Apple Smart Keyboard

Contributor(s): Alyssa Wood

Apple Smart Keyboard is a wireless, detachable accessory for the iPad Pro that allows users to input text without using the touchscreen interface.

The Apple Smart Keyboard is 4 mm thick and comes with the standard 64 keys of letters, characters and commands. The keyboard connects to the iPad Pro tablet with the Smart Connector, a sensor along the edge of both devices that also serves as the charger. Users can attach the keyboard to the iPad Pro to interact with it more like a PC, or remove the keyboard and interact with the tablet solely through its touchscreen. When the keyboard is attached, users can fold the keyboard onto the screen to function as a cover.

Three layers make up the Apple Smart Keyboard: polyurethane on top, conductive fabric in the middle that enables the battery charging and communication between keyboard and tablet, and a microfiber lining for screen protection. The keyboard is finished with a water-resistant and stain-proof coating.

The smart keyboard integrates with iOS 9 to support keyboard shortcuts that perform quick actions such as switching between apps. Some iOS 9 apps also come with custom shortcuts.

As of this writing, Apple Smart Keyboard costs $169 and is sold separately from the iPad Pro. Other manufacturers such as Logitech have released third-party keyboard options with Smart Connector support for the iPad Pro as well.

This was last updated in November 2015

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For me, it’s pretty much the same argument as to using a Microsoft Surface Pro. I’m not yet at the point where I want one device that functions like multiple devices. I want my laptop to be a laptop, and my tablet to be a tablet. Each device has different uses, and I don’t think the technology is quite there yet for the one device fits all needs world.
Why or why wouldn't you want to use a keyboard with the iPad Pro?
I always want to use a keyboard. They are so much more efficient than a touch screen, for any task beyond doing a little bit of web browsing. 
My world is one driven by the speed with which I can put content on the screen or into the ether. A keyboard makes this much easier - in my experience - as I can type 80-100 wpm instead of hunting and pecking at 20-40 wpm. I love having an external keyboard for any device that can support it. In fact, during a CES a few years back, I leveraged an external keyboard and an iPhone to file reports from the conference. No laptop needed, just bluetooth connectivity and a little stand so I could see what I was typing on the iPhone screen.
Generally speaking, a physical keyboard is faster and easier for me to type on compared to trying to do the same actions on the touch screen itself. The fact that the on screen keyboard chews up a significant portion of the screen real estate while active is also a negative, and a reason for me to consider an external keyboard. The deterrents to the keyboard itself are the current price and if I would find a reduced form factor to be frustrating in my efforts (though chance are I would adapt to it over time). In general, I appreciate tools taht let me do my work and effectively get out of my way. At this time, an on screen keyboard is more of a hindrance compared to a dedicated keyboard, but when I am on the move and only need to use a keyboard for brief interactions, then the on screen keyboard wins.
I can type a lot faster on an external keyboard. Also, in situations where my hands are schmutzy it's preferable not to get gunk all over the screen. 
I prefer a keyboard but would not want to carry one just for that reason. Yes, the screen keyboards lack the feel but if I'm traveling the mobile device is enough.
Does the keyboard require any extra resources like storing data on the tablet? Was the keyboard tested for temperature while charging? This would be a concern since this is a small device and can generate a lot of heat. Was it tested for extremes?