Looks like Apple's already planning changes for the iPad Pro's Magic Keyboard

Apple iPad Pro 2020 with Keyboard Folio
Apple iPad Pro 2020 with Keyboard Folio (Image credit: Future)

One of the key selling points of the new iPad Pro 2020 range was in fact a separate product you could buy for it - the Magic Keyboard - which turned the tablet experience into one more akin to using a laptop.

Unlike the familiar Smart Keyboard Folio (pictured) which was simply a case with a keyboard baked in, the Magic Keyboard had letters to type but also a trackpad like a standard laptop, as well as a stand for the iPad Pro so you could position it at various angles. In other words it was designed to transform how you used your iPad.

However it looks like Apple might be planning a change to future iPad Pro Magic Keyboards. According to a patent found by PatentlyApple, the company is considering creating such a peripheral without a trackpad, instead opting for touch-sensitive strips to either side of the keyboard.

Going through changes

As well as ditching the trackpad for something arguably a little harder to use (although the real easiest way of navigating a tablet is just with your finger on the screen), this patent shows a new Magic Keyboard as coming with a microphone and potentially even vibration sensors.

These vibration sensors would be able to identify gestures done on the surface the iPad was placed on, so in theory you could swipe across the coffee shop table or work desk you were using instead of the screen to navigate the iPad. These sensors would also sense the force you use to press certain keyboard buttons, which could change the input (for example, a forceful space bar push could create a paragraph break).

The addition of vibration sensors and a microphone would be useful inclusions for people who want to use their iPad Pro Magic Keyboards for productivity reasons, although it's unclear if people would welcome the loss of the trackpad for navigation.

It's worth pointing out that while a patent certainly doesn't guarantee such a new product is coming at any point soon, or even ever, the existence of it in the first place suggests Apple is at least considering making the changes.

If this is a real upcoming product it's unlikely we'll see it any time soon though, and it would instead likely be unveiled alongside the 2021 iPad Pro models or beyond.

Tom Bedford

Tom Bedford was deputy phones editor on TechRadar until late 2022, having worked his way up from staff writer. Though he specialized in phones and tablets, he also took on other tech like electric scooters, smartwatches, fitness, mobile gaming and more. He is based in London, UK and now works for the entertainment site What To Watch.

He graduated in American Literature and Creative Writing from the University of East Anglia. Prior to working on TechRadar, he freelanced in tech, gaming and entertainment, and also spent many years working as a mixologist. He also currently works in film as a screenwriter, director and producer.