I have a couple additional thoughts about Apple’s new Keyboard Folio cover they released for the new iPads. These are $179 and $199 add ons for the two models (Smart Keyboard Cover is/was $159/179). I am a huge fan of the Smart Keyboard Cover, for either size iPad Pro, I’ve long believed it made your purchase better. But there’s something that doesn’t sit right with me about this new Folio (granted I have not touched it, or seen it in person). Before I dive into those, the only iPad Pro worth buying or considering is the 12.9”, so I’ll base my thoughts on that only.
It’s Still Thick
The biggest complaint about these keyboards is that they are really thick. The Smart Keyboard Cover added a lot of thickness as it is damn near just as thick as the iPad Pro itself. The new Folio cover looks to stay with that pattern (though adds protection for the rear of the iPad).
Image from Apple’s product page.
That’s still thick. Which brings me to the next point…
Taking it on and off
One of the big advantages with the old keyboard cover, is that it was dead simple to easily shed the cover without much thought, and just as easy to reattach it meaning the thickness was not at issue when you weren’t typing because you took the cover off. In his initial impressions, Federico Viticci wrote:
I also had the impression that getting the iPad in and out of the folio case was a more involved process than the old Smart Keyboard, though that might just be the result of it being a new accessory that I’m not familiar with yet.
That’s a serious issue. The iPad becomes fatter by using this keyboard, and if it is even slightly harder to remove and put back on, then it becomes significantly less awesome.
The key to the greatness of the Smart Keyboard Cover was that you could snap it on and off at will, based on how you were about to use the device. There was no thought to it. Even Microsoft understands this with the keyboard covers they offer for the Surface line.
Which brings us to the price. It’s absurd. The keyboard folio cover costs $199 which is more money than you would spend on a really good mechanical keyboard. Here you are paying out the nose for size and portability. The typing experience is fine, but not as good as an evenly priced mechanical keyboard.
And, as Viticci also noted, there’s no dedicated iPad keys. Which, what the fuck? You’re making a keyboard which only works with one size of the iPad Pro, and you can’t give some dedicated keys on it?
And you get none of that for the pleasure of $199.
I know that’s rich coming from the guy who says the best backpack is $400, but when even I look at something and think it is over priced, well you might stop and think about that. Now to be fair, Apple thought about pricing here, because a Magic Keyboard + iPad Folio is… $199.
But the Logitech Folio with detachable Keyboard, is $150. Or you could get the Studio Neat Canopy (side note: I should get one of these to check out) for $40 and a Magic Keyboard for another $99 — and that keyboard will work with anything that has Bluetooth — even next year’s iPads which likely will be just different enough… I digress.
Or you could head over to Massdrop, buy my favorite mechanical keyboard, and get this nifty looking new stand, and still have a much better setup than what Apple is selling for $199.
Typing Still Not Solved
Which brings us to the real thing at issue, it’s not just that this Folio is overpriced, it’s that typing is still not solved on the iPad. Fundamentally, typing on a slab of glass should be possible on the slab of glass. Perhaps that means spending more time rethinking the software keyboard (which is mostly great, but eats up a ton of screen) and less time on these keyboard covers.