Magic Keyboard

Why No Function Keys?

Matt Birchler, BirchTree:

Well, because there simply isn’t room…with this design, at least. See, even with what’s there now, my fingers get dangerously close to hitting the keyboard when it’s leaned back as far as it will go. Another row would technically be accessible, but it would be somewhere between uncomfortable and unreachable.

Matt has a good point regarding possible hindrances an extra row of keys on the Magic Keyboard for iPad Pro would present. I don’t think they will be unreachable, just inconvenient and uncomfortable given the limited space between the base of the iPad and the keyboard depending on which one of the near-infinite angles of the iPad you have it on.

My initial thought was to make the Function keys half the size of the standard keys, perhaps, the same size as the inverted-T arrow keys. That still wouldn’t take away the issue at hand let alone other unseen possible technical challenges that may lie underneath. Lowering the keyboard set wouldn’t do any good for what is already a ‘tiny’ trackpad, either. Compromises had to be made.

Whatever the case, the Magic Keyboard is here, and it is what is it is. Like many ‘first’ Apple products, iterations will happen over time. That full no-compromise keyboard layout will find its way onto the iPad Pro, someday.

iPad Pro Magic Keyboard

Reservations about the Magic Keyboard for iPad Pro

Looking at the product shots the moment after Apple announced the Magic Keyboard for iPad Pro, I instantaneously had reservations that needed addressing before I splash out for one.

Firstly, and more importantly, my use case: The question was not will it fit in my current workflow but rather, how much will I use this new iPad accessory. The Magic Keyboard for iPad with its cantilever design somehow had me envisaging desktop as the more practical use case, which doesn’t bode well with my current configuration needs that require a certain level of elevation.

As I mentioned in my iPad Pro desk setup entry:

Using the iPad with the Smart Keyboard attached in a desktop environment peering down on the screen for prolonged periods started to cause a little bit of pain at the back of my neck and shoulders (I’m 6’4″). I decided to nip things in the bud and reconfigure my setup into a more ergonomic structure to avoid pain in the long run.

My use of the Smart Keyboard Folio reduced significantly in favour of an iPad stand with an external keyboard and trackpad. I currently have the iPad stand sitting on the iPad Pro box to elevate it even higher while I continue to shop around for a decent desk monitor riser. The Magic Keyboard for iPad Pro, although slightly taller in profile when compared to the iPad Pro in a Smart Keyboard Folio, still won’t meet the height adjustments my current setup affords me. This shortcoming rules out the use of it on my desk on a prolonged basis, which begs the question whether there is any immediate need upgrading to the Magic Keyboard for iPad given I currently spend 95% of my iPad use on a desk, which is my preferred environment.

Secondly, the cantilever design with the iPad overhang close to the keyboard: How will it affect typing when reaching out for the top row keys? Was this an oversight or did Apple expect that everyone will be able to manoeuvre their fingers in and out of that gap like the nimble hummingbird in the Magic Keyboard for iPad Pro Ad1, without consistently hitting the bottom of the iPad? Of course, this will be subject to the size of one’s fingers and how you type. It is why I’m hoping it won’t be an issue for me, and if it is, I hope I will be able to adapt over time.

Thirdly, the lack of Function keys on the Magic Keyboard for iPad; I have grown attached to and depend on using the brightness, volume and media keys on the external Magic Keyboard — designed for Mac but compatible with the iPad Pro. There’s always some form of media playing in the background when I’m at my desk. Being able to easily alter the state of these functions without having to reach for the iPad adds to the convenience of my setup. And it is a convenience I do not wish to lose. I do not want to be in a situation where I have to do this!

Granted, none of the above reservations is a deal-breaker for me, and I’ll even admit to developing a certain level of admiration for it even before getting my hands on one — Apple products in these modern times tend to have this effect. Right now though, as of writing this, I don’t need the Magic Keyboard for iPad Pro, but I want it, and I’m sure I’ll be picking it up at some point down the line. Glad to see people that need it now and got their hands on one enjoying the delights it presents.


  1. My favourite Apple product Ad. Ever!

The 11-inch iPad Pro

Josh Ginter, The Sweet Setup:

Apple’s 11-inch iPad Pro is, quite simply, a joy to pick up and hold. It’s wonderfully light and the edges are rounded off and soft, making for a great couch and lounge chair device. This, and the narrower aspect ratio, combine to make the 11-inch iPad Pro the ultimate device for watching movies, reading books, and browsing the web — all the tasks Mr. Jobs proudly pounded into our shimmering eyeballs back in 2010.

Somehow, I think this 11-inch iPad Pro is the exact device he envisioned all along.

My dedicated use for the iPad Pro has always been for desktop use, primarily, hence why I have forever gone for the 12.9-inch model since the iPad Pro debuted in 2015. I have, however, over the years, pottered around with the idea of switching to the smaller 11-inch iPad Pro which offers more ergonomic flexibility for tasks — like Josh described — that doesn’t involve the constant use of an external keyboard so that I can utilise the iPad more in those environments. But somehow, using the 12.9-inch iPad Pro in a traditional desk setup environment instils a discipline of concentration and energy in me.

Using the iPad this way deviates from the intended inception of the iPad as a touch-first device, I know! It is why I still keep a folio case around for moments I want to battle the lackadaisical feeling of lounging with the bigger, heftier iPad — which also helps maintain the familiarity of the software keyboard and use of touch to interact with the iPad.

Using the folio case to prop up the iPad makes it easier to deal with the cumbersome size and reduces the awkward nature of wielding the 12.9-inch iPad. Still, it sure doesn’t come close to the comfortability the 11-inch iPad Pro offers when casually using the iPad.

iPad Pro desk setup

The 2020 iPad Pro

Mike Rockwell, Initial Charge:

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.

I’m still using my 2018 12.9-inch iPad Pro and won’t be upgrading to the 2020 model, but this sums up my exact sentiments towards the iPad Pro, even at near two years old.

iPad Pro desk setup

My iPad Pro Desk Setup – What’s a Computer?

iPad Pro desk setup

The last time I owned and used a traditional desktop computer daily in my home setup was sometime after 2010 when the first-gen iPad was released. With the iPad, I had a device in my setup that can handle all the basic tasks I used on a traditional computer.

Over the years, the iPad slowly started to perform more of my daily computing tasks with the growth of workarounds to bypass the limitations of the OS. However, shoehorning my way around the iPad started to become a chore. I didn’t have the nerdy energy in me at the time to keep up with it, which threatened the existence and joy of using the iPad as a primary computer in a desktop environment. Eventually, my dependence on the iPad dropped significantly. I longed for a powerful and capable OS that enabled me to do more. An iPad-specific OS that helps enhance my productivity and be more efficient in handling a multitude of apps at the same time on the same screen.

iPadOS reigniting my love for the iPad and enticing me to buy the 2018 iPad Pro seven months into its life-cycle was just one part of the story. It also made me go out and buy an office desk and chair to return to the desktop environment I previously had at home.

iPad Pro

iPadOS Reignites My Love for iPad

 Apple 12.9” iPad Pro running iPadOS 13 Beta.
Apple 12.9” iPad Pro running iPadOS 13 Beta.

In January 2010, Steve Jobs revealed to the world the iPad, the device Apple believed to be the answer to fill the gap between the smartphone and a laptop. Having converted to using an iPhone two years earlier in 2008, I was definitely in that camp; the need for real screen estate portable touch device that allows me to perform the majority of basic tasks I used a laptop and desktop computer for at the time, such as; web browsing, email, reading and media consumption etc. Nothing trivial.