Thoughts on announced 2020 iPad Pro and Magic Keyboard

An absolute deluge of iPad announcements were made today, including:

Not a ton seems to have changed on the iPad Pro: there are a bunch of new camera features (some to support enhanced augmented reality), but the processors only looks slightly improved. As someone who never uses his iPad for photography or AR, there’s not a lot here to tempt me to upgrade.

The bigger changes are around pointer support: iPadOS 13.4 will add native support for mice and trackpads as well as a lovely new Magic Keyboard cover with an integrated trackpad. It’s great to see iPadOS diverging in features from iOS as was promised back when it was split off last year. And yes: the Magic Keyboard will be backwards compatible with 3rd generation iPad Pro models

It’s a solid round of updates, and a testament to the initial design of the 2018 iPad Pro that there aren’t a ton of hardware changes to by made outside of small upgrades. I’m curious to see if the RAM situation has changed at all, but I’m not planning on upgrading this time. I’m absolutely going to grab that new Magic Keyboard cover, and I’m still hopeful WWDC 2020 will bring some way to develop apps on iPadOS.

I'm Joining the Team at DEV

This is my first week as a member of the team at DEV! I’m beyond excited to be joining this team of dedicated, passionate humans.

I’ve been a huge fan of the DEV community since way back when it started at @thepracticaldev on Twitter. As a longtime lurker (and very, very occasional contributor), I’ve learned so much from DEV community members sharing what they’ve learned. It’s time to give back, and I’m excited to get started!

A Little About Me

Hi there! 👋 I’m 42 years old, and live with my husband and daughter in Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin: a tiny town on the shores of Lake Michigan. Our part of the state is in Door County, which is a popular tourist area: it’s a peninsula full of beaches, state parks, and cherry orchards. My family has been vacationing here since I was a baby, and a few years ago we were lucky enough to finally make this place our home. Expect the #DoorCounty hastag on DEV to blow up now that I’m here 😂

I’ve been a software engineer for two decades, working mostly in small startups. Most of my development work over the past few years has been with Ruby: I started using Rails with version 0.9. For the past decade I’ve worked remotely: remote work has allowed me to remain in this industry despite living far from a metro area.

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Goals at DEV

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iPad Pro 12.9 (2018) impressions after three weeks

To say I’m a fan of the iPad would be an understatement. I’ve owned almost every iPad since the original model came out all the way back in 2010. The introduction of the iPad Pro in 2015 (along with the introduction of the Apple Pencil and Keyboard Cover) cemented the iPad as my primary non-work computer. Increasingly it’s becoming my work computer as well, something I’ll write about more in the future.

It should come as no surprise then that I pre-ordered the recently introduced third generated iPad Pro. I’ve been using a 12.9 iPad Pro with LTE for the last few weeks in a variety of environments (at home, on vacation, on a plane, and at a technical conference): here are my rough impressions of the hardware and software so far:

Hardware: iPad

  • The new design is gorgeous and feels great in the hand as well. I’d love to see this retro-future design move across the line to the iPhones next year.
  • It’s not really an edge-to-edge: there’s still a definite bezel (in which the Face ID sensors and front facing cameras are hidden).
  • Oleophobic coating hasn’t changed: the screen is still a terrible fingerprint magnet.
  • USB-C is a good change overall: the spec allows for faster charging times and re-use of dongles from my MacBook Pro. Of course if you don’t already own a raft of USB-C dongles you’ll have to build up a kit.
  • Camera bump is comically large due to the reduced thickness of the iPad. The Smart Keyboard Folio helps hide the bump, but if you use your iPad without a case it sits a bit unevenly on a flat surface.

Hardware: Smart Keyboard Folio

  • Feels much more stable in the lap due to single keyboard/cover piece that doesn’t have a seam like the previous model’s keyboard cover.
  • The downside of the single front cover piece is the loss of the “media configuration” of the old keyboard cover. The previous model could be folded around behind the iPad to enable it to be propped up at an almost vertical angle.
  • Having two keyboard angles is great: the more vertical setting is very close to the “media” configuration I mentioned, but the entire keyboard sticks out now in this viewing angle. Standing the iPad up on a shallow shelf isn’t possible anymore without the keyboard hanging over the shelf.
  • Feeling keys on the cover when it’s folded back feels like playing an accordion (or at least what I imagine it must feel like). It’s not a pleasant feeling, but suffices as the world’s most expensive fidget toy in a pinch.
  • Use of even more magnets in the folio means it’s still super-glued to metal cafe tables.
  • Magnets on viewing angle channels are just a bit too strong: folding up case takes some serious effort.

Hardware: Apple Pencil

  • It’s much easier to grip the new Pencil versus the old design due to flat edge and matte finish
  • Double tap action on the side of the Pencil is taking some getting used to. Due to the way I hold a pencil (pretty incorrectly) tapping the side of the Pencil while I’m holding it is a bit tricky. With practice I think it’ll still be faster than manually tapping an eraser icon in my note taking app (shout out to Notability)
  • Magnetic charging is awesome, but the Pencil doesn’t quite stay on when in a bag. I end up removing it before travel as a result.
  • Battery life seems reduced: I’ve definitely seen the battery dip down below 50% with extended usage. The ease of recharging the pencil by putting it into a storage position on the iPad reduces the real world impact of this however.


  • Face ID feels more convenient than on an iPhone since I almost always have the iPad in front of me at a right angle.
  • Face ID feels faster overall, and the angle it detects my face is seems much wider and farther than Face ID on the iPhone X/Xs/Xr.
  • iOS 13 announcements at WWDC 2019 will really make or break the future of the iPad Pro: now that the hardware is set, the device feels like it needs software features to take advantage of it. Where are Apple’s pro level apps (like Logic and Final Cut Pro) for this device?