Apple iPads had physical keyboards three and a half years before Microsoft’s Surface tablet debut

“The iPad Mini 4 was only mentioned in passing in the announcement but it effectively gives you the iPad Air 2 with an A8 SoC in a mini formfactor,” Joshua Ho writes for AnandTech. “This means that the display is now close to 100% sRGB and there is the iPad Air 2 anti-reflective coating on top. I’m not sure if the iPad Mini 4 makes the jump to an IGZO display for better battery life, but the iPad Mini 4 is now the closest it’s ever been to the iPad Air sibling.”

“The iPad Pro received an enormous amount of event time, and given just how big of a departure it is from previous iPads, I can understand why. The move from 9.7 to 12.9 inches really does make the iPad Pro far better for content consumption and productivity purposes,” Ho writes. “Outside of simple size and weight, the display of the iPad Pro was genuinely impressive in person.”

“If you were to purely look at the feature set as a check box to be filled, it probably goes without saying that this iPad Pro sounds an awful lot like the Surface Pro. To some extent the comparison is fair, but in others it really fails to capture the differentiation that Apple has created here in terms of user experience and product design. The keyboard is probably the first, and most common accessory that will be used,” Ho writes. “I was surprised by how good the keyboard feels in practice as the keys feel almost identical to the MacBook. Obviously, this means that there’s basically zero travel available in the keys, but after spending enough time writing long paragraphs on a smartphone with no haptic feedback or sound feedback I really don’t see the value in long keystroke travel or similar things for text input when it comes to mobile devices. I was able to type at 40-60 words per minute almost immediately without a lot of effort, and I suspect that with practice it would be well within reason to reach 90-100 words per minute with this keyboard.”

Much more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Microsoft Surface is dead. As usual.

We’ve had third-party Bluetooth keyboards for our iPads for since May 2010. Three years and five months before the debut of the first Microsoft Surface tablet. Searching Amazon’s electronic section for “iPad keyboard” currently yields 78,723 results.

As per Apple finally doing an iPad keyboard, this is because, unlike Microsoft, Apple understands the value of saying “no” and not throwing everything plus the kitchen sink into jack-of-all-trades-master-of-none devices, not doing things until they are necessary, and doing things right.

Apple’s iPad Pro is to Microsoft Surface as an iPad Pro is to a toaster-fridge.

You can converge a toaster and a refrigerator, but those aren’t going to be pleasing to the user… We are not going to that party, but others might from a defensive point of view. – Apple CEO Tim Cook, April 2014

People think focus means saying yes to the thing you’ve got to focus on. But that’s not what it means at all. It means saying no to the hundred other good ideas that there are. You have to pick carefully. I’m actually as proud of the things we haven’t done as the things I have done. Innovation is saying no to 1,000 things. — Steve Jobs

The comic below is funny not for its truth, but for its prescience (note the year):

"Surface Tension" by Joel Watson

Wired: Hands-on with Apple’s great, big iPad Pro and Apple Pencil – September 9, 2015
Apple introduces 12.9-inch iPad Pro, Apple Pencil and Smart Keyboard – September 9, 2015
Cool new iPad case with integrated Bluetooth keyboard further threatens netbooks – August 25, 2010
ClamCase announces all-in-one keyboard, case and stand for Apple iPad (with video) – May 6, 2010


  1. Here we go. No, Microsoft didn’t copy Apple, Apple copied them.

    1. Microsoft’s keyboard is part of a thin cover. Now Apple is offering a keyboard part of a thin cover.
    2. Microsoft has a fabric-based keyboard cover. Now Apple does too.
    3. Microsoft’s keyboard cover DOES NOT USE BLUETOOTH. Now, unlike any other keyboard in the past, Apple has a keyboard that isn’t bluetooth. It connects effectively exactly the same way as Microsoft’s.

    Apple copied Microsoft. Period. But they didn’t do a very good job. The Surface keyboard also has backlit keys whereas Apple’s does not. The Surface keyboard also is larger with palmrests. Apple’s isn’t because the cover has to have material to act as a kickstand. Amd finally, ths Surface keyboard as a trackpad thanks to software.

    Finally, the multi-angle kickstand on the Surface allows users to use the device with the screen at multiple angles.

    Anyone who says that Microsoft copied Apple here or that they copied iPad third party accessory makers is delusional. The Surface keyboard was and still is completley innovative and unmatched.

    1. Your little theory has one major issue:

      Apple iPad debut: April 3, 2010
      Microsoft Surface debut: October 26, 2012

      It took Apple to show Microsoft how to do tablets and it then took Microsoft over 2 1/2 years to copy Apple badly.

    2. Wow,

      You made your point! You can rest now. In no way Microsoft copied the iPad, they just got it out after the iPad… Wrong they did make a tablet first too!

