Tag Archive for ‘Magic Keyboard’

‘Just $349 to Make My iPad… Worse?’ ➝

Some interesting thoughts from Matt Hauger, building off of my Magic Keyboard review. Specifically my concerns about the accessory making the iPad less inviting to use when I keep the device inside of it full time.

➝ Source: anchor.fm

Magic Keyboard for iPad Pro

Magic Keyboard for iPad Pro 11-inch

I ordered the Magic Keyboard for 11-inch iPad Pro just a few hours after pre-orders became available. I had a feeling that this was going to be a transformative accessory and based on the reactions I’ve seen online so far, that hunch was correct. Now that I’ve spent a few days with it, I can confirm it’s an incredible piece of tech, but I’m not quite sure its going to change the way I personally use my iPad.

When the package arrived, it was much heavier than I was expecting. Even after seeing reviews that noted its weight, I wasn’t really prepared for it. After just a few minutes with it unboxed, though, the term “heavy” was rapidly replaced with “dense”.

The Magic Keyboard is heavier than most of us expected, sure. But it’s not really the weight itself that’s so surprising, its the accessory’s weight compared to its physical size. It feels solid, like it’s absolutely packed with technology. Albeit to a lesser degree, this is a similar feeling to what I had when I purchased the first iPhone in 2007 — I just couldn’t believe how small it was with the features it offered.

The Magic Keyboard is filled to the brim with magnets, features a comfy little trackpad, a backlit keyboard, a nifty hinge that’s reminiscent of the iMac G4, and an extra USB-C port to boot. It doesn’t seem like Apple should have been able to get this much into such a small package. But they have and it’s delightful.

The magnets in the lid are very strong. To the point where I’m not worried at all about the iPad falling off when I don’t want it to. That does make it a bit tricky to remove the iPad, though. I tend to brace the keyboard with one hand and lift up on one of the bottom corners of the iPad itself with the other. It’s a bit too easy to have the iPad slip during this process, though. Often this causes the opposite corner of the iPad to bump against the keyboard, which isn’t ideal.

It’s definitely a trade-off, but I’d rather it be a little finicky to remove than have to worry about the iPad falling out unexpectedly. And I’d place this in the nit-pick category, for sure, it’s not like it’s that difficult to gracefully remove the iPad.

The backlit keyboard feels comfortable to type on, despite some of the keys being smaller than usual. I might have made slightly different decisions when designing the layout than Apple did, specifically the narrow hyphen key, but that’s mostly because of my own typing style — I almost certainly over use em-dashes.

It also would have been nice to see a function row with an escape key, but I don’t know how often I’d really use those. It’s omission is likely because of physical design limitations, though. If a function row was added, it would often be located uncomfortably far behind the bottom edge of the iPad. Since that’s the case, it’s probably better that Apple left it out.

You can get the functionality of the escape key mapped to one of the modifier keys, though. If you navigate to Settings > General > Keyboard > Hardware Keyboard > Modifier Keys, you can select one of the modifier keys and set it to act as an escape key. I’ve done so for the globe key, since I don’t use anything other than the standard virtual keyboard on my iPad.

The trackpad below the keyboard, is what many consider to be the star of the show. It’s the hardware feature that really sets the Magic Keyboard apart from what we’ve seen with the iPad previously. It functions exactly how you’d hope it to, giving you the ability to two-finger scroll, three-finger-swipe, tap to click, and all of the other nifty trackpad features that Apple added with iPadOS 13.4.

The physical size of the trackpad isn’t as generous as we’ve seen in Apple’s MacBook-line, but that’s because of the size limitation of the iPad itself. In the first few days with the accessory, I would mouse around with my middle or index finger and then attempt to click with my thumb. That’s my normal behavior on the MacBook Air and naturally have been trying to do so on the iPad too. But too frequently I would find myself missing the bottom edge of the trackpad entirely. I’ve since adjusting my hand positioning a bit, keeping my thumb a smidge closer to my mousing finger. I’ve also been more heavily relying on tap-to-click, which has worked just fine for me.

Coming from such a large trackpad on the MacBook Air, getting used to the trackpad in the Magic Keyboard has been an adjustment, but nothing that was insurmountable. And already I’m finding myself rarely running into these issues anymore.

