Apple will finally release an iPad keyboard with a built-in trackpad later this year, an accessory that will make the tablet a true laptop alternative.
The detachable keyboard is reportedly going into mass production at Foxconn and will ship alongside the 2020 iPad Pro, reports The Information (opens in new tab), citing people familiar with the matter. Unsurprisingly, an Apple spokesperson wouldn't confirm the report.
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We've been asking Apple to add a touchpad to its underwhelming detachable keyboards for years now. It has been the missing piece to making the iPad a true laptop alternative and an apples-to-apples (forgive the pun) competitor to Microsoft's Surface Pro 7. If you want to use a touchpad on your iPad today, you need to pre-order the Brydge Pro+ keyboard, a $230 accessory.
Apple has slowly crept its way toward adding cursor functionality to the iPad. When iPadOS launched, a mouse cursor of sorts was found hiding in the accessibility settings as an extention of AsssitiveTouch. But the big circle that appears when you enable the feature is impercise. It's a real shame because the A12X chip inside the current iPad Pro can already compete with the performance of most laptops.
iPadOS was built for touch, not a cursor, so it will be interesting to see if Apple makes any major interface changes to support a more traditional mouse-like input. Apps may also need to be optimized for the new accessory.
iPad Pro 2020 new features
A keyboard with a built-in touchpad won't be the only new feature coming to the 2020 iPad Pro.
The first report claims the upcoming iPad Pro will have a 5-nanometer A14 chip (we suspect the A14X) and millimeter wave (mmWave) support with sub-6Ghz connectivity.
And if you're the type of person who takes pics with their tablet, then you'll be pleased with rumors claiming the iPad Pro will have a multi-camera setup.
Between those changes and a keyboard with a built-in touchpad, the 2020 iPad Pro is shaping up to be a major improvement over its predecessors. Now all we can do is hope for the unlikely -- that Apple has a change of heart and includes the keyboard with your pricey purchase.