According to a new report from The Information today, Apple is planning to release an iPad keyboard with a built-in trackpad this year. The report says that Apple is currently “preparing the keyboard for mass production.”
Previous reports had suggested that Apple was planning a new version of the Smart Keyboard, but The Information takes things a step farther. The report explains:
Apple is planning to release an iPad keyboard accessory later this year that will include a built-in trackpad, the latest step in its effort to position the tablet device as an alternative to laptop computers, according to a person familiar with the matter. The company will likely release the accessory alongside the next version of the iPad Pro expected later this year, the person added.
In terms of design, today’s report says the new iPad Pro Smart Keyboard with trackpad is expected to be “made of materials similar” to the current Smart Keyboards. This implies it will feature a fabric design, likely still with fabric-covered keys. Foxconn will be one of the “main manufacturers” of the new accessory, the report says.
Digitimes reported last month that Apple is developing a backlit Smart Keyboard for iPad Pro, also slated for release this year. That report didn’t mention a built-in trackpad, nor does today’s report corroborate the backlighting claim.
iPadOS 13 added support for external input devices as an Accessibility feature. Third-party accessory makers, such as Brydge, have also announced their own iPad Pro keyboard cases with trackpads. This report indicates that Apple is planning to take iPadOS trackpad support to the next level, though.