Apple's Smart Keyboard and Magic Keyboard lack function keys. But according to 9to5Mac, Apple is planning on adding shortcuts to the iPad and iPad Pro that would act as function keys. This was discovered in code found in the recently released iPadOS 13.5.5 beta. With the shortcut code, settings for the screen's brightness, the keyboard's backlight, and controls for playing media could quickly be accessed and adjusted. 9to5Mac hasn't been able to activate the codes yet, however.
The dedicated iPad operating system, iPadOS, already includes UI that will show the changes in the brightness level. But to see this, the tablet must be connected to a keyboard that is equipped with function keys. Besides the lack of function keys, the Smart Keyboard and the Magic Keyboard do not have an Escape key. The latter comes in handy when you're watching a video and want to exit out of full-screen mode. Currently, modifier keys, like Caps Lock, Control, or Command, can be remapped to create an escape key. While regular computer keyboards contain a row of function keys, Apple has eliminated them on its iPad QWERTYs to save space`
While the code was discovered in the beta for iPadOS 13.5.5, 9to5Mac says that Apple might not release the shortcuts until iPadOS 14 drops in September. At this point, it is unclear whether the shortcuts will be customizable.
Crystal ball wielding TF International analyst Ming-Chi Kuo expects Apple to release a new basic iPad during the second half of this year with a 10.8-inch display. This would be half an inch larger than the display on the current 10.2-inch iPad. Kuo says that next year we will see an 8.5-inch iPad Mini and an 11-inch iPad Air; the latter is said to resemble the 11-inch iPad Pro which means that it could feature thin bezels and Face ID. There is the possibility that Apple will decide to go with an in-display version of Touch ID instead of its facial recognition system. The tablet could be the first non iPad Pro model to sport a USB-C port instead of one for the proprietary Lightning cable.
Apple will reveal the changes coming to iPadOS 14 on June 22nd during the online presentation of its WWDC Developer Conference. Last month, Apple announced that it will virtually host the annual event because of the coronavirus outbreak. Sometime this month, Apple will post the WWDC schedule on its Developer app and website.