The trackpad might be what sets the Magic Keyboard apart from the crowd, but the hinge system is makes the accessory’s design so striking. It’s clearly designed with weight distribution in mind. Allowing the iPad to float over the keyboard means that the entire package’s center of gravity is never too far back, which would cause it to tip over too easily.

With the two hinge system, I’ve never been concerned about the device tipping over. Even when tapping at the top corners of the display with the hinge pushed as far back as it can be — this thing isn’t going to tip over unless you really want it to. And that’s while allowing for a pretty comfortable range of motion. I’m sure there will be some users that are left wanting more — especially if they are a bit taller or frequently use their iPad at a standing desk. But for me, it’s just right.

I find my fingers bumping up against the bottom edge of the iPad while typing on occasion. Typically when I’m reaching for the hyphen or delete keys. I think I type with my hands a bit higher than most, though, so some owners might never run into that issue at all. It’s not exactly bad and it’s happening far less frequently than it did when the keyboard first arrived, so perhaps it’ll simply take a bit more time to adjust for. But if you keep your hands a bit high over your keyboard while typing, it might be something to keep in mind.

Built-in to the left side of the hinge is an additional USB-C port that can be used for charging. My buddy Matt Birchler did some testing and found that the port charges the iPad Pro at nearly the same speed as the iPad’s built-in port when using the stock charger. That was surprising to me — I presumed it would charge at a much slower rate, like half of the normal speed. But this is great news for iPad users that plan to use the Magic Keyboard full time.

Many iPad owners will find it useful to have an additional port available, so they can charge their device through the Magic Keyboard while another accessory is connected through the iPad Pro’s built-in port. But I’ve never actually connected anything other than a charging cable to my iPad. And I’m in the habit of charging my iPad each night, so charging the device while I use it is a rare sight. Maybe when the battery has aged a few years I’ll make use of it, but until then, it’s superfluous for me.

The Magic Keyboard’s base is quite rigid and feels like it was built to last. That combined with the excellent weight-distribution of the double hinge, means that the Magic Keyboard gives you a great typing experience on your lap too. I wrote the entirety of this review on the Magic Keyboard and much of that time was spent with it right on my lap.

It’s not exactly as comfortable to use on your lap as a MacBook is, but that’s sort-of to be expected. Given how much of the weight is located above the keyboard, though, I think Apple did an outstanding job engineering this thing to be useable on your lap. And that’s a huge leap forward compared to what we had available to us previously.

But the biggest surprise to me about the Magic Keyboard for iPad Pro and what has really shaped my thoughts about it overall is the fact that it made my iPad less inviting to use. For the first couple of days, I kept my iPad in it full time and found myself reaching for my iPhone when I typically would have been using the iPad. Perhaps because of the greater barrier to entry in opening the device with the keyboard attached — the magnets are strong and unlike MacBook’s there isn’t a cutout where you can easily open the hinge.

Or it could also be the indirect nature of interacting with the iPad through the keyboard and trackpad. It doesn’t lend itself well to touching the screen because of its mostly vertical position. And I really enjoy directly interacting with my apps through touch.

It also could have been the added weight, but whatever the specifics are, the Magic Keyboard has taught me that holding the iPad Pro in my hands is my favorite way to use the device by far. And anything that gets in the way of that tends to discourage me from actually using it.

Now that isn’t to say I don’t like the Magic Keyboard. Quite the opposite, actually — I love the Magic Keyboard. It’s my favorite accessory for the device. But for me, it isn’t something I plan to keep my iPad in permanently. The vast majority of the time, I’m going to continue using my iPad Pro exactly how I was before — setting it in Twelve South’s Compass Pro to watch videos, holding it in my hands on the couch to browse the web, tapping away on the screen to compose tweets and shorter links here on Initial Charge, and so on.

The Magic Keyboard plays an important role for me — it will become my default keyboard for the iPad Pro. Instead of getting out my Canopy by Studio Neat when I want to type for long stretches, I’ll grab Apple’s Magic Keyboard instead. This will let me enjoy the benefits of the integrated trackpad, physical keyboard, and its comfortable lap-top usage when I need it. And when I’m done writing, I can detach the iPad and use it as I always have — re-establishing the inviting nature of the platform that I’ve grown so fond of.

