Magic Keyboard

Keyboard Brightness Control on iPadOS

Felipe Esposito, 9to5Mac:

9to5Mac has found references in iPadOS 13.5.5 beta code that points to new keyboard shortcuts that replace some of the function keys.

We’ve found evidence in code that suggests the existence of new keyboard shortcuts to change the brightness of the iPad screen or even the backlight of the keyboard.

Shortly after updating to iPadOS 13.5.5 Beta, I noticed the brightness keys on the function row of the standalone Magic Keyboard I currently use with my iPad Pro no longer function, so perhaps this lends credence to 9to5Mac’s findings.

Some functionalities get nuked only to make a return later during beta periods, so I’m I hoping this Magic Keyboard change is temporary as Apple implements the shortcuts to adjust the screen, and possibly keyboard brightness for the Magic Keyboard for iPad. The media keys on the standalone Magic Keyboard are operating as usual, though.

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.

iPadOS Cursor Support with Magic Trackpad 2

Magic Keyboard and Magic Trackpad 2
Magic Keyboard and Magic Trackpad 2

I have used a Bluetooth mouse as a pointing device since iPadOS added compatibility through AssistiveTouch as part of the Accessibility features. I recently got the Magic Keyboard to complete the pairing for my desktop mode external pointing and typing input peripherals, and they both worked amazingly well. Using an adaptive accessory via AssistiveTouch to replicate touch was a taster to the possibilities of full mouse cursor support on iPadOS. iPad users like myself longed for full native cursor support and the interest kept growing over time. Apple took notice.

Steven Aquino:

It’s my understanding the development of the iPadOS 13 AssistiveTouch pointer feature was “handed off” internally, from the Accessibility group to the broader iOS team for more expansive integration. This is good—if anything, it shows Apple has noticed the AssisitiveTouch pointer feature has gained traction for “mainstream” users. To wit, iPad aficionados saw that you can use a mouse with an iPad and they pounced on it.

Many have tried imagining the direction and approach of how Apple will implement full native cursor support on the iPad. Most imagined outcomes limited to borrowing cues from macOS, because it is the platform that uses a traditional pointer, and also based on the belief of the two platforms expected convergence.

Apple has done a tremendous job rethinking cursor support with new enhanced ways of interacting with navigational and other UI elements along with new rich visual feedbacks that respects the touch-first environment of iPadOS. The implementation befits the current paradigms of a touch interface, which helps maintain familiarity. These new behaviours have breathed new life and much-needed excitement on iPadOS.

The new extensive cursor support redesigned specifically for the iPad is one of the most consciously designed feature additions the iPad has ever seen.

Magic Trackpad 2

During my initial trial of the new cursor support using the Logitech mouse, Immediately I knew I needed a compatible peripheral built to more precisely accommodate the native functions without the need for AssistiveTouch. For that, there’s currently no better than the Magic Trackpad 2.

Using gestures on Magic Trackpad 2 to interact with elements on iPadOS brought me close to the touch interactions I’m familiar with when using the iPad without external peripherals. This alone makes the Magic Trackpad 2 the best companion for the iPad in maintaining the interactive familiarity with the OS when in desktop mode. Whether or not I’ll get the upcoming Magic Keyboard for the iPad Pro will depend on my in-store trial when it is released. For now, I am a Magic Trackpad convert happily joining the many iPad users it is delighting.

The compatibility of external peripherals such as keyboards, mouse and trackpads extends the iPads flexibility and gives more options to use the iPad in full desktop mode. iPad Pro stand, Magic Keyboard and Magic Trackpad 2 is now my default desk setup going forward. And I love it.

On the Rumoured iPad Full Cursor Support

The recent spate of rumours about upcoming Apple hardware and software features published by 9to5Mac have sparked and brought back a few conversations, especially regarding the iPad. One such rumour is the addition of a trackpad to the Smart Keyboard and rich system-wide mouse cursor support on the iPad.

Like clockwork, and as expected, echoes of the iPad losing its identity by extensively enhancing support to the Smart Keyboard and now full mouse cursor input can be heard all over Apple communities.

On Apple Letting Users Switch Default Apps on iOS

Mark Gurman, Bloomberg:

The technology giant is discussing whether to let users choose third-party web browser and mail applications as their default options on Apple’s mobile devices, replacing the company’s Safari browser and Mail app, according to people familiar with the matter. Since launching the App Store in 2008, Apple hasn’t allowed users to replace pre-installed apps such as these with third-party services. That has made it difficult for some developers to compete, and has raised concerns from lawmakers probing potential antitrust violations in the technology industry.

I remember following with keen interest the antitrust case against Microsoft for restricting users and manufacturers the ability to choose browsers other than Internet Explorer as default. I’ve been expecting the same antitrust case brought against Apple regarding restricting competing third-party developer apps to be made default by users on the iOS platform.

I cannot see this having any severely debilitating adverse effect in the long run if Apple allows users to switch to third-party apps as their default. If anything, this should spur competition which will see Apple not rest on its laurels and do more to keep their apps on a seriously competitive level as the company continues to push on its Services front.

We have already started to see many of the default Apple apps receive significant enhancements from the barebones state they once were — Apps like Mail, Safari with desktop-class capabilities on iPadOS, Reminders and Maps, to name a few.

I regularly switch to using all default apps during iOS Beta periods. Over the years as I’ve watched some of the default apps evolve with ‘power feature’ capabilities I relied on third-party apps for, it’s prompted me to switch to using some of the native default apps on a more permanent basis.

Some Apps and Services I’ve switched away from in favour of default Apple alternatives:

  • Evernote (Notes)
  • Spotify (Apple Music)
  • 1Password (iCloud Keychain)
  • Todo/Task Management apps (Reminders)
  • Podcatchers (Apple Podcast)
  • Dropbox (iCloud Drive)
  • IFTTT (Shortcuts)
  • Google Maps (Apple Maps)

Continued enhancements with feature parity to the default native apps will continue to elevate their prominence and stake a claim as worthy options without the need for Apple to force them as the default on the OS.

The iPads Ten Year Evolution

iPad Pro Desk Setup
My Current iPad Pro Desk Setup

The iPads evolution in terms of hardware has delighted the masses with Apple’s obsession of thinner and lighter spearheading that development. Throughout its different size classes over the years, the iPad never failed to provide portability comforts, giving merit towards its hardware design.

When it comes to software, many consumers hoping to journey into the Post-PC generation expecting to see the same level of PC desktop software capabilities on the iPad down the road started to echo strong, unified sentiments regarding the stagnant nature of the iPad software. The call for a dedicated OS for the iPad grew stronger, and Apple finally made it happened.

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.