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Apple reportedly testing iPad keyboard akin to Microsoft's Touch Cover

post #1 of 114
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Apple may be working on a new keyboard accessory for the iPad, one that would mimic the functionality of Microsoft's Touch Cover for its own Surface tablets, according to a new rumor.

Surface


The rumors comes from Jamie Ryan, a former employee of Apple's Developer Relations team, whose post was highlighted by Gizmodo on Monday. Ryan cited "a couple of people at Apple" who apparently indicated that the company is testing a case for the full-size 9.7-inch iPad that would mimic Microsoft's Touch Cover.

"It's not clear whether the process is far enough along to make this Tuesday's event, but they did say a few different styles had been in testing for awhile," he wrote. "This would certainly allow Apple to differentiate the larger iPad from its little brother and market it as the more 'pro' of the 2."

Apple currently sells a standard multipurpose Bluetooth wireless keyboard that connects to the iPad. The company originally sold a keyboard-dock combo for the first-generation iPad, but has not released a new version of that accessory in years.

Microsoft's Touch Cover serves as both a cover for the Surface display, as well as a connected keyboard. Like Apple's Smart Cover for iPad, the accessory attaches to the Surface magnetically.

belkin


On Tuesday Microsoft will release its own Touch Cover 2 alongside the new Surface 2 tablet. The accessory -- which is essentially a flat, thin cloth that can be typed on -- has more than 1,100 sensors which Microsoft says will improve accuracy on the second-generation device. The company also offers a more traditional thin keyboard with press-able keys.

The same day that the new Surface tablets and Touch Cover 2 will launch, Apple is set to hold an event in San Francisco where it is expected to launch its own new iPads: A redesigned fifth-generation model, and a new second-generation iPad mini with Retina display. Prior to Ryan's post, there was no indication that Apple may be planning to unveil a new keyboard accessory for its full-size iPad.

Such a move wouldn't be a shock, however, as keyboard accessories for the iPad, such as Logitech's Keyboard Folios or Belkin's Ultimate Keyboard Case, have proven popular. Apple also recently released a multitude of accessories for the iPhone 5s and 5c, including official cases and docks. That's a change from last year, when Apple did not offer an official case or dock for the iPhone 5.
post #2 of 114
Is that all Apple can do these days is to copy other companies?

/s
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post #3 of 114
I could really go for some nice French Toast this morning. You know, the fancy kind with the really thick bread and the light powdered sugar on top. And maple syrup. The real stuff, not that Aunt Jemimah junk. Oh, and speaking of things that aren't going to happen...

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post #4 of 114
WSJ is probably more accurate than this...
If they have a mac book why have a keyboard for an iPad??
cheaper yes but it runs iOS.
post #5 of 114
Quote:
Originally Posted by BNZ V3 View Post

SO let me get this straight. Apple made something similar, for the iPad, BEFORE Micosoft ever even had a surface, and now somehow it's being insinuated that they are following Microsofts lead? Sounds to me like Microsoft made a keyboard akin to that of the original iPad.

You really can believe everything you read!

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post #6 of 114
Originally Posted by AppleInsider

testing

 

Durhey. Of course they are. They won’t release it, but they’ll test it.

Originally posted by Marvin

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post #7 of 114
Quote:
Originally Posted by island hermit View Post

Is that all Apple can do these days is to copy other companies?

/s

 

apple didn't invent any technology or even any presentation of technology… it improved upon the current offerings, and/or made hard decisions ('de improved'… ala the 1 button mouse, removing all the expansion slots in laptops, not allowing flash or java on the iPhone, removing the mouse from 'tablets', etc.) that in the end, removed the enertia that was holding an entire industry back (is anyone lamenting the loss of flash on iOS?  is Android selling because of Flash, or the ability to integrate a mouse?, are laptops failing to sell for the lack of PCI slots or lack of 8 memory slots?)

 

I do think in the convergence of MacBook Air and iPad, you'll see an integrated (as only Apple Can), cover/keyboard/mouse(?)/secretsauce that makes it uniquely apple.  This year… likely not (never say never), but it will happen.

 

MS needed to 'support everything'  (keyboard, mouse, stylus) as that's their DNA… Apple can pick winners, and I do think a cover that has a great keyboard for those that can type Qwerty (or Dvorak) will flock to for higher speed content creation.

post #8 of 114

The difference here is that Microsoft had to sell a keyboard with their product to make it even close to usable. This is because of the form factor of Windows (typically landscape orientation) coupled with the aspect ratio of the screen. The keyboard would take up 2/3 of the screen. That and traditional Windows programs still require a mouse. Sure you could touch the screen, but using a keyboard and mouse would make the tablet a computer, which Windows was designed for.

