The iPad is what many people think of as a big iPhone, but Apple has always wanted to make it a productivity tool, with the Smart Keyboard, Apple Pencil and iPad OS on the app to draw a line between itself and the iPhone. Apple is launching a keyboard accessory with a built-in trackpad later this year, according tomedia Outlet The Information, in another move to push the iPad to the MacBook.
After all these years of effort, how far is the iPad from the productivity tool?
Get rid of the large iPhone and approach the MacBook
The iPad started out as somewhere between the iPhone and MacBook, and the real move to the laptop was when the first generation of the iPad Pro was released. The most obvious change is that its screen size for the first time surpasses the size of a traditional tablet, reaching 12.9 inches. Also released are Apple Pencil, which designers can use to do some fine-grained painting. The first-generation iPad Pro also added multitasking, and the iPad began to move away from the limitations of mobile devices.
The third-generation iPad Pro in 2018, Apple’s first attempt at a full screen on a tablet, replacing the ancestral Lightning interface with USB-C, could theoretically match the performance of the A12X Bionic chip. Apple Pencil and Smart Keyboard have also been upgraded to the second generation.
Starting with iOS 13 in 2019, Apple officially changed the iPad operating system to iPad OS. It’s not just the name that’s changing, it’s the system that adds more efficiency features to the iPad. The iPad started supporting external storage devices with a hierarchical file management system. Officially supports external mouse and trackpad, along with Sidecar, the iPad can be used as an extended screen for your MacBook. Catalyst technology for developers makes it easy to port iPad apps to your Mac.
Competitive competition for third-party keyboards
With a mouse, keyboard accessories, and iPad OS, the iPad is ready for some basic work, but it’s a little bit of a productivity tool compared to the MacBook. To give the light and portable iPad an operating experience that is close to the MacBook, a number of third-party vendors have introduced “Magic Keyboard” accessories.
Broad, for example, has launched an iPad external keyboard that instantly “transforms” the iPad into a MacBook. It looks very close to the MacBook keyboard, but has a longer keystroke and supports backlight adjustment. When secured with snaps on both sides, the hinge design allows the user to adjust the iPad to any angle up to 180 degrees. The Brydge keyboard was well received after its launch and even been endorsed by Apple, which is available for sale on apple’s official website (in some parts).
In January, Brydge announced that it would launch an upgraded version of the keyboard, the Brydge Pro, which includes trackpad support and is like a MacBook with the iPad Pro.
The competition for such products has even sparked a legal battle last year. Another brand called Libra also has a Brydge-like product, and their external keyboards have been added to the trackpad design earlier.
Many people may also have doubts about the iPad’s ability to produce content, but the advent of the third-party keyboard and Apple’s follow-up on accessories have shown that this is not a pseudo-demand. The iPad Pro Series is like An Apple’s assault on a laptop, from hardware configurations to accessory support, trying to distance itself from other iPad series. The iPad Pro had previously been announced in the supply chain, and this time the news feed said the external keyboard on the built-in trackpad was to be released with the new iPad Pro.
If Apple had introduced its own external keyboard with a built-in trackpad, it would certainly have more support on the software, and the experience would be better for users, but it could be another Sherlock event for these third-party vendors.