Hands on: Brydge's new Pro+ keyboard trackpad firmware for iPad

Posted:
in iPad edited February 17
Accessory maker Brydge has announced a new firmware upgrade for its Pro+ keyboard/trackpad that fixes nagging issues that has plagued iPad Pro users since launch. We go hands on to see how much of a difference it makes.

Using the trackpad on the Brydge Pro+
Using the trackpad on the Brydge Pro+


The new firmware is launching now as a beta for existing users and, in our experience, the update provides a giant, positive difference in how the Pro+ trackpad interacts with iPadOS.

"We knew from day one that our firmware would be a key part in the continuous improvement of our iPad keyboards. This update is a true game-changer and we couldn't be more excited to deliver a user experience to both existing and future customers that is on par with the best." said Nick Smith, Co-CEO & Founder of Brydge

Long overdue

Apple released iPadOS 13.4 in early 2019 that brought long-awaited mouse and trackpad support to iPad. Shortly thereafter, it released the Magic Keyboard to take advantage of the mainstreamed features, once only available through Accessibility options. At the time, third-party devices lacked the precision and responsiveness as Apple's.





Any of Apple's peripherals -- the Magic Keyboard, Magic Trackpad 2, and Magic Mouse 2 -- were all smooth when used with iPad, but third-party ones were not so much.

One of the most notable ones was Brydge. The company introduced the Brydge Pro+ keyboard trackpad combo for iPad Pro, and while the hardware was spot on, the jumpy cursor made it frustrating to use at times.

Upgrading our Brydge Pro+
Upgrading our Brydge Pro+


This pivotal firmware update, called Brydge Pro+ 2.0, fundamentally improves the user experience. The firmware is currently in public beta and users can sign up to participate on Brydge's website. As the beta page clearly states, users need to be running iPadOS 14.5, which is currently in public beta testing. Users can join Apple's beta program from its website.

Taking a closer look

We will be doing more testing with our Brydge Pro+ keyboard and trackpad, but after a few weeks of use, it already provides a vastly better experience. Nearly gone is the jumping cursor that would bound across the screen, and in its place is a smooth, precise cursor as reliable as the Magic Keyboard itself.

Multitouch on the Brydge Pro+
Multitouch on the Brydge Pro+


It has full multitouch support, including four-finger swipes to move between open apps, a three or four-finger push forward to open the multitasking interface, and a long push forward to go back to the Home Screen. Anything you could do on Apple's trackpads will work here on Brydge's. It feels smooth and natural and what it should have been from the start.

A huge issue that we ran into all the time with the previous firmware was over-scrolling. As you'd scroll to the end of a webpage, the interface would continue to scroll past the end of the page. It would keep going filling your screen with blank white space before bouncing back. We would rather reach up and touch the display and avoid the annoyance.

This has entirely been resolved with this new firmware.

The large trackpad on the Brydge Pro+
The large trackpad on the Brydge Pro+


It isn't perfect yet, though, with the most notable issue being slight stutters while the cursor moves. These minor stutters are more pronounced within iPadOS as the cursor will naturally highlight on-screen elements like buttons and other touch points.

That jumping motion combined with even a little bit of stuttering can be jarring. But, when you disable the highlighting of on-screen elements, it makes it feel like less of an issue.

This is just the first beta for Brydge, under the second beta of iOS 14.5, so we wouldn't be surprised if this improved further by one or both parties by the time it gets fully released.

Brydge Pro+
Brydge Pro+ and iPad Pro


The Brydge trackpad is slightly larger than Apple's Magic Keyboard, making it even easier to use for multi-touch gestures -- not to mention the lower price.

After almost a year of sub-par performance, we couldn't be more delighted by how much Brydge Pro+ has improved after this update. This shows how dedicated Brydge is to ensuring its product was as capable as possible.

Grab your Brydge Pro+

Brydge Pro+ has also seen a special price drop. The $229 12.9-inch model has dropped to $169 and the $199 11-inch has dropped to $159. You can pick up either size direct from Brydge.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 2
    There are two fundamental problems with the Brydge Pro, neither of which is related to firmware. First is the rubber/metal clamps that hold, nee squeeze, the iPad in place. The metal pieces will eventually bend and loosen over time, causing you to have to squeeze them in to re-establish the grip on the iPad. In my case, the rubber outer shell to the metal tore, exposing the metal piece, coming in direct contact with the iPad glass surface.

    The second issue is the requirement that you can ONLY use Brydge screen protectors on the iPad. It was NOT previously on the original box or included in the printed warranty but Brydge has changed that now on their new packaging. My guess is they saw a lot of damaged iPads. If you have an existing iPad screen protector, don't bother as Brydge states it can cause the rubber to grip incorrectly, tearing the rubber or causing issue with the metal clamps to hold the iPad. 

    I'm speaking from experience as this happened to me. Despite scouring my original box and materials, I couldn't find any warning about my existing screen protector voiding a warranty. I only found out after my rubber grips tore and it cracked my screen. 

    In fairness, Brydge did replace the original keyboard but what a huge misfire for what, I imagine, would be an issue for the large majority who have owned their iPad for any length of time. The metal "squeeze" tips is simply a bad design, putting your iPad at risk of damage, which of course is what the Brydge Keyboard and cover are supposed to prevent.
  • Reply 2 of 2
    chrispop said:
    There are two fundamental problems with the Brydge Pro, neither of which is related to firmware. First is the rubber/metal clamps that hold, nee squeeze, the iPad in place. The metal pieces will eventually bend and loosen over time, causing you to have to squeeze them in to re-establish the grip on the iPad. In my case, the rubber outer shell to the metal tore, exposing the metal piece, coming in direct contact with the iPad glass surface.

    The second issue is the requirement that you can ONLY use Brydge screen protectors on the iPad. It was NOT previously on the original box or included in the printed warranty but Brydge has changed that now on their new packaging. My guess is they saw a lot of damaged iPads. If you have an existing iPad screen protector, don't bother as Brydge states it can cause the rubber to grip incorrectly, tearing the rubber or causing issue with the metal clamps to hold the iPad. 

    I'm speaking from experience as this happened to me. Despite scouring my original box and materials, I couldn't find any warning about my existing screen protector voiding a warranty. I only found out after my rubber grips tore and it cracked my screen. 

    In fairness, Brydge did replace the original keyboard but what a huge misfire for what, I imagine, would be an issue for the large majority who have owned their iPad for any length of time. The metal "squeeze" tips is simply a bad design, putting your iPad at risk of damage, which of course is what the Brydge Keyboard and cover are supposed to prevent.
    Thank you for this. I was actually contemplating on getting one, but after reading your post, I'll do a little more research before I decide.
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