Who has one iPad Pro must look at the Smart Connector and ask yourself: why didn’t something so cool work? If you don’t have Apple’s professional tablet and you have no idea what I’m talking about, I explain: these are three balls that are located on the left side of the tablet (when we are looking at it standing, in portrait mode) capable of transfer data and power between iPad Pro and any compatible accessory. This without having to pair with Bluetooth or anything like that – just touch the accessory there and everything will work.
For obvious reasons, the most famous accessory to use the Smart Connector is the Smart Keyboard, Apple’s own keyboard. When Apple launched the technology in parallel with the first 12.9-inch iPad Pro, however, it was imagined that shortly afterwards several manufacturers would embark on this and launch a sea of accessories. Ledo mistake: until today, we have only a few accessories from Logitech that make use of the Smart Connector, such as the CREATE case / keyboard.
In CREATE’s own review, we commented as follows: “In fact, it is curious how even today there are so few products compatible with the Smart Connector on the market; Logi really got a special deal for its accessories for iPad Pro. ”
This week, Fast Company talked to some accessory manufacturers in the world Apple and seems to have solved the mystery of the Smart Connector.
One of them (who preferred to remain anonymous) cited a very long waiting time and high costs for Smart Connector components. “For a business like ours, we have to have a very fast product development cycle. When you have a long component lead time, which is close to six months, this is not sustainable. ”
Incipio said that since both Apple and Logitech own their cases / keyboards, they are assessing the market’s appetite for another iPad keyboard, identifying if there are any gaps they can fill. Roughly speaking, they are struggling to differentiate themselves and launch something cool instead of simply running to launch something like what already exists.
They [Apple] they are very cautious with what they do, and they want to make sure they are correct. It’s one thing to develop something personalized with a partner [a Logitech], another thing is to develop for a platform, so that others can use it.
–Carlos Del Toro, product director at Incipio.
It is worth mentioning here a small noise that occurred when the Fast Company talked to Del Toro. Initially, the director said the company was waiting for Apple to issue test standards to other companies – in addition to Logitech – while also stating that the necessary test components were not readily available. But later, Del Toro stepped back from his claims and acknowledged that he had not yet completed the development of a product with Smart Connector technology – despite being interested in doing so since the end of 2015.
Other manufacturers, like Brydge, have stated that the fact that you have to build something that necessarily needs to come into contact with the three marbles to work is quite limiting. Therefore, they prefer to bet on products compatible with Bluetooth technology, opening a wider range of options (such as using the iPad while standing). The company does not rule out using the Smart Connector, but it would probably have to be for a different type of product.
Looking ahead, there is no reason why the Smart Connector should not be considered in future Brydge products if the application is correct.
–Nicholas Smith, CEO of Brydge.
One of the possible negative points of a Bluetooth accessory would be the need for it to have an internal battery – after all, unlike the Smart Connector, the iPad itself is not able to power these accessories (even because it does not necessarily have direct contact with them). However, this no longer seems to be a current problem, as pointed out by Jeff Meek, senior product manager at Zagg. “Our keyboards have a battery life of up to two years under average use, we don’t see power as a significant downside to be resolved through the connector.”
It is undeniable, however, that the possibilities with the Smart Connector are great. As the matter of Fast Company pointed out, we could see a keyboard capable of charging the iPad through a built-in battery or one with extra storage that integrates with the new Files application (Files), iOS 11.
As good news, there is confirmation from Apple that several companies are now developing accessories with the Smart Connector – and that, in the not-so-distant future, we may see these new accessories coming to market.
10.5 ″ and 12.9 ″ Pro iPads
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