Former Apple developer relations employee Jamie Ryan says that Apple has been mocking up Microsoft Surface-style typable keyboards for iPads, and that the company could be releasing them tomorrow at its “Apple Event” in San Francisco.
The company did title the event “more to cover.”
“I’ve been speaking to a couple of people at Apple for the last few days and they have told me that a case for the full size iPad that mimics Microsoft’s touch cover has been prototyped,” Ryan posted recent. “It’s not clear whether the process is far enough along to make this Tuesdays event but they did say a few different styles had been in testing for a while. This would certainly allow Apple to differentiate the larger iPad from its little brother and market it as the more ’pro’ of the 2.”
The idea makes a lot of sense. Apple already has several patents for keyboard-style covers:
As all Apple rumors, this is a long shot because, as Ryan acknowledges, Apple prototypes a thousand products for every one it produces. And following Microsoft’s lead is not something that Apple has a lot of appetite for. But, Apple has focused extensively on the enterprise this year, with CFO Peter Oppenheimer crowing at Apple’s earnings in July that “iPads are 88 percent of all tablet activations in enterprise,” and that “iPhone is the smartphone of choice for business.”
A type-on cover would make the iPad more of a laptop replacement out of the box than it currently is, which would help the device be more of a content creation than content consumption tool.
Of course, many keyboard options already exist for iPad — I myself have a Zagg keyboard case. But inevitably, they add weight, bulk, and additional battery consumption concerns, while a cover could potentially have minimum bulk and, likely, minimal additional cost too.
“Apple realises the market for the large iPad is mainly professionals looking to work on it whereas the iPad mini is mainly content consumption,” Ryan says.