If you're looking to buy the best iPad, there's a very good chance that you've also been considering buying a Magic Keyboard. This iPad Pro accessory, pictured above, holds the tablet high and gives you a keyboard as well as a trackpad, providing lots of extra functionality for your tablet.
The newest patent is a biggie, as it shows two really useful upgrades that a new Magic Keyboard could bring – perhaps this will launch alongside the anticipated iPad Pro (2022).
The first of these upgrades regards the Apple Pencil. Usually, you have to store this on the top of the tablet, balancing it on a magnetic strip on the tablet's frame – here, it's easy to knock off, especially if you put your slate in a bag.
The new Magic Keyboard patent shows a hinge (between the keyboard, and the raised part that connects to the iPad) that's hollow, allowing for an Apple Pencil to actually slot inside; meaning you could hide it away and make sure it was held in a safe spot.
This presumably wouldn't actually charge the stylus, but it's good that Apple knows about our Apple Pencil annoyances.
The other upgrade shown in the patent is about the suspension angles of the tablet. On current Magic Keyboards, you can move the tablet between a range of angles, but they're startlingly limited – you can't be too high above, or on a level with, the tablet if you want to see the screen.
The new Magic Keyboard seems to accommodate a much wider viewing range, though – an image shows the iPad facing much higher than it can with the current Magic Keyboard, so we're hoping this makes it to market.
Not only that, but a different sketch shows that you can use the new Magic Keyboard as a stand to move the iPad even higher, in what's called 'Clipboard Mode' – though doing it this way does mean you can't actually access the keyboard itself.
Analysis: a Magic Keyboard fix that won't be perfect
Apple hasn't truly cracked the iPad keyboard accessory yet.
The Magic Keyboard has limited suspension angles, as we've said – it also has an overly sensitive trackpad that's easy to hit with your wrist when you're typing, and actually pressing the keys doesn't really feel satisfying either.
However, its predecessor (which is still on sale), the Keyboard Folio, isn't perfect either. It's more fragile, so can get damaged in your bag easily, and again only supports two different angles (though they're further apart than the Magic Keyboard's two extremes).
Both keyboards have strengths and weaknesses, and we'd love to see Apple combine the best parts of both to create one super-slate accessory. That doesn't seem to be what Apple's doing here, though – it's mainly adding some extra fixes to the Magic Keyboard – but these are still useful additions.
Perhaps, if the iPad Pro launches alongside this new accessory, it'll find a way onto our list of the best tablets.
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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.