and subscribe to the dedicated RSS feed.

I have a love relationship with Apple's smart keyboard for iPad Pro.

On the one hand, I've always been a fan of its small footprint and ability to almost become part of the device itself from both hardware and software. The smart keyboard clicks into place and attaches magnetically to iPad Pro; It does not require you to think to let it as Smart Connector take care of it; Thanks to the magic magnet, the keyboard and cover attach to iPad when you carry it in a bag, but can easily be disconnected in a moment if you only need the iPad screen. The software experience is as intuitive and exquisite. Ive-esque: The Smart Keyboard requires no pairing because it totally eliminates Bluetooth, and it integrates with all hot keys supported by iOS and apps. In the latest iPad Pro, the smart keyboard is even Face ID-aware: you can double-click the spacebar to authenticate from the lock screen instead of stretching your arm to the screen to sweep up ̵

1; a welcome improvement for those who work with their iPad Pro is constantly connected to a keyboard.

It's a lot to appreciate Apple's Smart Keyboard – an accessory designed on the basis of hardware and software integration, and follows the same core conditions at the base of AirPods, Apple Pencil and (although some liked to fool off their special design) Smart battery cover. But since the debut in 2015, I've saved a number of small complaints and more annoyances with the Smart Keyboard, which I'd like to visit now, as Apple has sent the evolution to the new iPad Pro Smart Keyboard Folio. [19659005] Smart Keyboard Folio

As I wrote in my first impression article after Apple's Brooklyn event, I was concerned that putting iPad Pro in the new folio case would be a more involved process than adding one of the pages to Smart keyboard. The first impression was the wrong and by-product of my limited hands-on time with the accessories.

Thanks to its 102 built-in magnets the Smart Keyboard Folio can easily be adjusted with the iPad's Pro Pro, with little guidance required at the end. With Smart Keyboard Folio completely open on a desk, I have had no trouble placing iPad on top of it and fold it in writing mode. In fact, I've noticed that Apple intelligently placed magnets both inside the iPad and folio case so that if you try to place the device upside down at the top of the case, it will not fix. The new iPad Pro can be marketed as an oriental agnostic computer as far as it holds in your hands, but with Smart Connector and Pencil's magnetic connector only on one side, the device only supports Smart Keyboard Folio orientation. Given what this accessory is designed for, this makes perfect sense.

If I had to point out a minor issue with the magnetic connection between folio and iPad Pro, I would say that removing the keyboard from iPad now requires paying more attention and stronger moves. To loosen iPad from the folio enclosure, hold down the keyboard with one hand, then pull the iPad slightly out of one of the two slots over the numeric keypad. Then you have to loosen it from the folio case too. Again, I would not have expected anything else but this interaction is worth remembering when comparing Smart Keyboard Folio with the old Smart Keyboard. To design a folio case that contained a keyboard and was still thin enough to carry around everyday, Apple had to trust a robust magnetic connection between the iPad and the case and it is only natural that several magnets mean more power required for to loosen them. The upside – that's why I think Apple's magnets setup was ultimately the right decision – it's almost impossible that this case is accidentally pulled from iPad Pro.

The second new feature of Smart Keyboard Folio is the support of two different type modes that, according to Apple, are optimized to be "easily adjustable for use in round or desktop." Unlike the Smart Keyboard, the Smart Keyboard Folio comes with two long cuts over the keyboard where the iPad can mount magnetically in landscape mode and change the viewing angle of the display.

Technically, this is a smart engineering feat that adds alternatives to the classic Smart Keyboard design without increasing its mass, creating complexity, or forcing you to attach multiple clips to your iPad screen. In practice, I think to call one of the two angles "desktop mode" is a mistake.

I find Smart Keyboard Folio's desk position (the second track from the bottom) to put the iPad screen at a steep angle that is uncomfortable to work with when sitting at a desk. I do not know how Apple's Smart Keyboard Folio designers like to sit when they enter in front of a computer, but I'm 6 feet tall and I find that keyboard desktop mode does not prevent headlight (I'm still staring down on a screen that's far lower than my line of sight) while it's too steep compared to how I want to use a MacBook on a desktop. I would have liked Apple to call this a "media mode" to watch video while you lay down with an iPad Pro in front of you, but I guess they prefer to shine over the notion that iPads are merely consumables (though , I have to say watching YouTube and Netflix on this device is pretty cute.)

As a result, I've used my Smart Keyboard Folio in "lap mode" all the time and with better results. The viewing angle of this mode is comparable to that of the original Smart Keyboard for the 12.9 "iPad Pro. When I take advantage of portable mode with iPad in my lap, I think Apple could improve on Smart Keyboard but we're still far from the comfort of a MacBook or solutions like Brydge and Logitech keypads.

The powerful design and enhanced weight distribution of the Smart Keyboard Folio make it less than a smart keyboard when writing with an iPad Pro in your lap, but it's still cutting back and forth. I do not know what else Apple can do to fix this: this configuration is tough with design, so Apple needs to add extra weight to the keyboard to better balance it in portable mode, but it would defeat the purpose of designing a keyboard cover that is thin and light.

Smart keyboard always went a good line between portability and writing efficiency, and this has never been more clear than it is with th e new smart keyboard portfolio. While I find desktop mode to be a mistake on the market (or just a strange idea of ​​how people are going to sit on the desk), I think Apple managed to balance the compromises involved in using laptops and the keyboard's compact form factor well. If I want, I can write blog posts with Smart Keyboard Folio on my lap, as I did for more parts of this article.

