iPad 2020 rumors: The iPad could get a backlit scissor-switch Smart Keyboard

A scissor-switch keyboard for the iPad sounds interesting, but it's not as obvious a fit as it was for the MacBook Pro.

ipad pro smart connector
Leif Johnson

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It’s been over a year since Apple released the current 11- and 12.9 inch iPad Pros, so they’re due for an update—which means the rumor mill for these products is going to start churning more frequently. We’ll keep track of the latest rumors here, until the eventual release of the new iPads.

The latest rumor: backlit iPad Smart Keyboard with scissor switches

According to the Taiwanese publication DigiTimes (which has an uneven reputation for rumors), Apple might release a Smart Keyboard with a scissor-switch design for the upcoming iPad Pro. This new keyboard might also have backlit keys, the report claims. As reported by MacRumors, this conflicts with an earlier report from reliable analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, who claimed last July that the keys for the next iPad would still have a rubber dome design.

Scissor-switch keyboards are very much on Apple’s mind lately. Last year, it updated the 16-inch MacBook Pro with a scissor-switch keyboard instead of the unpopular butterfly keyboards it’d stood by for years, and relatively recent rumors suggest the upcoming 13-inch model will get a scissor-switch keyboard, too.

It’d be interesting to see how a scissor-switch iPad Smart Keyboard would work. If Apple’s rumored Smart Keyboard turns out to be anything like what we saw on the 16-inch MacBook Pro, it’ll basically amount to the same thing. For many, that means a more pleasant typing experience.

Triple-lens cameras for the iPad Pro

OnLeaks (a.k.a Steve H. McFly) has created images based on information he received of what is thought to be the next 11- and 12.9 inch iPad Pros. The images, posted by iGeeksBlog, show the tablets with a triple-lens camera, similar to camera found on the iPhone 11 Pro.

onleaks 2020 ipad pro triple camera OnLeaks

What a triple-lens camera on the iPad Pro models may look like,

OnLeaks says that the dimensions of the 11-inch iPad Pro could be the same as the current model. No information was provided about the dimensions of the 12.9-inch iPad Pro. But since the iPads will have the triple-lens camera, it’s possible that the tablets will be a bit thicker.

The “official looking” images depict the iPad with both an aluminum and glass back, because OnLeaks did not receive information about the case. So OnLeaks created renders showing both materials.

Time-of-flight 3D

We’ve heard plenty of rumors that suggest the 2020 iPhone will have time-of-flight 3D sensors for its rear camera, but a new report from South Korea’s The Elec (via MacRumors) suggests we’ll soon see them in the 2020 iPad Pro, too. We may even see them sooner, as the report claims Apple plans to release the models in March of 2020.

Derkwoo Electronics of South Korea is rumored to start mass-producing some of the components for the time-of-flight sensors sometime later this year. If Apple does end up sticking with the March release date—which seems iffy considering previous iPad Pro release dates, but not implausible—that means we’d see the sensors on the iPad Pro around half a year before we see them on the iPhone.

Time-of-flight sensors measure the time it takes for LED beams to bounce off objects in front of them, which allows for much greater accuracy for augmented reality than what you’ll get with the machine-learning methods employed by the rear cameras in current iPhones. The TrueDepth sensors on the front-facing cameras on current iPhones are wickedly accurate, but they use a different technology that isn’t as effective past a few feet.

It may seem a little out of character for Apple to debut such important hardware on the iPad Pro rather than the iPhone, but the fact is that Apple tends to use its tablets over its phones when it demonstrates AR tech during keynote presentations. Apple seemingly sees the technology as better suited to the iPad, and it’s possible it believes reliable sensors could make both the iPad and augmented reality grow in popularity.

Still, it’s really hard to imagine Apple taking away some of the iPhone’s thunder. For that matter, there are conflicting reports. The usually reliable Bloomberg claims that Apple will refresh the iPad Pro lineup later this year—the current models dropped last November—while Japanese site Mac Otakara recently claimed we’d see iPad Pros with triple lenses this October.

If there’s any truth to The Elec’s report, it could mean that Apple now plans to wait to release the new iPad Pro until next year.

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