      You should send a resume to WS. Perhaps you could get a job at making things clear about who cut&paste…

      BTW I love zealots. On any side!

      1. Apple has a patent for a cover with a keyboard.

        Don’t believe Google and you wil find it. They had it way before Microsoft made one.

        As for the MS tablet it doesn’t have a touch interface and and I wonder where did MS hit the idea of their Surface from?

    3. 1. Surface is not dead, not in the least, so let’s cut the BS. It’s selling not half bad and especially with the new Windows 10. I’ve done checks at some new Microsoft stores and the staff says sales of the Surface with Windows 10 are excellent that many are selling. Also, MS’s last quarterly: “…revenue from Microsoft’s own Surface line grew 117 percent to $888 million on the backs of strong sales of the Surface Pro 3 and newer Surface 3.”
      2. To sit here and say that the Surface is dead and that somehow MS copied the iPad is absurd. Now, Apple throws a keyboard cover that’s covered in fabric and a stylus at the iPad. This is a complete rip off of the Surface. Period. No amount of delusional handwaving will erase this. What Apple has done is to make a lawnmower with wings as they’ve criticized MS of doing. The only problem for Apple is that their device (iPad Pro) doesn’t even come close to the Surface here and has a fatal flaw. There is no multi-angle kickstand which is a fatal flaw. That kickstand is precisely what makes the keyboard and stylus usable on the Surface. Without that, typing and using a stylus to draw, etc. are severely hampered. Users will see this, third parties will make clunky accessories to try and rectify the problem, and meanwhile, the Surface will keep marching along with the ability to run full desktop class apps like Photoshop, etc. The iPad Pro is now copying the Surface and fails.

      1. I get that you love the Surface and want to make babies with it, good for you. I won’t take that from you.

        As far as the idea that an upright device is ideal for writing on, there’s a little problem known as “gorilla arm” where your arm rapidly gets very tired after a short time of holding it out from your body to do any manipulation or writing. This is an ergonomic disaster and a non-starter for any device that needs to be used more than a short period of time.

        The iPad is a vastly complex device and a relatively simple cover keyboard is hardly anything to get overly worked up over. Yes Apple copied MS here but not on a feature that is highly innovative, and the fact that Apple had a patent for this before the Surface came out also ruins your “copy” theory.

        1. 1. People do care what people think because we will either choose to buy or not buy a device. If enough people don’t buy, a product can fail. My points are valid. Nobody, but nobody, who is serious about productivity, is going to use an iPad at a fixed angle. Therefore, the keyboard cover that Apple has provided is flawed and somewhat unusable. This is one major problem with what they’ve offered. The Surface has solved this problem. Ask yourself what you’ve done. What you’ve created. What you’ve innovated. The multi-angle kickstand on the Surface that disappears when not in use is incredibly innovative. If Apple did the kickstand you’d all be praising them and drinking the koolaid.
          2. Patents on keyboard covers. First, show that Apple has been awarded patents on this in the time mentioned. Second, show that other companies don’t have patents related to this and before Apple. Third, show that Microsoft and others weren’t first to market. Fourth, show that Microsoft’s keyboard cover isn’t novel and worthy of a patent. Fifth, show that other companies didn’t have patents and apply for patents as early as the year 2000 for a keyboard cover that attaches magnetically. I’ll save you the time: other companies have patents on a tablet keyboard cover that attaches magnetically dating back much farther than you think and far before Apple. Second, the USPTO AWARDED Microsoft patents related to a tablet keyboard cover in 2013. “Microsoft collects 13 design patents for Surface, keyboard covers”. If Microsoft’s design wasn’t novel and/or infringed on something Apple patented, etc., they wouldn’t have been awarded patents on it. Let’s cut the fanboy BS right now.


        2. I disagree that Apple copied Microsoft’s surface with the keyboard cover. Just months after the original iPad was released in 2010, May to be precise, a keyboard cover was released for the iPad. There were multiple manufacturers of keyboard covers within a few months from there, including some that connected directly through the 30 pin connector for power and data, eschewing Bluetooth. I’ve had several, and did not find them compelling enough to use, and I’ve written two novels on my iPad.

          1. You will never convince him with truth and logic Im afraid, he is convinced that he has a patent upon that. When someone says that Microsoft didn’t copy the iPad but claims Apple did copy the Surface keyboard cover despite all the evidence he himself actually mentions in some of his meandering drivel, you have to realise your are conversing with someone less objective than a brick wall for the most part.

      2. 1. The iPad Pro is now copying the Surface and fails.
        2. If enough people don’t buy, a product can fail.
        3. The Apple iPad Pro will be in November.


        I heard the same thing from Zune Thang a while back. By the way how is the Zune doing these days? Apple’s failing at copying that as well, thank goodness.

        Come back when you have sales figures for both side or with speculation like that, maybe you can become a jouranalist, or a Microsoftie troll.

          1. You know the symptoms of a failed debater.

            1. Insult the messenger.
            2. Blow smoke and mirrors.
            3. Ignore issues brought up totally.

            When it comes to failure, congratulations, it’s mission accomplished.

    4. Son, you do realize that saying “completely innovative” does make people suspicious of your veracity, right?

      It also strikes me as a touch desperate. A keyboard for a mobile device that has 0% market share? That’s the star you’re going to hitch your wagon to? Ooook. I mean, you might be right, but isn’t that sad if that’s all you’ve got?

    5. You have some points except the last bit about Surface being completely innovative and unmatched. I have no interest in Apple’s keyboard cover. I don’t think you need it for a tablet.

      The pencil is intriguing and very interested in how it matches the other solutions (surface, wacom). Early hands on suggest it is sig. better thanks to Apple’s screen tech and A9. I want to use Adobe suite and will compare both since the price is very similar.

    6. Here is the problem with your little tirade.
      No one cares.
      No one on the Apple side is saying look we invented this, or gee Apple is amazing look what they invented first before everyone else in the whole wide world.
      They just came out with a soft cover that incorporates a keyboard and a stand.
      Get over it.

  2. Something no one points out, even Apple fans, is that the iPad Pro has cell connectivity. This was something that Surface has lacked, even the RT. Sometimes you are in places with no Wifi or don’t want to use unsecured free WiFi. The large screen makes iPads the best GPS device. The iPad pro is a true mobile device, the Surface is just a inside out laptop. Yes it is an option, however Microsoft spent over a billion dollars for cell phone company and can’t figure out how to put it in their tables.

  3. Why does anyone bother to talk about walking corpses? Surface was DOA. It’s the waking dead. Thankfully, the only people who get the brains eaten are the suckers who pay for the things.

    Shall we move on now to the world of the living, please?

      1. Oh kam. Don’t blame me. Blame Microsoft. I only observe.

        Q: How much profit has Microsoft made on the Surface? Compare that figure to Apple’s profit on the iPad.

        Q: Does Surface have a future? There is no isolated bubble thinking required to seriously ask this question. Note how Surface RT is EOL already.

        I’ll save some time and quote from Wikipedia’s article about Microsoft Surface:

        In July 2013, Steve Ballmer revealed that the Surface hasn’t sold as well as he hoped. He reported that Microsoft had made a loss of US$900 million due to the lackluster Surface sales.

        Skipping forward in time:

        However, Surface Pro 3 succeeded in garnering a great interest in the Surface line, making Surface business profitable for the first time in fiscal year Q1 2015. Later in Q2, sales of Surface division topped $1 billion. Surface division scored $888 million for Q4 2015 despite an overall loss of $2.1 billion for Microsoft, a 117% year-over-year growth thanks to the steady commercial performance of Surface Pro 3 and the launch of mainstream model Surface 3.

        Overall profit from the Surface venture: Negligible compared to Apple’s iPad profits.

  4. Agreed regarding the keyboard price. It’s a whopping Apple blunder and is not going to set will with people. I have no doubt that Bluetooth equivalents will be HALF that price if not lower from third parties, and they’ll probably have hella better keyboards.

    And it all seems a bit odd to me anyway. I’ll stick with my so-much-more-capable MacBook Pro and it’s wicked touch pad.

      1. No, third party accessory makers will never be able to match the Surface keyboard for one key reason: they will always have to build in a stand into their keyboards so it’s impossible to make a simple cover that is full featured and thin like the Surface keyboard.

        All keyboards for the iPad Pro that even come close to the Surface keyboard will be heavy, bulky, and clunky. Apple’s problem is lack of a built in multi-angle stand. Anyone who is serious about portable productivity will just get a laptop or Surface that runs full desktop apps, has a proper operating system, and has the power and facility to drive large additional screens.

  5. Just wish the iPad Pro was more versatile. The ability to read and write to USB thumb drives would help out in the real world. Currently if someone hands you a USB thumb drive full of documents or files your pretty much stuck unless you have Mac also by your side.

  6. Surface was a joke until they came out with the Pro 3 and dumped RT with the Surface 3.

    The Pro 3 can run any professional software. A photographer can run Lightroom or Photoshop on it. Will the iPad Pro be able to handle RAW files and output pro-level work? I don’t know but I doubt it unless Adobe really goes all-in on iPad Pro-specific apps.

    And remember iPad Pro will be competing against the Surface Pro 4, not the 3. Surface Pro 3 with the i5 processor and 128 gb storage is currently discounted to $749. Even as a rabid iPad user since 2010 I’d find it hard to justify $799 for a Pro with 32 gb.

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