- Apple is planning to release an iPad keyboard later this year with a built-in trackpad, according to The Information.
- The built-in track pad would bring the iPad one step closer to becoming a true alternative to traditional laptops.
- Apple is looking to unveil the new accessory alongside its new iPad Pro model, which is also expected to launch in 2020, the report said.
- However, the company’s supply chain has been significantly hit by the coronavirus outbreak, raising questions about whether it will have to push back production timelines.
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Apple could be rolling out a new iPad keyboard this year with a built-in trackpad, The Information reported on Thursday, moving the tablet one step closer to becoming an alternative to traditional laptops.
While Apple has previously supported third-party mice on its iPad operating system, iPadOS, the new keyboard would be the first accessory designed by Apple that gives iPad users the functionality of a cursor.
Following the success of Microsoft’s Surface tablets, Apple has sought in recent years to make the iPad a truer competitor to laptops by adding features like iPadOS and switching from Apple’s Lightning port to the more universal USB-C port.
However, as one of Apple’s own executives unwittingly acknowledged, constantly having to reach from a keyboard to a touchscreen is a tiring process, which has kept the iPad from becoming a viable replacement for most laptop users. By building a trackpad directly into a keyboard, Apple appears to be looking to address that problem.
The Information reported that Apple is working with Foxconn to produce the keyboard and hopes to release it alongside a new iteration of the iPad Pro that’s slated to come out later this year.
However, the spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, has significantly hit Apple’s supply chain – which is largely dependent on Foxconn factories in mainland China, where the virus originated. Last week, Apple said it would likely miss its quarterly revenue expectations due to factory and store closures in China that have set back iPhone production and sales, raising questions about the company’s ability to meet other production timelines this year.
Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment on this story.