Three weeks ago, Brydge teased the Brydge Pro+, a device similar to the existing Brydge Pro keyboard for the 2018 iPad Pro but with a trackpad centered on the palm rest. Since then, pre-orders have opened for the product.
Here’s a snippet of John Voorhees’ reactive article at MacStories wherein the “feature” he references is iPadOS 13’s pointing device support:
I’ve experimented with the feature on several occasions, but until it’s more refined, I have a hard time seeing myself using a pointing device with my iPad Pro regularly. As a result, I’m not that interested in the Brydge Pro+, but I’ll withhold my final judgment on that score until I’ve seen reviews by people who have used production models of the device and tried one myself.
If MacStories is going to insist on incorporating opinionated nonsense in every article, wouldn’t it make sense to have someone write about the Brydge Pro+ who’s used iPadOS’s pointing device support more than on “several occasions”?
Quibble aside, the addition of a trackpad to the Brydge Pro keyboard is something I’ve been looking forward to for some time. As a user of the current product with my 12.9″ 2018 iPad Pro, I’ve often been lured into thinking I’m actually using a laptop — so much so that my thumb has unconsciously reached for a nonexistent trackpad more times than I can count.
The pointing device support built into iOS 13 is also something I’ve come to rely on. The iPad Pro screen, while beautiful, is a magnet for fingerprints which encourages me to touch it as little as possible. This may seem counterintuitive for a device intended to be used primarily with touchscreen input, but the Apple Pencil initially set me on the path of alternate forms of interaction with the added bonus of keeping the screen cleaner for a longer period of time.
In response to Brydge’s announcement of a trackpad-equipped version of its keyboard, many hot takes were offered that sought to quell expectations for anyone expecting to magically turn their iPad Pro into a MacBook, including this one from Jason Snell at Six Colors:
I had a chance to use a prototype of the Brydge Pro+ last summer, and while in many ways it’s the iPad accessory I’ve been dreaming of for some time, it’s still quite limited by iPadOS 13. While the iPad has a real cursor now if you turn on Assistive Touch, it’s really just a virtual finger. (It kills me that external pointing devices can’t control the text editing cursor that’s been a part of iOS for years now.) And while that’s quite a lot better than nothing, when you use a trackpad in a laptop configuration it’s hard not to hold it to the high standards of the trackpads on Apple’s MacBooks. By those standards, it’s rough.
Indeed, it’s not hard to be lulled into thinking you’re using a MacBook based on form factor alone. Yet the iPad Pro isn’t meant to be a MacBook and the pointer isn’t meant to do exactly what a mouse pointer does. As a touchscreen device running a touchscreen operating system, of course the pointer serves as a virtual finger. For someone like me who loathes touching the screen, a virtual finger is exactly what I want.
I’ve grown so accustomed to using my iPad Pro with AssistiveTouch turned on and a Bluetooth mouse paired that I acquired a Logitech MX Anywhere 2s and matching case. The mouse goes wherever my iPad Pro goes and always comes out of my messenger bag whenever I plan do any kind of work, whether triaging email, trudging through Fiery Feeds or writing.
The mouse works fantastically with iPadOS’ pointing device support, even allowing me to map the buttons to the way I expect them to be used: left button as single tap, right button as long press, middle button as a home button and the pair of side buttons as volume control.
The addition of a mouse or Brydge’s custom trackpad implementation — iPadOS doesn’t actually support trackpads, forcing the company to engineer a way to convert trackpad input into mouse movements and clicks — greatly enhances the utility of the iPad Pro in significant ways. I have no desire to go back to using my iPad Pro without a pointing device and while I’ve grown accustomed to the Logitech mouse, I’m convinced having an integrated trackpad will take touch-free interactions to the next level.
I’m confident in this statement because I’ve used iPadOS’ pointing device support extensively, incorporated it into various workflows and created an indispensable aspect of my interactions with my iPad Pro. Apologies to Mr. Voorhees, but I’ll look to my own analysis before I trust someone whose research involves no more than experimenting on “several occasions.”