Is that worth the $299 price tag? It is for me. But I spent about half that on Apple’s standard Magic Keyboard alongside a Canopy. And I bought those specifically for the iPad — it’s not like I had the keyboard laying around and bought the Canopy to use with it. So I’m not above spending a bit too much money on accessories for my devices.

Considering what the Magic Keyboard for iPad Pro brings to the table, I think it’s worth it. Especially if you care a lot about the typing experience and want something that offers unmatched integration with the iPad Pro and iPadOS. It’s a slick piece of tech that every iPad Pro owner should, at the very least, consider adding to their kit.

Magic Keyboard for iPad Pro Available to Pre-Order Now ➝

I ordered mine earlier today and it has an estimated delivery date between April 24 and May 1. That’s much earlier than I expected given that “May” was the originally announced release date.

➝ Source: apple.com

The iPad Pro

iPad Pro

I’ve been waiting for a new iPad release since last fall. The iPad Air 2 that I’ve been using as my primary computer since early 2015 was starting show its age. Bluetooth was becoming less reliable, the system itself felt sluggish, and battery life was getting pretty poor. It had served me well over the past five years, but I was very happy to retire it in favor of the newly released iPad Pro.

The announcement of the iPad Pro wasn’t exactly a surprise, it had been rumored for a few months at least. But with the state of the world at the moment, it wasn’t obvious exactly when or how Apple was going to actually end up announcing it. When I first saw the press release, I glanced through the product pages to get a feel for what it offered and then immediately placed my order.

I ended up with the 11-inch, 128GB, WiFi-only, space gray model. I haven’t spent more than 30 minutes with one of the larger, 12.9-inch Pros, but that was enough for me to know for sure that it wasn’t the right size for me. The vast majority of the time I’m using my iPad, it’s lounging out on the couch and I think the 12.9-inch size is better suited for iPad users that spend most of their time at a desk. Or perhaps artists that want a bit more canvas to work with. Given how I planned to use the iPad, the 11-inch was a natural choice for me.

As for the decision to go with the WiFi-only model. While I travel a few times each year for work, at the moment I don’t even plan to bring my iPad with me on these trips. I’m so busy doing my standard day-to-day tasks, working on in-person projects, and socializing in real life with my distributed teammates that I don’t really have time to use the iPad.

On my last work trip I brought my work laptop, iPad, iPhone, and Nintendo Switch. The Nintendo Switch never got powered on and I only ended up taking my iPad out once or twice. But I could have done everything from my iPhone, so I’ll be leaving my iPad at home from now on.

If that changes, though, tethering with my iPhone works just fine for connectivity when WiFi isn’t available. It’s not as slick as having the cellular networking built-in, but it doesn’t cost me a cent more to use and, in my experience, offers great speeds and reliability.

I was very happy to learn that Apple increased the base storage for the iPad Pro. The iPad Air 2 that I was coming from had 64GB of storage, which has been fine. But for the sake of future-proofing, having a bit of extra breathing room is a nice touch. I mean, I used the Air 2 for five years and I expect I’ll use this new iPad Pro for roughly the same amount of time. 64GB might be fine today, but I can’t say for certain that will be the case in 2025.

When the iPad actually arrived on March 25, the most striking difference between it and my previous iPad Air 2 was the lack of home button. I went through that transition on the iPhone side of things this past fall when I upgraded my iPhone 8 to an iPhone 11 Pro. So far, it has been smooth sailing. It only took me a day or two before using an iPad with a home button felt foreign to me.

I miss Touch ID quite a bit, though. It was relatively slow on my iPad Air 2, but it almost always worked. I keep my iPad in landscape mode and it was very comfortable to rest my right thumb on the home button whenever I unlocked the device. But on the iPad Pro, my left hand tends to obstruct the Face ID system. iPadOS notifies me with a handy little indicator, but it’s such a pain.

Do most iPad users actually use their device in portrait orientation? I suspect not and that means that the majority of iPad Pro users end up running into this “Camera covered” notice several times each day. I hope Apple eventually makes the switch to thinking about the iPad as a landscape-first device — rotating the logo on the back and moving the front-facing camera to one of the longer edges.

