Episode 65: Technology Bytes. . .IPad Accessories

This is Technology Bytes, episode 65 for June 2nd, 2024.

Technology Bytes is a microcast where I share brief bytes on interesting technology.

My name is Joel.

Enjoy, and here we go.

This week, I’m talking about the iPad Pro M4 accessories.

So last week, I told you about what I purchased and how I liked it.

Today, I’m going to talk about the accessories that I purchased, and there are three of them.

And I’ll just walk through what I think of them, how I use them, and just general thoughts about them both.

Oh, about them triple.

Well, all three of them.

So I bought three things, the Smartfolio case, the Magic Keyboard, and the Pencil Pro.

And I’m going to cover them in that order.

So the Smartfolio case is what is on my iPad 90% of the time or something like that.

It’s what I use at work to carry on the manufacturing floor.

And it is on my iPad unless I’m using the Magic Keyboard.

So it was kind of nice because I think with my last iPad Pro, color options were minimal.

And this year, they have a denim, I think is what they call it.

It’s a lighter kind of blue.

So that’s what I got.

So a little different.

Been carrying a black one on my previous iPad Pro.

So I really like a difference in color.

It performs basically the same, but they have added some, I guess, additional magnets, either in the case or in the iPad Pro.

I’m not 100% sure which.

But when you fold it back to put it in the landscape mode, so it’s standing on its own, the first position is very vertical.

It doesn’t lean back hardly at all.

And that’s very different than the Smartfolio case I had on my last iPad Pro.

It definitely had a lean back angle to it.

But then because of the new design, I can just slide the cover up an inch or less at a time.

And with every slide, the iPad leans back just a little bit further.

So you have quite a few options, quite a few angles, depending on how you’re using it and where it’s sitting.

When I’m at my desk at work, it feels very natural to have it almost vertical because my iMac screen is vertical.

My MacBook Air screen is vertical.

So having my iPad vertical when I’m using all three displays with universal control seems very normal.

But when I am at my desk and just using the iPad or at the kitchen table or dining room table, I’m trying to read a little bit off it or whatever, I find having it leaning back a little bit easier on my posture and on my eyesight to the screen.

So, again, very similar to the previous Smartfolio, but I really like the changes and the angles that come along with it.

So the next accessory I want to talk about is the Magic Keyboard.

The first thing is it’s very expensive.

That hasn’t really changed.

I don’t know that the price changed from the last one.

But if you’re not going to use it with a keyboard, it seems like an expense that you might not need to have.

Color options are minimal.

You can get white or black, and I chose the black one.

I just like it better with the Space Gray iPad, so it is the color that I choose.

The additional things on the Magic Keyboard for the 13-inch iPad Pro is it’s aluminum instead of that cloth surface.

And it is very nice, and the trackpad is different and clickable.

Oh, not clickable.

It’s like the haptic feedback.

So it feels like you’re pressing it, but it really isn’t doing anything except feeding back through and make it feel like you’re pressing it.

Eh, not explaining that very well.

But it is very nice.

It just feels a little more solid.

I think it does make the whole unit a little heavier, but it feels more MacBook Air-ish, if that’s what you’re going for.

But I like having the keyboard when I need it.

The other big thing that they talk about is the function keys, and that is something that’s new, hasn’t been there before.

And maybe the biggest thing is the Escape key, because while it is function keys, it’s not like the F keys that are on a computer.

They’re just the screen brightness, the app library, search, Siri, do not disturb, fast forward, those kind of things.

So volume controls, so function keys, but not like you might think of them on a computer.

But overall, I like it.

The trackpad is very responsive.

The size is good.

Obviously, it’s not as big as it is on the MacBook Air or the external that I have on my iMac.

But the keyboard is nice.

I like typing on it.

I do like to use it when I’m doing a function that it requires.

A couple issues in an app the other day, it just didn’t respond.

It stopped typing.

I actually had to go out of the app and then come back in, and it worked.

So I don’t know if it’s an app problem or a magic keyboard problem.

I’ll keep using it, obviously, to make sure I know and need to take it back if it’s problematic, I guess.

So the other issue I noticed is if I want to use it as the universal control for my computers at my desk, it has no inertia when using scrolling on the iMac or on the MacBook Air.

