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!