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The iPad with a 2020 Magic Keyboard is not Macbook

The new Magic Keyboard for the iPad Pro hasn’t magically transformed iPad to MacBook. Instead, it has made the things the iPad already does somewhat nicer. The iPad with iPadOS remains the most enjoyable computer we use right up to the point where we need to do something complicated, at which point it becomes something else entirely.

On the other hand, sometimes that obstinacy means it’s hard to know if the iPad will allow you to do something advanced in the first place. There are rules against apps running certain types of code, for example, which makes it a challenging device for app developers to use. Was WYSIWYG coding one of those kinds of issues, or was it just something Apple hadn’t gotten around to adding yet such as USB drive support?

Apple’s dropping new iPads with whiz-bang Lidar features and shiny new cases and all we want is an iPad with a proper shell where we can run homebrew, docker, python, cron jobs and the like.

Perhaps the answer might be both? It turns out that there is a Siri Shortcut — the system for automating certain tasks on the iPad — that lets you grab source code. From there, it was a matter of teaching ourself some Siri Shortcut methods then a lot of trial and error. We think hiding what is a core browser function on every other platform inside the iPad’s macro app is loopy, but at least it worked.

The Magic Keyboard is incredibly well-made. The trackpad has made manipulating text ten times easier than before, which has, in turn, made the iPad Pro much more useful to the user in situations where we would want to use it as a laptop.

But we never expected the Magic Keyboard to magically make some of the limitations we have experience on the iPad go away, and neither should you. Sometimes new hardware, even if it has new features like a trackpad, doesn’t unlock new features. Instead, it can just make your experience a little less annoying.

We think Apple could have made different design choices that might have helped the Magic Keyboard do more than making use the iPad as a laptop “functional”. They probably make a better keyboard dock than a mobile keyboard case.

For $439 (11 inches), the user should get much more than a keyboard dock. Given the considerable interest in the magic keyboard, it is likely that another company will offer something more versatile at a lower price point. The lack of third-party iPad Pro accessories that take advantage of the Smart Connector remains one of the weird mysteries in consumer tech.

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