Apple is rumored to be working on a new version of the Smart Keyboard that includes a trackpad for the first time, which goes even further towards positioning the iPad as a replacement for a Mac.
In the guide below, we cover everything that we know about Apple’s new Smart Keyboard plans, including compatible devices, when it might launch, and more.
Smart Keyboard Trackpad Rumors
Apple has been experimenting with trackpad keyboard options for the iPad Pro for several years, according to a recent report from The Information, and is finally ready to release a new Smart Keyboard that includes a trackpad.
There’s no word on what the specific design will look like, but in the mockups above, we’ve imagined a version that is similar to the current iPad Pro Smart Keyboard but with a space-saving design that moves the keyboard up to accommodate a trackpad at the bottom.
It’s similar in design to the keyboard that Microsoft has designed for the Microsoft Surface as the Surface has a form factor that’s similar to the iPad Pro.
The new Smart Keyboard is expected to be made from materials similar to those in Apple’s current Smart Keyboard Folio design, which includes waterproof keys covered with a polyurethane material.
The Information suggests that Apple has designed prototype keyboards that feature capacitive keys, but it’s not known if this feature is included in the final product.
Other Expected Smart Keyboard Features
A recent rumor from DigiTimes did not mention a trackpad, but did say that Apple is working on an iPad Pro Smart Keyboard with backlit keys and scissor switches, which could also be features that might be included in the trackpad Smart Keyboard that The Information outlined.
Backlighting and scissor switches would likely result in a keyboard that has thicker keys with more travel than the keys on the current Smart Keyboard options.
Scissor switches were used in MacBook keyboards until 2015, when Apple introduced the first keyboard with butterfly switches. Butterfly switches turned out to be a huge disaster, however, due to their penchant for failure when exposed to dust and other small particulates. Apple is facing lawsuits over the butterfly keyboard and has implemented a repair program that covers every Mac equipped with a butterfly keyboard.
With the 16-inch MacBook Pro that was released in October 2019, Apple reverted to using a keyboard with more reliable scissor switches, and the MacBook keyboard lineup is expected to return to scissor keys. Whether Apple will also transition the Smart Keyboard to scissor switches also remains to be seen as we haven’t heard. a second rumor about it.
It sounds like the new Smart Keyboard with Trackpad will be released alongside updated iPad Pro models set to come out during the first half of 2020.
The new iPad Pro models are expected to be the same size as the current iPad Pro models (11 and 12.9-inches), with the only design change being a square-shaped camera cutout. Because the designs will be the same, it’s possible the new Smart Keyboard that has a trackpad will be compatible with 2018 iPad Pro models as well.
This is not confirmed, however, and compatibility will depend on the overall design Apple goes with. If there is a back cover with the keyboard, it could be limited to the new iPad Pro models due to the new camera design.
Smart Keyboard Trackpad Launch Date
Multiple rumors have suggested Apple is planning to launch new iPad Pro models in the first half of 2020, perhaps as early as March. Back in February, one rumor indicated Apple is planning an event for March 31, so that could be the date that we see new products unveiled.
The new Smart Keyboard with a trackpad will likely launch alongside new iPad Pro models.
It is not known if production issues caused by the ongoing coronavirus outbreak will have an impact on Apple’s plans to release the iPad Pro and accompanying Smart Keyboard early in 2020.