Apple’s Magic Keyboard with trackpad for iPad may be the first of the company’s iPad keyboards to persuade me to switch from Brydge.

The company’s Smart Keyboard and Smart Keyboard Folio products didn’t impress me. The typing feel wasn’t good, they didn’t balance well on my lap and overall had the feel of something cheap and plasticky. That’s the reason I’ve so far stuck with Brydge keyboards.

But early indications are that the Magic Keyboard may be the one to win me over …

There are a lot of things I love about Brydge keyboards. The aesthetics are very Apple-like, giving the ensemble a very MacBook-like look. It’s always bemused me that Brydge keyboards look like they were made by Apple, while ones made by Apple don’t. Build quality is fantastic. I love the typing action, very much like MacBooks of old. Backlighting is really handy in some situations. And battery-life is great.

But as soon as Apple switched to the slim bezel design for the iPad Pro, that posed a big challenge for Brydge. The clamping mechanism had to be redesigned, and while Brydge did a great job, it doesn’t inspire as much confidence – and sliding the iPad in and out is definitely a lot fiddlier than it used to be.

Brydge keyboard clamp

Apple’s magnetic floating design looks far easier to use.

I use my iPad a lot, and my usage is typically split between keyboard and non-keyboard use. With the keyboard, I use it to write personal blog posts, some work ones, fiction, and longer emails.

Without the keyboard, I use it as an ebook reader, for Netflix, for web-browsing, newspaper apps, and many more things far better suited to a tablet than a laptop or laptop-like device.

With the Brydge setup, it’s just slightly awkward to switch back-and-forth between the two form-factors. With Apple’s Magic Keyboard, it looks like it couldn’t be easier.

The first time I tried a trackpad keyboard with my iPad, I wasn’t convinced.

As for the value of a trackpad on an iPad, I’m honestly not sold. I expected to like it a lot, as it seemed to offer the best of both worlds, but in practice I’ve found it quite clunky. Even with the Accessibility pointer set to its minimum size, it’s quite visually distracting, and in use it never felt like it was any faster or easier than simply using the touchscreen — often the opposite.

But that was using the clunky Accessibility feature. The mainstream trackpad support found in iOS 13.4 will, I think, be a very different experience.

The Magic Keyboard also seems to address two of the things I didn’t like about Apple’s earlier efforts: the limited-travel keyboards, and lack of stability when using it on your lap. Early reviews suggest the Magic Keyboard feel is similar to that of the 16-inch MacBook Pro, which I love, and that it balances well on your lap.

The proof, as ever, will be in the typing. But from early indications, I’m optimistic. Mine arrives tomorrow, and I’ll report back on my first impressions in the next day or two.

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