Apple is planning to launch a new version of its Smart Keyboard for the iPad Pro that will feature a built-in trackpad, according to a media report. The new iPad keyboard accessory is said to be launched officially later this year -- likely to debut alongside the next-generation iPad Pro. The new report comes a little more than a month after Apple was reported to bring an updated Smart Keyboard with a scissor switch design that could be similar to what we already have on the 16-inch MacBook Pro.
The iPad Pro is already marketed as an alternative to Windows-based laptops. However, by adding the trackpad to the Smart Keyboard Folio, Apple would be able to make the iPad Pro a better substitute for laptops.
The new iPad Pro Smart Keyboard with trackpad will be "made of materials similar" to the current Smart Keyboard options, reports The Information, citing people familiar with the development. This suggests that you would get a fabric design.
Foxconn is said to be one of the "main manufacturers" of the new Smart Keyboard. It could also be the backlit Smart Keyboard that was rumoured last month. Furthermore, it is unclear whether the newly reported keyboard accessory would be the one that was recently rumoured to feature scissor switches.
The exact launch date of the new Smart Keyboard Folio is yet to be revealed. However, the report does mention that the accessory would go out sometime "later this year" -- supposedly alongside the launch of the new iPad Pro.
If we look at some of the recent rumours, the next-generation iPad Pro would come with a triple rear camera setup similar to the one we have on the iPhone 11 Pro models. Apple is also said to have plans to integrate a 3D Time-of-Flight (ToF) sensor on the new iPad Pro model to enable new augmented reality (AR) and camera experiences.
Alongside supporting its native Smart Keyboard Folio, the iPad Pro received the ability to work with various external input devices through iPadOS 13. Accessory makers such as Brydge also recently brought their iPad Pro keyboard cases along with trackpad options.
That being said, Apple would give a tough fight to Microsoft's Surface and Samsung's Galaxy tablets by bringing the keyboard accessory with a trackpad. The market would also get some new third-party accessories with built-in trackpads to provide Apple's experience with some affordability. All this would enhance the use cases of iPad models and make them more productive for professionals.