If I use the trackpad on the MacBook Air or the external trackpad on my iMac and control my iPad, when I push up or down with my fingers, it scrolls based on how hard I do that.

On the magic keyboard, there is none of that when controlling computers.

I think it needs to be fixed.

But other than that, it is an accessory that I like to have.

Not always on my system because I like to carry my iPad and write on it with a pencil.

And that’s what I’ll cover next.

So Apple also released a new Apple Pencil, the Apple Pencil Pro.

And I bought it.

I had the whatever Apple Pencil came with the iPad Pro that I purchased.

Not the USB-C one, but the magnetic one that charges.

And it was good.

But this one has some functions that I haven’t had before, like hover.

And I’ll cover that in a minute.

But I think it’s a good, I guess, upgrade.

A couple of things that they’ve added.

So basically, they’ve got three functions where previously it was just one.

You had a double tap to change from whatever tool you were using, pencil, pen, whatever, to the eraser.

And so that was the basics of all you had as a function.

And so now they’ve added a squeeze function.

And that allows you to do whatever the app developer decides it does.

In Apple’s apps, it brings up the toolbar, I guess, and lets you choose the writing utensil.

So that’s pretty cool.

And then it also has barrel roll, which allows you to roll the tip and change the angle if you’re using a tool that allows that.

So far, I haven’t used it much.

I use, there’s like a calligraphy pen or something in Apple’s tool set.

So if you choose that, you can rotate and see how you’re starting, where a thin line or the wide part of the tip and those kind of things.

And then the really nice thing that’s just a subtle touch is the haptic feedback on the pencil.

It is nice.

It lets you know when a tool has changed.

It lets you know when you’re in an environment where you’re choosing a tool.

And right now, until I get used to it, the squeeze function seems to happen when I don’t want it to because I’ve never had that.

So I’ve been able to hold the pencil basically as tight as I wanted to.

So overall, good changes.

I’ve used all of them.

I really like it.

It makes the functions of the pencil a little more easy to get to.

So a couple other things.

One is the hover function.

And that basically lets you see what your Apple Pencil is going to do before you touch the screen.

So if you’re using it to control an app, for instance, you’ll see it highlight the button before you actually touch the button.

If you’re writing, you’ll see the outline, I guess, of the tool before you actually touch the screen and start writing or coloring or painting or highlighting, whatever it is that you’re doing.

So a really neat function that I haven’t used before.

It’s been available, but not on the iPad Pro that I had before I bought the M4.

The other thing that it does is has the shadow of the pencil on the screen that is generated.

It’s not shadow from the light over your shoulder or around you.

It’s basically a fake shadow.

It shows you the tool, what angle you’re holding it, and then where the tip is in relationship to how you’re holding the pencil.

And it is pretty neat.

When I first saw it, it kind of surprised me.

I’d read a little bit about it, didn’t know how I would like it.

But I really like it.

When I’m in the eraser mode, the shadow on the screen actually looks like the eraser side of a pencil.

So you get a little bit of a wider view of the pencil.

And then it gives you the point that the eraser is going to touch the screen.

So that’s pretty neat.

And then when you’re using other tips like pins versus a pencil versus a highlighter, you can then use the barrel roll.

And before you touch the screen, you can see the width of the tip before you start the action.

Whether it’s a drawing action in a calligraphy pen or a highlighting action, it’s pretty neat.

And I really, really like it.

Other than that, well, that’s a lot of changes.

And I’m really happy with the Apple Pencil Pro.

Is it worth $129?

I don’t know.

But I like it.

I don’t think I would have bought the M4 iPad Pro without getting the Apple Pencil Pro.

I’m not an artist, but even for me and the little things that I do, the functions that they’ve added make a difference in how I interact with the Pencil Pro and the iPad Pro.

So overall, the accessories are really nice.

I know they’re expensive, but they do help me use my iPad Pro to its fuller extent.

And I’m happy with my purchase.

That is all I have for today.

If you have comments or suggestions, you can send them to technologybytes at merrickfamily.com.

Thank you for listening to the Technology Bytes microcast.

As always, I look forward to the next time we are together taking another bite of technology.

Thank you for watching.

Joel Mearig @technologybytes