The next Apple iPad Pro, which might launch as soon as March, could boast an optional accessory which could fix a problem that has dogged the iPad throughout its 10-year history.
The iPad Pro is almost, but not quite, a laptop. What comes next may change that.
According to a report in The Information, Apple is planning to release an iPad keyboard accessory. Well, that’s nothing new, you might say.
True, but this one would be different because it would build in a trackpad, allowing a whole new way to operate the iPad that makes it much more like a laptop than ever before.
Things have certainly been heading in that direction. The current Smart Keyboard folio on the iPad Pro offers a comfortable, highly usable typing experience, lacking only the backlit keys that would make it ideal (though that may be coming, too!).
But even with the keyboard, a mouse or pointing interface is still missing. Well, technically, you can find ways around that via the Accessibility options on the iPad. But it’s complicated and Apple certainly isn’t encouraging you to see it as the primary way to be using its tablet.
Already quite like a laptop – a trackpad in the keyboard accessory could be transformational.
It’s also clear that it had for some time been pitching the iPad Pro as a genuine alternative to a laptop, and an iPad is the only way to get close to a touchscreen Apple laptop, since no Mac has ever had a touch-sensitive screen.
The report says the launch will happen sometime later this year. There were rumors of an iPad launch in March, which I still think may happen, but things are uncertain because of the Covid-19 Coronavirus shutting factories, for instance.
Actually, if it’s later in the year, there’s another benefit that means it makes much more sense. Which is that iPad OS 14 is near-certain to arrive in the Fall alongside iOS 14 for iPhone, so it would seem logical that the iPad software could be properly upgraded to make this kind of interface really deeply integrated.
Once there’s a trackpad available as an option, then can full mouse support be far behind?
The iPad Pro is very powerful, on a par with advanced laptops, as Apple regularly points out. This method of introducing a trackpad could be a great additional feature to burnish the iPad’s credentials as a real alternative to a Microsoft Surface Pro, other two-in-one hybrid or a dedicated laptop.
More on Forbes: