Apple: make a keyboard cover for the iPad

Apple: make a keyboard cover for the iPad

Summary: The iPad enjoys a gigantic third-party accessory ecosystem but that has failed to produce what could be the biggest selling accessory for the tablet. An Apple-designed thin smart cover for the iPad with integrated keyboard would be huge.

Ultrathin side (300x225)
Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard Cover

Microsoft excited a lot of folks with its Surface tablets. The sleek design wrapped around Windows 8 is a big draw, but the keyboard cover seals the deal for many. A similar keyboard cover for the iPad designed by Apple with its characteristic flair would be the biggest selling accessory of all time.

The world is currently waiting for the rumored iPad Mini to be unveiled as I am, but this cover for the bigger iPad would be huge. I predict Apple would sell more of these covers than competitors sell tablets.

I am not an accessory designer nor do I play one on the Internet, but I am confident that Apple could pull this off masterfully. I picture a thin smart cover for the iPad with a sliver of a keyboard similar to the Apple wireless keyboard. The cover would completely protect the iPad front and back, and add a wireless keyboard to the package.

See also: Top keyboard/cases for the iPad Summer 2012

This keyboard would charge with the iPad when plugged in, and would run for weeks if not plugged in for some reason. The cover would support the iPad at a proper angle while used with the keyboard, and also be comfortable used as a pure tablet with the keyboard flipped behind the iPad.

This cover would add little weight and bulk to the svelte iPad, and introduce owners to the utility provided by having a proper keyboard. There are a number of third-party keyboards for the iPad, but none pull off the design and function that Apple can do.

For added benefit Apple could add a port to the cover for connecting a Thunderbolt display to the iPad at the desk. This isn't essential but would open up a world of utility for iPad owners.

I believe Apple would sell millions of these keyboard covers to iPad owners, and would do so as soon as they go on sale. It would quickly become the best-selling accessory of all time for any device. It would also steal some thunder from the Surface tablets with those fancy keyboards.

Update: It seems Apple may be thinking the same thing with this recent patent application.

Topics: iPad, Apple, Microsoft, Tablets

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  • Innovation!

    Chyea OMG! This has never been done before! Innovation I say, Innovation!
    Ignore these products, Apple designed it first!
    • Apple snapple

      Surface! SuRfACe! SURFACE!
    • ASUS, ASUS, ASUS...

      has the best implementation of the dockable keyboard bar none. In fact, they came out with it on their original Transformer about 1 1/2 years ago!

      But Kendrick know this all too well. The fact that he doesn't mention it in the article suggests he's just trolling for comments buy attempting to be provocative.

      The one main problem with any iPad keyboard is the iPad and iOS. The iOS CANNOT reproduce a standard cursor on the screen. It's incompatible with the standard functions of using a keyboard along with trackpad or mouse for data entry of any kind.

      Conversely, the Android OS has been compatible with using a standard mouse for years. The Android OS can reproduce a cursor on the screen and can therefore use trackpads, mice, and game controllers either wired or wirelessly.

      When you combine the hardware configuration of the Transformer hybrid tablets with their keyboard docks and Android, you get the best tablet user experience combination.
    • it is not apple so...

      it is crap like everything that is not apple... not seen that thing in person but surely it will feel like crapy...

      this is the thing.... when you have lost of money like... having a ferrari gt in the front of your house...when you sleep with more than three different women in a week..... nothing satisfy .....

      except apple...... the kings of the universe.....!!

      Long live apple..!!
    • Hendrick... do not pay attention

      to all those bastards that talk about apple.... bunch of mediocre... poor people.... you guys... work harder to live a decent life...
    • Get a grip

      Read through the article and point out where he ever said anything about innovation or that Apple would be the first to offer something like that. To the contrary he started out by pointing to the Surface and how it's a great feature. You moronic small minded haters always make the comments about how fanboys are always claiming Apple is the most innovative and always comes up with everything first but in reality 90% of the time those comments come up they are by hater accusing Apple fans of saying it. Next time you feel the need to post something, sit back, take a deep breath then try to use your brain to come up with a logical post.
  • the PC is dead....

