About Apple’s Smart Keyboard for iPad Pro

This thing is a unique typing experience.

And I kind of like it.

The folding nature of the device is initially awkward, but easy to master. Out of the box it was slightly disorienting, but you quickly find that the keyboard is somehow engineered to fold itself into one of its two positions — one for typing, the other for “viewing” — with very little coaxing. Getting it to fold back on top of the screen for protection and carrying also comes easily after a few first awkward tries. My 8-year-old nephew figured it out pretty quickly. He even thought it was fun.

I think there’s a third position to the keyboard — sketching — where you just flip the entire keyboard behind the iPad so it’s flat and easy to hold like a regular sketchbook.

Unfortunately, the keyboard offers no capacity for storing the rare, extremely expensive Apple Pencil. Huge shortcoming.

The feel of the keys when you’re typing is unusual. The entire typing surface is like a fabric that’s been drenched in some kind of plastic. It’s totally sealed up. There’s no spaces around the keys or anything for crumbs to collect in or water to spill in. But that surface is not just about protecting the device’s guts, it’s also part of the key mechanism. 

You can feel that there’s nothing under the keys pushing them back up. Instead, after each press, they pop themselves back up with the surface tension of that plasticy fabric. A regular keyboard is designed to push the keys back up after you press on them. These ones are pulled. The feeling reminds me of that big bubble in the middle of the old Trouble game. It’s very quick.

It’s flimsy. If you don’t have a solid surface under it, the keyboard will flex slightly as you type. It’s doing that now as I type with it on my lap. It’s not a huge flex, just a movement. It doesn’t impact typing performance, really.

The device is way lighter than the Logitech keyboard. Once you have it attached to the iPad Pro you barely even notice its added weight.

The Smart Keyboard is going to appeal to a different user than the Logitech CREATE keyboard. The CREATE will work best for someone who is ditching their notebook computer in favour of the iPad. Apple’s Smart Keyboard will win favour among native iPad users who want to enhance the functinality of a device they’re already familiar with.