I’ve really enjoyed the Pro’s 11-inch display, when compared to the 9.7-inch display of the Air 2. It’s such a cozy size. The entire device is barely larger than the iPad Air 2, but still features this stunning display. Watching YouTube videos, viewing photos, and typing with the on-screen keyboard are a much better experience when you have more surface area to utilize. I haven’t found the increased refresh rate of the ProMotion display to be too impressive, though. I just don’t see the difference in normal use. Perhaps my eyes aren’t capable of perceiving that type of improvement.

Speaking of the on-screen keyboard, though. It was jarring at first to have those additional keys on the virtual keyboard. I found myself miss-typing because I’d sort-of lose myself on screen. It only took a day or two before it felt okay to me, but it was a weird couple of days. But I sure wish they didn’t include a caps lock key. I still haven’t hit that thing on purpose and in the extremely rare circumstances where I want it, isn’t double-tapping the shift key good enough?

The overall hardware aesthetics of the iPad Pro have been a pleasant change when compared to the iPad Air 2. I wasn’t too sure about the flat edges, with my primary concern being that it would be difficult to pick up off of a flat surface. But its no more difficult to pick up than the iPad Air 2 was. The benefit, though, is that its significantly easier to adjust the volume on the Pro because the buttons aren’t hidden from the front by the curvature of the device.

The camera bump is less than ideal. When laid flat, the device sits off-kilter and it has a bit of a wobble when tapping near the adjacent corners. But I’m very glad to have an improved camera available to me in this device. It isn’t quite as good as my iPhone 11 Pro — no telephoto lens — but it is close enough in most circumstances.

With a little one in the house, I take a lot of pictures now. And prior to the iPad Pro, I would have to reach for my iPhone whenever I wanted to take a photo. With the improved camera system, though, I can quickly take a snapshot regardless of what device I’m using and know that I’m going to get good results. This hasn’t occurred too frequently, but the peace of mind is worth it. Josh is only going to be a baby once and I don’t want to miss capturing any of these precious moments because my iPhone wasn’t within reach.

I’m ecstatic to have another device in my life that features USB-C. It lets me use the same power adapter with my iPad Pro as I do with my MacBook Air and means that most accessories I purchase for either can be utilized on both. This brings a couple of thoughts to the forefront, though:

  • When is the iPhone going USB-C? I love Lightning, but I’m ready to move on and hope my iPhone 11 Pro is the last iOS device I own that uses an Apple-specific connector.
  • Why aren’t there any power adapters that have more than two USB-C ports? I want the cables that I use to charge my devices to also be able to connect those devices to my iPad or MacBook Air. I’m not interested in power adapters that offer a mixture of USB-C and USB-A — I want to go all-in on USB-C.

And on the topic of connecting devices, Sidecar has become one of my favorite iPadOS features. It wasn’t available on my iPad Air 2, so I’ve only had the opportunity to use it with my iPad Pro. Over the past week, there have been numerous occasions where I’ve connected my iPad via Sidecar and threw Slack or a second browser window on my iPad. It’s just so darn handy to get a little bit of extra screen real estate when you need it.

But getting back to using the iPad directly, this thing is a screamer. It was a little disappointing to learn that the A12Z offered next to no improvements when compared to the previous iPad Pro’s chip, but most people that buy the new iPad Pro are going to be coming from a much older model. For me, the iPad Pro is about three times faster than the iPad Air 2 in single core tasks and over four times faster in multi-core tasks, based on Geekbench 5.

Here are the benchmark results for all my devices, averaged over two runs:

Single CoreMulti-core
iPad Pro11204602
iPhone 11 Pro13283179
MacBook Air8191600
Mac Mini5471234
iPad Air 23731045

With the exception of my iPhone 11 Pro in single core performance, the iPad Pro is the fastest computer I own. By a lot. And it feels that way too. Everything on this device is so snappy that it has me wishing I could run Handbrake on it. Converting ripped Blu-ray discs would be a much nicer experience if I could run the app on my iPad Pro instead of one of my macOS devices.

I think the iPad Pro will serve me well as my primary computer for several years. It has more than enough horse power available, an excellent camera system, and a modern charging and accessory port. But Apple also announced a new keyboard for the iPad Pro, which features an integrated trackpad.