 

The iPad can be easily used in any orientation including portrait. The difference is that the apps are made to be portrait. The whole OS seems to work better in that orientation. So no, you don't need a keyboard unless you're, you know, doing a lot of typing.

 

I think if Apple came out with a keyboard, it would be them admitting defeat of some sort.  The iPad ought to stand on it's on (no pun intended) as the only thing you need to use it.

 

The other issue with a keyboard cover is that it completely changes the form factor of the device. Now you have to use it on a table or some sort of flat surface. The iPad was originally designed to break that mindset and even Steve Jobs demoed it while sitting on a couch on-stage. That's the whole point. The Surface isn't a true tablet in the sense that you need a flat surface to use it effectively, whereas the iPad can be used in a standing position, sitting on a couch, etc. There in lies it's transformative power.

 

A keyboard cover would probably sell very well, but I think it would damage Apple's image and vision for the iPad more than it would be worth.

post #9 of 114

I could have sworn I remember reading something here on AI around the time the first original Surface came out with its keypad cover that Apple actually had just been awarded a patent on something very similar by the USPTO....

post #10 of 114
Quote:
Originally Posted by diz_geek View Post
 

I could have sworn I remember reading something here on AI around the time the first original Surface came out with its keypad cover that Apple actually had just been awarded a patent on something very similar by the USPTO....

 

 

Obvious. 

If you look at Apple patent, that is.

post #11 of 114
Quote:
Originally Posted by island hermit View Post

Is that all Apple can do these days is to copy other companies?

/s

The difference being Apple's cover (if this is true) actually has a market out there for them. 1biggrin.gif
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Been using Apple since Apple ][ - Long on AAPL so biased
nMac Pro 6 Core, MacBookPro i7, MacBookPro i5, iPhones 5 and 5s, iPad Air, 2013 Mac mini, SE30, IIFx, Towers; G4 & G3.
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post #12 of 114
Quote:
Originally Posted by TheOtherGeoff View Post
 

 

apple didn't invent any technology or even any presentation of technology… it improved upon the current offerings, and/or made hard decisions ('de improved'… ala the 1 button mouse, removing all the expansion slots in laptops, not allowing flash or java on the iPhone, removing the mouse from 'tablets', etc.) that in the end, removed the enertia that was holding an entire industry back (is anyone lamenting the loss of flash on iOS?  is Android selling because of Flash, or the ability to integrate a mouse?, are laptops failing to sell for the lack of PCI slots or lack of 8 memory slots?)

 

I do think in the convergence of MacBook Air and iPad, you'll see an integrated (as only Apple Can), cover/keyboard/mouse(?)/secretsauce that makes it uniquely apple.  This year… likely not (never say never), but it will happen.

 

MS needed to 'support everything'  (keyboard, mouse, stylus) as that's their DNA… Apple can pick winners, and I do think a cover that has a great keyboard for those that can type Qwerty (or Dvorak) will flock to for higher speed content creation.

 

The foldable cover will become the iPad/Air. 

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post #13 of 114
Quote:
Originally Posted by BNZ V3 View Post
 

 It's not about believing it will actually happen. It's about people/writers talking this BS about Apple is coping X, therefore Apple has no more original ideas. It's about spreading a false image.

People STILL treat Apple paying Xerox to tour their labs and "loosely" being inspired by what they did, to Microsoft as a developer copying the IDE of Apple and nearly mirroring the interface (they switched the sides of where actions  take place, like they switched the drive numbers when copying CP/M).

 

I agree that certain things that are obvious should not be part of copyrights, but the entire PROCESS for how someone interacts with your device which requires real research is copied; like Samsung and Microsoft have done on numerous occasions --well, that's kind of infringing.

 

The press of course, sees no distinctions to anything other than; "what will get the most eyeballs and clicks."

post #14 of 114

I wouldn't want one personally, but I have friends who would. One of them is a writer, he doesn't need a fancy desktop of notebook. 

 

An iPad with a really good smartcover/keyboard integrated would be perfect for him.

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post #15 of 114
Someone's blog is getting a lot of hits today. Well played, sir. And I see the old 'buy on the rumor, sell on the news' is happening again as Apple's stock is up over 2% so far today.
post #16 of 114
Correct, diz_geek. As Rogifan posted at MacRumors, here's a link to Apple's 2011 patent (one of several?) on this:

http://www.patentlyapple.com/patently-apple/2012/08/apple-invents-mind-boggling-next-generation-smart-cover-with-multi-touch-flexible-display-solar-panels-built-in-keyboard.html

That said, I think Apple will leave this kind of useful-but-slightly-awkward option to third parties like Logitech (who also beat Microsoft to market with the idea).
post #17 of 114
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post
 

 

Durhey. Of course they are. They won’t release it, but they’ll test it.

