Apple’s iPad Keyboard Might Finally Get a Trackpad

Posted on February 28, 2020 by Mehedi Hassan in Apple, Mobile, iOS, iPadOS with 20 Comments

Apple advertises its iPad Pro as a computer, but believe it or not, the device does not yet have a first-party keyboard with a built-in trackpad.

That might be changing soon, as Apple is apparently planning to introduce a new iPad Smart Keyboard keyboard with a built-in trackpad, according to a new report from The Information.

The new Smart Keyboard could launch along with Apple’s next-generation of the iPad Pro. The report claims that the built-in trackpad on the upcoming iPad accessory is part of Apple’s effort to position the iPad Pro as an alternative to laptops.

Apple’s head of software Craig Federighi recently teased some upcoming iPadOS updates, and that could obviously include support for the new built-in trackpad on the iPad keyboard. iPadOS already has support for mice, but it’s more of an accessibility feature. With a new update to iPadOS, it’s possible Apple could introduce much better support for using a mouse with an iPad.

In fact, Apple’s latest beta for iPadOS includes lots of keyboard-related updates that could potentially be for the new iPad keyboard:

It’s not exactly clear when Apple is going to introduce the new iPad Pro, but current rumors point towards a March launch.

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Comments (20)

20 responses to “Apple’s iPad Keyboard Might Finally Get a Trackpad”

  1. simont

    If it works like a proper mouse, that is great news. If it is just that giant dot again, then not so interesting. I wonder if this means the Mac will eventually get a touch screen.

  2. Mark999

    Just give the MacBook a touch screen.

    All this extra complexity will end up ruining what was a simple and intuitive device. I might as well get rid of my iPad Pro and just use my touchscreen Windows laptop. An iPad ‘computer’ will never be as useful as a proper non-Mac computer because of the quirky restrictions Apple puts into its OS that always need some kind of workaround.

    • jaredthegeek

      In reply to Mark999:

      I don't know, iPads fulfill the computing needs of probably 80% of the population. Web browsing, basic office apps, light picture and video editing. Its also app centric which people really like and the battery life is solid.

      • Paul Thurrott

        It's still mostly a consumption device, but yes, since most people don't create content, or much content, it could satisfy many needs. Adding a keyboard with a trackpad could put it over the top for (many of) the rest of us.
  3. fishnet37222

    So, they're copying Samsung with their Keyboard Book Cover for the Galaxy Tab S6.

  4. bnyklue

    If Apple executes this right, it has the potential to kill off the PC market for good.

  5. jchampeau

    I would settle for a keyboard cover that isn't sharp around the edges and is thus really uncomfortable to hold for long periods of time like while reading a book.

  6. silenthero117

    Which one is this again? Toaster converging with refrigerator or the other way around?

  7. r2d22

    What were they saying about Surface? ... LOL

  8. Daekar

    So is this a giant finger-simulating dot, or a proper mouse? Because that makes a huge difference. It's going to be funny to watch the chaos over the next 5 years if it is a proper mouse. They'll get lots of users, but then they will suffer the problem that power-users who rely on the mouse are going to demand denser application controls which will end up less suited for touch, and a bifurcated mouse/non-mouse app population will develop. And ultimately they'll end up exactly where Windows 8 was in terms of the quality of the user experience.

    • nbplopes

      In reply to Daekar:

      I think mouse will be progressively fill its rightful role as the primary input method on the desk or lap with iPads on par with touch. This o believe will happen this year.

      For productivity the iPad Pro will always be a desktop PC companion device or a powerfull light weight laptop alternative. The likes of MacBook Air or Surface Go. In many instances it already goes up and around these devices, limited only by desk or lap operation. These empowered by solely third part apps. Mouse aside, today its operational performance is simply impressive for its size.

      Pretending to be anything else , either conceptually (touch nirvana driven by Apple R&D) or in reality (the uncompromised lightweight laptop PC that does it all, MS Nirvana) it’s a waste of users time and money. But it does keep the ink rolling without sense.

      • Andi

        In reply to nbplopes:

        The ipad pro or the ipad, since they are literally the same hardware class with exactly the same OS, cannot run rings around anything powered by macos/windows. Multitasking sucks, refreshing apps are the order of the day, literally anything other than basic text manipulation is torture and you cannot run any development on them.

        • nbplopes

          In reply to Andi:

          Well there is fact and there is fiction. I state for a fact using the same kind of apps that goes around any MacBook Air, Surface Pro, ... First hand experience.

          And no, not all iPad's have the same kind of processing power! Everyone who as used a Pro and an entry level iPad knows this first hand. But that is not what you are implying by using the term "same class", so I guess it's just an impression of yours base on suppositions, not actual experience.

          Now, they are best tailored for different kinds of usage. They overlap in some cases, others not really.

          So selection is done by use case. Not simply sheer performance and autonomy.

          But hey, who cares. As far as humans go fact in fiction go and in hand today as ever, and technology has not changed that in anyway whatsoever.

        • curtisspendlove

          In reply to Andi:

          Text manipulation is still pretty bad without a keyboard.

          The main reason you can’t do any meaningful development on them is mostly on Apple’s restrictions for the platform.

          For instance, if they opened up the ability to package runtimes then you could do a *lot* more (install ruby / nodejs / etc).

          • nbplopes

            In reply to curtisspendlove:

            These devices are not tailored for development tasks. They are ok for remoting to a workstation, but that is were it stops.

            The way I see now the role of the iPad Pro as a device its very clear. The best parallel I kind find is in motor vehicles. All of its can take a person from point A to point B, yet in practice in way way different and with different limitations.

            The iPad Pro it's like a powerful high speed motorbike. It can take two persons from point A to B way faster than many cars, even in a motorway. Not to mention traffic jams. Yet, if you want to carry your entire family around all the time you need a sedan (say a nice Surface Laptop or MacBook Pro 13). And if you are the kind of person that needs to cary everything around, maybe a Caravan (MacBook Pro 16) or a Truck (a Powerful Workstation) is better. Or maybe you just prefer the comfort of a Mercedes Smart, just enough to have some bottle of water around or give a lift to someone (Surface Go) ...

    • anoldamigauser

      In reply to Daekar:

      For those users whose arms get too tired constantly lifting them to touch the screen.

  9. Vladimir Carli

    If this is true, I’ll get an iPad Pro on day 1. I have basically been waiting for years for this to happen

  10. darrellprichard

    I'd be happy if they'd just show some "courage" and invent backlighting. At the prices Apple charges for the Smart Keyboards, there's absolutely no excuse for not having backlit keys.