The upcoming Magic Keyboard with integrated trackpad will capitalize on the revamped pointer support added in iPadOS 13.4 and give users the opportunity to interact with their iPad like a traditional PC. I plan to purchase the accessory when it’s released, but I don’t think it will become my default interaction method.

Currently, I spend most of my time with my iPad on the couch, browsing the web, managing email, reading news, and occasionally publishing links here on Initial Charge — no physical keyboard, mouse, trackpad, cover, or case. None of that will change with the introduction of the Magic Keyboard. What will change is my setup during longer writing sessions.

When I sit down to write a longer piece for Initial Charge, I set my iPad in a Studio Neat Canopy and type on Apple’s wireless Magic Keyboard. This gives me a more comfortable typing experience for the longer stretches. But up until iPadOS 13.4, I would disconnect the hardware keyboard and edit the text using the virtual keyboard. This let me meander throughout the house while reading and gave me a more ergonomic way to move the insertion point for edits.

With iPadOS 13.4, I’ve started using the Magic Trackpad 2 while editing, which let me type the corrections on the physical keyboard without uncomfortably reaching for the screen to move the insertion point. It’s been nice. So when I purchase the Magic Keyboard with integrated trackpad, I’ll retire the Studio Neat Canopy, Magic Keyboard, and Magic Trackpad setup in favor of Apple’s new iPad Pro accessory.

But I’m a little unsure about the dual hinge nature of the Magic Keyboard for iPad Pro. Will it feel unstable? Was it given the second hinge for the sake of balance? Would the iPad be too top-heavy without it hovering over the keyboard? Will I be able to push the iPad back so that the silhouette is more akin to a traditional laptop?

Those questions are still left unanswered for the time being. But I can say with certainty that the iPad Pro is an excellent computer. It’s the most powerful I’ve ever owned and runs the most exciting operating system on the planet alongside my favorite applications. If you’re looking to jump into Apple’s tablet offerings or have an iPad that’s starting to feel a bit dated, you won’t regret buying the iPad Pro.

The New iPad Pro and Magic Keyboard With Trackpad ➝

Federico Viticci’s excellent overview of the new iPad Pro, iPadOS 13.4, and the Magic Keyboard with trackpad that was announced this past Wednesday.

I ordered an 11-inch, 128GB, space gray, WiFi-only model shortly after seeing news of the announcement. It’s scheduled to arrive in a few days and I plan on sharing my impressions of the device soon afterward. The iPad hardware itself seems like a nice evolution from the previous iPad Pro, but the new system-wide mouse cursor and the trackpad built-in to the Magic Keyboard feel like a massive leap forward.

I briefly played with the mouse support built-in to the existing release of iPadOS, but it never really felt fully baked. What they have in iPadOS 13.4 looks significantly better, though. I haven’t had a chance to actually try it yet, mostly because I’ve been avoiding betas on iPhone and iPad. But I’m excited to take it for a spin when it’s released on Tuesday.

➝ Source: macstories.net

Switching to a Wired Apple Keyboard ➝

Josh Ginter, on Apple’s Magic Keyboard with Numeric Keypad:

For one, my Magic Keyboard has suffered from that warping everyone talked about a few months ago. Does it inhibit the ability to type? No, not directly. But it drives me nuts every time I look at it.

Second, the Magic Keyboard has four feet on the bottom to give it some sort of friction with the desk. My current desk is on the shinier, more slippery side, so this is working against the Magic Keyboard from the start. However, those feet have tended to collect dust — dust which needs to be rubbed off, otherwise the Magic Keyboard slides all over the desk when typing. I suppose I could purchase a leather desk mat to keep the keyboard from sliding around. But I shouldn’t have to.

Third, I’ve begun to notice the impact Apple’s butterfly mechanism keys are having on my fingers and wrists. Like everyone else, when I get on a roll, it becomes easy to hammer down on a key just a little too hard. Do that hundreds and thousands of times and you’re left with sore fingers and wrists. In my cold basement, I feel like that impact is only exacerbated.

He’s moved back to an old, wired Apple keyboard for the time being and you can’t blame him with the problem’s outlined above.