That brings me to my feelings about the keyboard itself. Smart Keyboard Folio does not care about me with Smart Keyboard, the fact that it is not backlit, does not offer any special iOS feature keys, and is too small for my hands.

While I understand why Apple needs to make the keyboard as compact as possible the smart keyboard has always been too cramped for my hands and writing style. My problem is twice: the keys are too small and the keyboard's vertical area is too short. Comparing the smart keyboard to Apple's Magic keyboard and a Brydge keyboard should give you an idea of ​​what I mean.

As a result of smaller size compared to other keyboards, I have to be extra careful when I type on Smart Keyboard and I accidentally press the ground in the bottom left corner with the palm of my left hand triggering the modal keyboard switch in the center of the screen. These issues are exacerbated by the fact that the keys themselves do not have much travel compared to other keyboards I'm used to, which lowers my writing. For what it's worth, I like the sound like the Smart Keyboard layer when I write and when my fingers glide over the fabric (which seems unchanged from the previous generation).

After spending the last few years writing on the Logitech Slim Combo keyboard, saw a Magic Keyboard, and when I managed to get my hands on a working device, the Brydge keyboard is clearly clear that Apple's only official keyboard option for iPad Pro is not & # 39; t a pro keyboard at all. Yes, the smart keyboard is thin and portable, but to achieve it, it sacrifices the important features I want when I write for a few hours of iPad Pro on a desktop. As I mentioned above, the smart keyboard is not backlit. Adding backlight on keyboards means making them thicker, but Apple may have explored a slim design with keys that shine in the dark.

In addition to the lack of backlighting, Smart Keyboard does not offer any kind of media or system control features: it does not come with media playback controls; It does not have integrated shortcuts for the function "go home", search or multitasking; It does not give you a dedicated Siri key that can call the Siri Assistant. The latter would be useful when combined with Type to Siri on iPad; Instead, if you want to work with Siri while typing on a smart keyboard, either throw "Hey Siri" or reach the top of the new iPad Pro, which I find to be difficult and incoherent from the rest of the Experience.

The lack of these Smart Keyboard options summarizes my troubled relationship with Apple's only offer for iPad Pro customers. Other Bluetooth Keyboards, including Apple Magic Keyboard, save you time when you work on an iPad Pro by entering core system features in the keyboard itself. The smart keyboard forces you to stretch your arm to the screen to interact with features like multitasking, Control Center and Siri, which is not what I expect from a $ 199 keyboard (€ 219 in Italy – $ 246) designed by the same company which makes iPad Pro . The "smart" part of Smart Keyboard is still true to its name thanks to its elegant folding design and instant interconnection; But as someone living to live and like working on an iPad Pro, connected to a keyboard, I'm disappointed with the lack of professional features in Apple's Smart Keyboard, three years after the debut.

Smart Keyboard Folio Miscellanea

Here are some other notes about Smart Keyboard Folio that did not fit anywhere else:

  • Smart Keyboard Folio does not come with microfiber lining on the inside as it is not folded with two layers like the original Smart keyboard . This design avoids the "bump" that the Smart Keyboard had when it was closed on top of the iPad, resulting in a flat and elegant design of folio, but it also means that the iPad screen is directly attached to keys and the two tracks close . I have not noticed any problems with the screen getting dirty due to the lack of microfiber protection, but I'm curious whether this direct location will have any effect on key failure over a long period of time. We see.
  • iPad Pro with pencil and smart keyboard portfolio fits into the old Apple leather sleeve for the 12.9 "iPad Pro, but it's loose fit due to the smaller footprint of the 2018 model. It is not recommended to use the old leather sleeve for this new iPad Pro.
  • Smart Keyboard Folio does not offer a "media mode" to hold the iPad upside down without the keyboard placed in front of it. You can fold the entire keyboard behind iPad if you want to use the software keyboard but you will feel the keys on the backside While holding the device. Although keystrokes are not detected because the bottom of the iPad is not magnetically attached to one of the folio tracks, it's strange to hold an iPad and feel the keyboard in the back.
  • As MacStory readers know, I spend some time every week working from my car while waiting for my boyfriend to finish learning her dance class. Unfortunately, I find the portable viewing angle and compact keyboard not to be ideal for entering the driver's seat. Perhaps I should consider switching to the more comfortable passenger seat of a new Brydge keyboard with an adjustable hinge coming out.
  • Folio's flat design is functional but boring.


Keyboard recommendations are inherently subjective: iPad users have different needs, different priorities and different budgets. If you appreciate good portability, you do not have to worry about charging a keyboard, and with this new iPad Pro, front and back cover of iPad, Smart Keyboard Folio is probably what you want, even if it's not cheap. If you liked Smart Keyboard before, you'll appreciate the versatility Apple has added in this iteration.

Personally, I want Apple to provide its pro iPad customers with more options . I would like to do some of the Smart Keyboard portability for a larger, heavier keypad with adjustable angles and additional features integrated integrally with iOS and apps. Perhaps one day Apple will offer a smart keyboard test to accommodate iPad Pro users like me; Until that happens, I'll keep up with promising alternatives based on Bluetooth and the new Smart Connector.

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