I’ve been using Apple Macintosh computers since 1987 and iPads since they came out in 2010.
I remember wondering whether the iPad could be a viable replacement for my MacBook Pro, and I’ve made that comment with every new iPad I’ve tried.
Conversely, for the last few years I’ve wished I could run iPhone and iPad apps on my MacBook Pro.
I think both wishes are close to coming true.
Apple announced last month that it would begin transitioning its Macintosh computers away from Intel processors to “Apple silicon,” which means they’ll have CPUs that Apple designs and manufactures.
Apple also announced that iOS apps from iPhones and iPads will run natively on the new Apple silicon-powered Macs.
So I’ll be able to run iOS apps on a new Mac, but what about my wish for an iPad that can take the place of my Mac? I think we’re almost there.
In 2019, Apple announced iOS was splitting. The iPhone would keep running on iOS, while the iPad would run a new variant called iPadOS that allowed the iPad to get some features not available on the iPhone.
The iPadOS update 13.4 introduced trackpad support for the iPad. Users can now use a trackpad to navigate around the screen instead of a finger.
Apple jumped in with a new Magic Keyboard (starting at $299) that combines a very nice full-size keyboard with a trackpad so users can have more of a laptop experience.
Apple has been making iPad keyboards for many years, and they are pretty nice, but the Magic Keyboard is nice on a whole new level.
First off, this keyboard costs just about as much as an entry-level iPad, and it works only with the newest iPad Pros (the ones without a home button).
The Magic Keyboard is no lightweight. Instead of just a folding leather cover that props up the iPad for use, the Magic Keyboard has a metal hinge with a floating cantilever design that suspends the iPad Pro above the keyboard.
Users can adjust the angle of the screen for comfort. The hinge rotates up to 130 degrees, and it stays in place solidly.
The iPad Pro has three small pins on the back that mate up with three connectors on the keyboard. Strong magnets connect the iPad and keyboard. The connectors also allow the iPad Pro to provide power to the Magic Keyboard.
The keyboard has a USB-C port that you can use to charge the iPad.
Since the connection is not wireless, there is no pairing to worry about. If the Magic Keyboard is connected, it will just work.
There are two sizes of iPad Pro, 11 inches and 12.9 inches, and there is a Magic Keyboard for each.
The Magic Keyboard for the 11-inch iPad Pro costs $299, while the Magic Keyboard for the 12.9-inch iPad Pro costs $349.
I’m not sure what to call an iPad trackpad, but I do know it’s a great way to interact with the tablet.
Many of us have used a laptop with a trackpad. Instead of the pointer being a small arrow, the iPad’s pointer is a small round dot about the size of a pencil eraser.
When you move the pointer around with the trackpad and move it over one of the app icons, it snaps to select it, allowing you to launch it with a click.
Working inside apps like word processors or browsers, it’s very easy to type and edit text. Moving the cursor to a specific point is now a breeze.
It really has me rethinking what I need from a laptop and whether an iPad Pro could be my only computer at home.
What about the keyboard?
Apple has gotten a lot of grief over the last few years about the feel of its MacBook Pro keyboards.
In the name of making things thinner and lighter, Apple went too thin with its portable keyboards to the point where typing on them felt too much like typing on a tabletop. There was very little “travel” on the keys when you pressed down on them.
These keyboards are known as butterfly keyboards, owing their name to the shape of the mechanism under the keys.
Some people didn’t seem to mind, but plenty of users let Apple know they were not pleased.
Starting with the 16-inch MacBook Pro, Apple redesigned the keys with new scissor switches.
Once again, the tech world is happy with the keyboards.
Apple used the new scissor switches for the Magic Keyboard, and everyone seems to agree that it feels great when you’re typing.
I still own a MacBook Pro with the older butterfly keyboard, and while I don’t complain too much, I do think the scissor switch keyboards are superior.
The keys are full-size and backlit, and typing is really comfortable and fast (at least for me).
The Magic Keyboard also doubles as a protective case for your iPad Pro.
It doesn’t cover the edges or provide much drop protection, but it does close to cover the front and back of the iPad to keep it free from scratches if you toss it in a bag.
One thing to keep in mind is if you have the iPad Pro mounted in the Magic Keyboard, you can’t just hold the iPad in your lap while you browse. The keyboard doesn’t fold all the way around the back the way previous iPad keyboards did.
If you want to use the iPad Pro in your lap to surf the internet or on a table to use the pencil to draw, you’ll need to take it out of the Magic Keyboard. This isn’t a big deal, and the magnets make it a snap.
The Magic Keyboard is wonderful, but its cost will keep if from being a must-have accessory. And the fact that you can buy another iPad for the price of the Magic Keyboard will make most people think twice about buying one.
But it is a marvel of engineering and a joy to use.
I’d say this is the closest I’ve been to a laptop experience on the iPad. If I were to replace my MacBook Pro, it would be with an iPad Pro and a Magic Keyboard.
I tend to do a lot of writing, so a comfortable keyboard really helps me.
We all have our own comfort zones.
Pros: Great keyboard, rock-solid hinge, no need for separate power or pairing.
Cons: Expensive. No drop protection.
Bottom line: If you want to replace your laptop or you do a lot of writing, the Magic Keyboard is for you.
(Article written by Jim Rossman)