 

Can you prove that? 

post #18 of 114

This would be decent.

 

But it NEEDS TO WORK ON YOUR LAP, unlike the Surface.

post #19 of 114
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

The accessory -- which is essentially a flat, thin cloth that can be typed on -- has more than 1,100 sensors which Microsoft says will improve accuracy on the second-generation device.

So the first gen was totally senseless?
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post #20 of 114
Microsoft licensed some patents by apple for the surface. Apple can do the same. As long as the inventor gets paid and is willing to license I fail to see the problem. For example, if Microsoft didn't license their exchange stuff, iOS wouldn't be where it is in terms of business adoption
post #21 of 114
"Is that all Apple can do these days is to copy other companies"

Microsoft's touch covers are a ripp off of Apple's Smart Cover, they wouldn't exist hasn't Microsoft copied the magnetic design, the dynamic waking up of the device and so on. The magnetic system is exactly the same, who copies who, really?

Moreover an Apple patent describing a Smart Cover with built-in keyboard was published in August 2012 by the US Patent & Trademark Office. Since the surface was released on October 2012, you will have a hard time accusing Apple of copying Microsoft.
post #22 of 114
Quote:
Originally Posted by sog35 View Post
 

This would be decent.

 

But it NEEDS TO WORK ON YOUR LAP, unlike the Surface.

post #23 of 114
post #24 of 114
"A keyboard cover would probably sell very well, but I think it would damage Apple's image and vision for the iPad more than it would be worth."

Don't see why. Lot's of people have bought covers from Logitech and others in order to do heavier typing, writing, etc..

The difference is that the iPad is useful without the keyboard, which can easily be removed when it's not needed. The Surface? Not so much.
post #25 of 114

I remember seeing this back in 2011, and I was blown away!  I looked it up again, and sure enough Apple was awarded the patent for this keyboard design back in 2011!  Check out the Article: http://www.patentlyapple.com/patently-apple/2011/07/apple-invents-new-flat-keyless-keyboard-for-desktops-more.html

post #26 of 114
Well I suppose if Apple copied Microsoft with a left-click, right-click mouse then anything is possible. 1hmm.gif
Edited by pazuzu - 10/21/13 at 11:28am
 
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post #27 of 114

The keyboard covers are pretty nifty if you ask me, so I wouldn't be surprised at all if Apple have something in the lab.  Bit of a distance from the lab to the store though, so it's more likely than not that we'll never see them.

 

On the complete hypothetical that they do release something like this... would they put a lightning connector on the long side of the iPad?  Doubt you'd fit much of a battery or bluetooth connector in a thin keyboard cover, so they'd have to, right?  Would they move the connector, or would they have two, one on the bottom and one on the side?  And how would the iPad stand up?  I can't imagine Apple including a kickstand in the iPad shell, so would the cover include a backplate with some kind of prop?

 

Meh, we'll probably never see it, no point wondering.

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post #28 of 114
Quote:
Originally Posted by BNZ V3 View Post

SO let me get this straight. Apple made something similar, for the iPad, BEFORE Micosoft ever even had a surface, and now somehow it's being insinuated that they are following Microsofts lead? Sounds to me like Microsoft made a keyboard akin to that of the original iPad.
Actually, apple has a patent application in well before Microsoft unveiled surface cover keyboard combo. Which is kind of indicative of the two companies philosophies: Apple will invent a product, patent it, and may never release it or won't release it until they are satisfied it is the right solution. Microsoft on the other hand will invent a product and then push it through, along with three other variations of the same thing, hoping one is the correct solution.
post #29 of 114
Originally Posted by Mac-Daddy View Post

Can you prove that? 

 

 

Sure. Do you see a 2.5” iPhone? A 5” iPhone? A 3.6? 4.2? How about a 7” iPad? 6? 17? Maybe an iMac with a docking port for an iPad. Oh, and then the MacBook Pro with a 3G antenna and SIM card slot.

 

Apple tests hundreds of things they never ship. Never even mention.