    I thought anyway. Maybe Microsoft is right after all, the PC isn't dead, it just changed format a bit.
  • Those third party keyboards are missing one thing for Kendrick.

    The Apple logo
  • ZAGG?

    I have a ZAGG keyboard for my iPad - it's pretty much exactly what you describe. Apple is letting other manufacturers have a piece of the pie.
    • Exactly

      It's also called strengthening their ecosystem. Apple usually leaves the door open for accessory partners to come in and fill the gaps. And that gap is not even wide, it's a small fraction of users that feel they need keyboards, USB etc on their iPad.
    • Not completely

      Apple still charges all third-party people for the required licensing. I've read it averages $5. So just like the Apple logo, third-party accessories makers get a piece of pie that's got a bite missing.

      I'm not attempting to imply that this doesn't happen across the board with other device makers and their 3rd party accessories- it does.

      By the Surface already showing off its keyboard/cover, Apple would look awfully bad if they copied their idea. The 3rd party accessories market is already full of copycats and people rarely, if ever, care.
      • Sanity check

        Let's just first see these magical Surface things from Microsoft. Then discuss if Apple should do the same.

        it's not obvious that the Surface or at least it's integrated keyboard will be any useful.
        If not useful, why should Apple even bother?
        • Not for iPad

          IPad doesn't have a build in stand, so a cover like the surface keyboard would be almost useless.
    • Been using a ZaggFolio with my iPad 3 since March...

      ...and it's terrific. In addition to touch much like my bluetooth Apple keyboard and MacBook Pro, when set up, the footprint is the same as the iPad laid flat. Works perfectly on the smallest center-seat tray table or lap. I had to laugh when I saw the Surface kickstand and keyboard case - obviously designed by nerds who don't fly much, and approved by Ballmer, who flies a private jet. Unlike the ZaggFolio keyboard/case, it's a) a real keyboard, b) it works everywhere, and c) it's tough, and protects the iPad.

      With LogMeIn Ignition I operate and get files off my MacBook Pro and Thinkpad T61p at home (even from my hotel room in Istanbul), use Dropbox as my hard drive in the cloud, and with a group of great apps like DocsToGo, Keynote, Pages, CloudOn -- and Photogene for image editing -- I do do almost all the "content creation" I could do with my MacBook.

      I love my "iPad Air."

      • Sorry... I meant

        Unlike the Surface keyboard/kickstand...
  • Apple: make a keyboard cover for the iPad

    The next ZDNet headline: Is Apple becoming more like Microsoft?
    Loverock Davidson-
  • I don't think so

    If this is such a good idea there must be dozens of companies rushing to "sell millions of these keyboard covers." However, my guess is that it would be very hard and expensive to make a satisfying tactile keyboard experience in a thin, flexible, robust smart cover format. The required charging circuitry and wire would make it even more expensive and clumsy. So you would end up with an unsatisfying, expensive solution that isn't really better than typing on the screen.

    Anything larger, heavier and more expensive than the current smart cover wouldn't be much different from the keyboards already on the market.

    Personally, I bought a keyboard for my first iPad and never used it after the first week. Typing on the screen really isn't so bad for the typical tablet use cases.
  • keyboard cover

    after market item made by several vendors

    logitech makes the best one
  • A lot of good keyboards already exist.

    There are already numerous keyboard cases for the iPad and from what I've seen, they're not exactly flying off the shelves. Most of us using iPads every day don't really miss the extra bulk/weight of a real keyboard. Personally, I'd rather see a black leather version of the current smart case. There is a black leather smart cover, but not a smart case. Having broken the screens on a couple of iPads, I'd welcome the extra protection.
    • Actually, Bill, they are "flying off shelves"

      Zagg has a hard time keeping them in stock. Try one, even if you send it back. They have a good return policy.