I’ve had Apple’s Magic Keyboard for a few months now and thought I’d write a bit about it. In short, it’s a remarkable accessory, but not one I think I’d recommend widely.

I have a 27″ iMac that I use for programming. I wanted a portable machine to use for writing (when it’s safe to leave the house), but didn’t want to buy a whole laptop just for that purpose. The iMac is my home computer, the iPad is my portable one. It seems silly to buy a second portable computer when the iPad already fills that role. So, while the Magic Keyboard is expensive, it’s much cheaper than a MacBook of any variety. It takes my iPad, which does well for a number of functions, and turns it into a pretty good writing device.

The thing about writing is, a lot of it isn’t typing. I spend a good deal of time looking at my notes, flipping back to previous chapters to remember what I’d named a side character, looking stuff up in ebooks I’ve saved as research, going online to figure out what the currency in Austria in the 1770s was, and so on. On a Mac, I’d have each of things things open in a window and could easily switch between them. On an iPad, doing that is cumbersome. So while the Magic Keyboard’s keyboard is fantastic (I’m using it right now), iPad OS just isn’t Mac OS.

Nor do I want it to be. I love being able to tear the iPad off the keyboard and use it in regular tablet mode for most of its functions. I wouldn’t want iPad OS to lose its comfort and simplicity. I have a Mac for that.

Putting that all together, it’s likely that the right setup for me might be a good laptop that stays docked to a big screen most of the time. I could unplug it and take it on the go when needed, but would have all the monitor’s space for Xcode use when I’m at my desk. In the meantime, the iPad Pro with a Magic Keyboard is a great compromise. But it is a compromise.