I absolutely adore the original, smaller Magic Keyboard, though, and use it with my iPad daily. And I plan on getting the numeric keypad version alongside my next Mac sometime this summer. Even with all the potential problems, I want to try it myself. And if I experience the same issues that Josh has, I’ll also switch to an old wired keyboard — likely the one that came with my 2008 iMac.

Fixing the MacBook Pro ➝

Marco Arment, encouraging Apple to bring scissor keyswitches to the MacBook Pro keyboard:

The Magic Keyboard’s scissor switches feel similar, but with a bit more travel, and all of the reliability and resilience of previous keyboard generations. They’re a much better, more reliable, and more repairable balance of thinness and typing feel likely to appeal to far more people — even those who like the butterfly keyboards.

The Magic Keyboard only needs one change to be perfect for the MacBook Pro: returning to the “inverted-T” arrow-key arrangement by making the left- and right-arrow keys half-height again. This arrangement is much more natural and less error-prone because we can align our fingers by feeling the “T” shape, a crucial affordance for such frequently used keys that are so far from the home row.

I’ve been a huge fan of the Magic Keyboard since I picked one up earlier this year in my quest for Lightning everything. It feels great to type on, offers just the right amount of key travel, and produces a satisfying clicking sound when typing. This is the keyboard that should be in Apple’s laptops. And I’ll echo Marco’s caveat, the arrow keys should return to the “inverted-T” configuration. I love the Magic Keyboard, but I often feel lost when I’m trying to find a specific arrow key.

I agree with just about everything in Marco’s piece, but if Apple only listens to one of his suggestions, the keyboard is the most important. If I was in the market for a new Mac laptop, I could deal with the Touch Bar, I would probably enjoy the USB-C ports, and the charger is perfectly acceptable. The keyboard, though, would likely be a deal breaker for me.

I’m one of the few that has completely rebuilt my computing workflow on iOS, though. I have a Mac Mini in our office closet that functions as our home server and a MacBook Air that gets dusted off every month or two for some oddball tasks, but the vast majority of my computing takes place on iOS. However, not everyone has that luxury. The tasks I need to perform are just fine on iOS, but some things just aren’t possible on an iPhone or iPad yet — software development being one of the big ones.

If I absolutely needed to use a Mac to get my work done, I’d probably end up buying an iMac and sacrificing portability in favor of a keyboard I’ll actually enjoy using. Apple has historically had the best laptop keyboards on the market and that should still be the case.

Canopy by Studio Neat

From an accessory standpoint, I’m a bit of a minimalist. I don’t have a case on my iPhone or iPad and prefer to carry as few items in my tech bag as possible. The less I have to schlep around the better. And when I’m looking to add new items to my setup, I have a high barrier to entry — the product has to be well-made and provide incredible utility before it finds a permanent home in my kit.

For years, my iPad stand of choice was the Compass by Twelve South. A simple, foldable stand made out of heavy gauge steel with rubber feet. It can hold most iPads in portrait or landscape, at two different angles, without too much wobble when tapping the top corners of the screen.

The Compass is a great product, but Twelve South released an updated version — the Compass 2 — a few years ago, which is a major regression. The feet sit much closer together compared to the original Compass and, as a result, it offers far less stability when tapping on the edges of the screen. If you can still find an original Compass, I highly recommend it.

Canopy Beside iPhone and AirPods

I bought the Compass when it first become available — during the original iPad era. But last year it was beginning to show signs of its age with relatively loose hinges and one foot that swung further open than the other, which had my iPad sitting a bit askew. It worked, but I thought I was better off buying a new one before it became unusable and while Amazon still had them available.

The Compass was an important accessory for me. Whenever I would type a feature article, my iPad Air 2 would be propped-up in the Compass with my Bluetooth keyboard on the desk in front of it. I’ve typed tens of thousands of words with that setup and the thought of having to find a new stand was a bit unnerving — there’s very few iPad stands on the market that collapse into such a small package and still offer great stability for your device.

But earlier this year, in an effort to transition all of my accessories to Lightning-powered variants, I retired my old, AA-powered Apple Bluetooth Keyboard and purchased a Magic Keyboard. It took some getting used to, especially the odd arrow key configuration, but I’ve grown to love it. The keys produce a satisfying sound while typing and the slim profile allows it to easily slip into a small bag.