Originally posted by Marvin

Even if [the 5.5” iPhone] exists, it doesn’t deserve to.
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post #30 of 114
A keyboard cover is something that Apple have so far left to 3rd party accessory manufacturers, and I have to say I love my logitech keyboard case... I rarely use it at home where the smart cover and on screen keyboard suffice for my needs but for using my ipad at work for taking notes in meetings etc it is so much more accurate and efficient than the on screen keyboard and means I don't have to drag my ailing laptop around the office with me and worry about finding a power socket for it's failing battery.

I'm guessing this news means that Apple now see this as a market worth being in rather than just leaving it to the likes of Logitech and Snugg, etc with their 3rd party offerings.
post #31 of 114
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post
 

 

 

Sure. Do you see a 2.5” iPhone? A 5” iPhone? A 3.6? 4.2? How about a 7” iPad? 6? 17? Maybe an iMac with a docking port for an iPad. Oh, and then the MacBook Pro with a 3G antenna and SIM card slot.

 

Apple tests hundreds of things they never ship. Never even mention.

 

That's irrelevant. With that same logic I could counter it by saying Apple released an iPhone 5S that they tested, an iPad Mini that they tested. 

 

I asked if you can prove if Apple is not releasing a keyboard for their iPad. 

post #32 of 114

 

No surprise really.

post #33 of 114
Quote:
Originally Posted by sabont View Post

I remember seeing this back in 2011, and I was blown away!  I looked it up again, and sure enough Apple was awarded the patent for this keyboard design back in 2011!  Check out the Article: http://www.patentlyapple.com/patently-apple/2011/07/apple-invents-new-flat-keyless-keyboard-for-desktops-more.html

"And boy, have we patented it"!

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post #34 of 114

Sounds good to me. And don't knock the Surface, if it was released a few years earlier it would have gained traction, but not today vs cheap Android tabs.

With the fire sale going for last year's RT model, I got a Surface for work with the cover on Amazon for $300 bucks. For what I use it for, it's great.

post #35 of 114

Mouse. I rest my case.

post #36 of 114
It occurs to me that it should be possible to make an iPad keyboard cover that can take *three* positions, instead of just two. The picture of two docked iPads gave me the idea.

These are the positions I mean - the third could be quite special I think.

1: in use as keyboard, screen standing straight. As in the picture
2: covering the front when iPad not in use.
3: folded against the back, so you basically hold your iPad as if there is no keyboard. The trick would be that the part that holds the screen up when in use, is attached to the screen exactly in the middle. The benefit would be that you can keep the cover attached while still holding it like an iPad without a cover.

A quick glance on the web makes it seem that this has not been done anywhere yet. Most notably, Microsoft's Surface can not do this. As far as I can see, with a Surface you have to lay down the keyboard somewhere in order to use it as a bare tablet computer, which would make it unnecessarily cumbersome to use like a tablet as well as like a laptop.

Am I right? Could this be a neat, patentable little invention making the iPad a lot more useable for everyday work situations than a Surface?

Could this be what "We still have a lot to cover" means?
post #37 of 114
Quote:
Originally Posted by sog35 View Post
 

This would be decent.

 

But it NEEDS TO WORK ON YOUR LAP, unlike the Surface.

Have you actually tried using a Surface on your lap? I have with the touch cover and kickstand, and it works great.

 

I have both an iPad and a Surface RT, and I actually prefer using the Surface on my lap with the kickstand/keyboard over the iPad (particularly when I need to do more than just browse the web or play a game - i.e., when I need to do more typing). It works surprisingly well - way better than using an iPad with your thumbs or trying to balance it on your legs while you type on the screen. 

 

I personally would love to see something similar for the iPad - that is not bluetooth and doesn't require a separate charge - and is super thin like the Surface keyboard. 

post #38 of 114
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hakime View Post

Microsoft's touch covers are a ripp off of Apple's Smart Cover, they wouldn't exist hasn't Microsoft copied the magnetic design, the dynamic waking up of the device and so on. The magnetic system is exactly the same, who copies who, really?

You're right Hakime.  I will say; however, that Microsoft took Apple's Smart Cover and significantly improved on it.  The fact that it's a keyboard is nice- and not bluetooth at that.  But more impressive is that it doesn't need a battery, and the new Smart Cover 2 actually increases the battery life of the surface.

 

Would I buy one?  No- I type on my iMac- and just browse with my iPad.  But I do give Microsoft some credit for creating a cover that is both functional as a keyboard and extends battery life.  That's nice.

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post #39 of 114

Maybe the cover will be able to increase the screen space. Wouldn't that be something.

post #40 of 114

With the surface if you are moving from a table to couch all you do is turn the keyboard around click it back on and fold it behind the tablet. The form factor does not change at all. But go ahead and keep bashing something you have yet to even use.

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