Notes app with iOS 11 keyboard 

Notes app with iOS 11 keyboard 

I don’t know how long it is going to take me to write this article, as I will be doing it without a hardware keyboard. Here we go...


Since typing that first sentence, I have spent a little more than half a day on the iPad without a keyboard attached. I have written a half an article and sent out a handful of text messages. The first thing I would note is, without even practicing before getting started, I have not noticed too much of a drop off when it comes to my typing speed and accuracy.

To be sure, there are definitely some differences. But they are not nearly as dramatic as I suspected they would be. There is a skill to typing on glass. It has to be acquired over time. That said, the latest software keyboard on the 12.9” iPad Pro makes a world of difference. If you have tried it on other iterations of iOS keyboards, the big iPad under the influence of iOS 11 is a world apart.

That said, random capitalizations, numbers, and special characters are still going to slow you down. For them, you have to go from touch typing to hunt and peck. That said, this keyboard is surprisingly capable. Whatever you are expecting from it, be prepared to be pleasantly surprised. But also be prepared to put in a little more editing time.


There is something to be said for using the iPad the way it was intended to be used. It is easy to forget. But the 12.9” iPad is still an iPad. It is still a tablet, and all that entails. And there is something uniquely glorious about using a tablet this big.

Casual gaming, news reading, TV watching, podcast listening, and everything else that makes up the tablet lifestyle is exceedingly rich and wonderful on a device the size of a serving platter. And I find that when the keyboard is not attached, I am much more likely to use the iPad for those things than I do when the iPad is in laptop mode

The fact that I can also get work done on this device is just a bonus. In a couple of days, it has gone from a laptop that can occasionally be used as a tablet, to a tablet that can occasionally be used as a laptop. For me, that is a major transformation.

About that Keyboard

The Apple Smart Keyboard is pushing $200 when tax is figured in. If your mobile typing needs are moderate, you should strongly consider skipping it, and using the iPad Pro as a pure tablet. If you are going to be routinely writing 300 words or more in one sitting, or heavily using special function keys, you should pick up the keyboard.

Until now, this article has been tapped out on glass. I have written many articles for work typing on glass. If you are wondering if it can be done, stop. It can and is done by many people everyday. There is a skill to be learned and adjustments to be made. But the iOS 11 keyboard is a dream to type on for tablet purists.

The greatest benefit of the Apple Smart Keyboard is that it is easy to remove when you don’t need it. If you are going to be using your iPad Pro for a long typing session, go ahead and bring the keyboard with you. But practice the discipline of only using it when you are typing long form, or using it as a viewing stand. Otherwise, remove it and set it aside. You will find your iPad use increasing, along with your joy of using it.

David Johnson