After a few months with the keyboard, I realized that my iPad habits were changing. I was writing less content for Initial Charge with the on-screen keyboard than ever before. Even if I just planned on writing a paragraph or two in a Linked List entry, I would get out the keyboard and setup my iPad in the Compass.

I can’t exactly put my finger on why this happened. Prior to purchasing the Magic Keyboard, I would frequently use the Compass alone, laid back in “typing mode”, to write shorter pieces with the on-screen keyboard. But over the past few months, the Magic Keyboard and Compass became inseparable, I never used one without the other. And I saw this as an opportunity to further simplify my kit.

Canopy Stacked on iPad

Studio Neat’s Canopy seemed like the perfect addition to my setup. The Canopy is a slim Magic Keyboard case that folds out into a stand for the iPad. It offers the functionality I need from the Compass without the increased volume in my bag — it only adds a few millimeters to each side of the Magic Keyboard.

I was first made aware of the Canopy when John Voorhees wrote about it on MacStories. It looked like a great product, which is what I would expect given Studio Neat’s reputation. With the idea of simplifying my setup in mind, I ordered the Canopy about a month ago and have used it on a near-daily-basis since it arrived.

My first surprise upon receiving the Canopy was that it attaches to the Magic Keyboard using “micro-suction pads”. Perhaps I should have read the product page a little more thoroughly, but for some reason I assumed the keyboard was attached in such a way that I could remove it more easily.

With these micro-suction pads, there’s a finite number of times your keyboard can be detached. With each removal, the suction pads’ stickiness weakens. When I first placed my keyboard inside the Canopy, it was a bit off-center and it took a few tries to get it right. Even with just a few removals, I could notice the degradation of stickiness. And because of that, you’ll probably want your Magic Keyboard to just live inside the Canopy.

Update 7/30/2017: Matt Gemmell offered a correction on Twitter — apparently the micro-suction pads don’t have a finite number of attachment cycles. They’re made out of tiny suction cups which can be cleaned with sticky tape.

Having your Magic Keyboard permanently placed inside the Canopy means that it probably isn’t a great fit for anyone that uses the same keyboard on their iPad as they do on their Mac. You could certainly lay the Canopy flat when your keyboard is paired with a Mac, but you’d need a fair bit of desk space between your keyboard and display, which might not be practical for some users.

iPad in Canopy

One concern I had before using it myself was the way the iPad sat up against the top edge of the keyboard — the Canopy doesn’t offer any material to act as a buffer between the two. There’s the possibility that the keyboard’s aluminum housing could scratch the iPad, but I haven’t had any blemishes develop yet.

In the four weeks that I’ve had the Canopy, it has held up quite well. I’ve noticed some minor fraying develop on the front edge from opening and closing, but overall, the whole thing feels solid. The material is rigid enough to hold your iPad without any wobble from screen taps and the snap mechanism that keeps the stand upright, while in use, and holds it closed, while it’s folded up, feels like it could withstand years of abuse. The fraying would be concerning, but I don’t expect it to snowball into something that renders the Canopy unusable.

Studio Neat’s Canopy is perfect for iPad-only (or iPad-mostly) users who enjoy typing on the Magic Keyboard and prefer to use their iPad without a case. Which isn’t to say that you couldn’t use the Canopy alongside an iPad case — there’s certainly enough room to — but it’s refreshing to find a product that’s designed to help you add a physical keyboard to your iPad that doesn’t also attach to your iPad. The Canopy gives you much of the benefits of an iPad keyboard case without having to actually use an iPad keyboard case — most of which are ugly and miserable to use.

The Canopy stands out from the keyboard accessory crowd because it combines sturdy materials and a brilliant aesthetic with a keyboard that feels good to type on. It folds up quickly to throw in a bag and sets up easily to reduce friction between you and your work. It’s the kind of accessory that doesn’t get in your way while your using it, but reminds you of how well-built and handsome it is every time you set it up or snap it closed.

At $40, the Canopy might seem like an expensive product, especially since you have to purchase the keyboard separately. But I think it offers enough utility in such a slim package that it’s more than worth the cost. If you’re looking for an iPad typing solution that doesn’t add much bulk to your bag, the Canopy is a great solution.