Keyboards for iPads are nothing new. They’ve been around for as long as Apple has been slinging its tablets, but they’re mostly from third-party manufacturers. Seeing revenues go to other companies moved Apple to create a Smart Keyboard for the iPad Pros, providing a lightweight keyboard case with rubbery keys. Smart Keyboards were good covers, but the lack of a trackpad or backlit keys made people check out cheaper alternatives. Enter the Magic Keyboard.
The keyboard is over-engineered and somewhat heavy. This counterbalances the weight of the iPad Air and also gives users good typing support when it is placed on the desk or on their lap.
The keys have decent travel, are responsive, and generally silent. Typing on the Magic Keyboard, while cramped, works great. I also like that you get some word hints as you type, so you can just click on words on the screen to add them to your text.
Apple has also improved the mouse cursor on the iPad Air thanks to the Magic Keyboard, so it is easy to select, copy, and paste text at will. No other iPad keyboard can give you these features.
Do note, however, that the keyboard’s design is ideal for typing on a table—not on a lap. I like to type in bed or on a couch and the Magic Keyboard does not fit this use case. It also lacks physical controls for things like volume, brightness, or for playing and pausing media; you still need to use the iPad’s screen for those.
The Magic Keyboard isn’t a very good iPad Air case. It’s heavy and does not protect any of the corners of the tablet. If you drop the iPad Air and Magic Keyboard, there’s a good chance both devices will get damaged.
Meanwhile, the magnet that connects iPads to the Magic Keyboard is very strong and secure—so much so that you can lift the iPad Air and the keyboard won’t fall off.
The Magic Keyboard offers USB-C charging so you can charge and power your iPad Air or 11-inch iPad Pro. Its proper (albeit cramped) keyboard with scissor mechanism is backlit and is better than the majority of MacBooks pre-2019.
The Magic Keyboard delivers on the promise of making iPads feel more like notebooks by giving users a proper typing experience and a trackpad. While it’s not a perfect accessory, Apple will likely continue to innovate this peripheral while shaving off weight and mass to make it a more seamless keyboard for its tablets.