Six Colors
Six Colors

by Jason Snell & Dan Moren

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By Jason Snell for Macworld

How will Apple redesign the iPad Magic Keyboard?

“I would never want to be in the iPhone case business,” a friend of mine said the other day, and I couldn’t help but agree. Designing accessories for Apple products means you’re in fierce competition for largely low margins, you have to gamble on early design leaks to get started with your own creations, and you are utterly at the whim of Apple’s own design decisions.

There’s one seller of Apple accessories who doesn’t have to worry so much, though: Apple itself. Apple has the home-field advantage of knowing all the details of its forthcoming products. It’s got convenient upsell capabilities in Apple stores and the ability to sell Apple-branded products at much larger profit margins. But then there’s perhaps the biggest advantage of all: Apple can control the very product design itself as a way to enable the accessories it wants to build.

No product embodies Apple’s own synergy between hardware and accessories like the iPad. Stripped down to its basics, it’s just a tablet. But it can be outfitted with Smart Folios, Magic Keyboards, and Apple Pencils, often with connectivity provided by ports never seen on any other Apple product. And it looks like we’re about to see another round of iPad accessory innovation.

This week, Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman reported that a new iPad Pro is due next year. And, he says, it’ll come with a “revamped” Magic Keyboard that “makes the iPad Pro look even more like a laptop than the current setup and adds a larger trackpad.”

Today’s iPad Pro uses a design specifically built to enable interesting accessories: a strong array of magnets and a Smart Connector (three metal dots that transfer power and data), all on the back of the device. The Smart Connector was previously on the side, but clearly, Apple decided that placement along the back would be a better fit with the future accessories it had in mind.

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