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New accessory for the Apple iPad Pro takes it closer to laptop territory

New accessory for the Apple iPad Pro takes it closer to laptop territory
There is no question that Apple wants you to think of the iPad Pro as a replacement for your laptop. Last year, Apple launched iPadOS, giving the tablet its own operating system. And a person familiar with Apple's thinking has told The Information that the company is going to release a keyboard accessory this year with a trackpad. The keyboard is being prepared for mass production say sources, with contract manufacturer Foxconn expected to assemble the device. The latest version of the iPad Pro should be introduced on March 31st and will feature the same triple camera setup that you have seen on the iPhone 11 Pro series. In addition to a 12MP Wide camera and a 12MP Ultra-Wide-angle camera, there will be a 12MP telephoto camera and a Time of Flight (ToF) depth sensor.

A QWERTY keyboard with a trackpad takes the iPad Pro closer inside "laptop" territory

The iPad Pro (2020) will be powered by the A13X chipset, an enhanced version of the SoC that powers the 2019 iPhone models. Apple could have a version sporting an 11-inch display and another carrying a 12.9-inch screen. Both models will be equipped with 4GB of memory and 64GB to as much as 1TB of storage. As for the keyboard and trackpad in the works, one person in the know says that Apple has been testing different versions of this combination for years; some of the prototypes being tested feature capacitive keys that use sensors to make the user feel as though he is tapping on a real QWERTY keyboard. Another person familiar with the keyboard says that contract manufacturer Foxconn is just about ready to start assembly of it, and the accessory will be made available to consumers at the same time that Apple releases the next iPad Pro models.

Third-party versions of an iPad Pro QWERTY with a trackpad have been released including one made by OGadget (which was part of a Kickstarter campaign). Apple iPad accessory producer Brydge said last month that it will offer a similar QWERTY keyboard later this year. As with any type of device expected to be manufactured out of China these days, there is a real risk of a delay due to the spread of the coronavirus. Foxconn has yet to return to full strength on its assembly lines. The new QWERTY keyboard, according to one of the sources, will be made using some of the same materials employed on Apple's Smart Keyboard Folio for the iPad Pro. The latter makes use of a lot of fabric which means you should expect liberal use of fabric on the new accessories.

Whether positioning the iPad Pro as a laptop replacement cannibalizes some of Apple's MacBook business, Apple CEO Tim Cook doesn't care. Seven years ago, when asked about the possibility of the iPad eating into Mac sales, the executive stated, "Our base philosophy is to never fear cannibalization. If we do, somebody else will just cannibalize it, and so we never fear it."

Not only will the trackpad on the new QWERTY keyboard help nudge the iPad Pro closer to being a laptop replacement, iPadOS added support for a mouse. This is done through the accessibility menu. Perhaps the only shortcoming would be the use of the iOS-based iPadOS. There are probably quite a few users out there who just can't conceive of iOS (or iPadOS) as a legitimate operating system for a computer. The Files app on iPadOS is a much-needed touch since it allows iPad Pro users to access files in formats that iPadOS can't read natively.

Now that Apple is really looking to blur the line between the iPad Pro and the MacBook, would you really consider giving up the latter for the former?

Related phones

iPad Pro 12.9-inch (2020)


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