Lack of iPad Pro Smart Connector Accessories Blamed on Long Wait Times for Components

Discussion in 'iOS Blog Discussion' started by MacRumors, Aug 13, 2017.

  1. MacRumors macrumors bot


    Apr 12, 2001

    Fast Company published a report this week exploring why third-party accessories that make use of Apple's Smart Connector remain few and far between, almost two years after the connector first debuted on the iPad Pro. The magnetic Smart Connector allows the iPad Pro to communicate with and power compatible accessories, like the company's own Smart Keyboard, without the hassle of wires.

    The first supporting third-party accessory, Logitech's Create Smart Connector keyboard, launched the same day as the iPad Pro in late 2015, shortly followed by the Logitech charging base, and more recently a Logitech keyboard for the 10.5-inch iPad Pro. However, this close partnership between Apple and Logitech is one of the reasons for the dearth of Smart Connector accessories from competing vendors, according to the report.

    Other issues are said to relate to procuring Smart Connector components, with manufacturers reporting longer lead times compared to other accessories, making them time- and cost-prohibitive. "For a business like us, we've got a very rapid product development cycle," said one vendor source, who asked to remain anonymous. "When you've got a long lead time component that's close to six months, that's just not tenable."

    Logitech Create Smart Keyboard

    Meanwhile, some accessory makers simply preferred Bluetooth as a better fit, especially for iPad keyboards, with more room for maneuver in terms of accessory design. For instance, the Smart Connector only works with keyboards in landscape mode, whereas some users prefer to type in portrait orientation. The issue of Bluetooth battery life has also been minimized, with smaller batteries now lasting for months rather than weeks.

    There are only four Smart Connector accessories currently on the market - three offered by Logitech, one by Apple. Fast Company was told by Apple that multiple companies are now developing Smart Connector accessories, but going on this report, iPad Pro owners looking to further exploit the potential of Apple's proprietary connector could be in for some wait yet.

    Article Link: Lack of iPad Pro Smart Connector Accessories Blamed on Long Wait Times for Components
  2. twinlight macrumors 6502


    Sep 4, 2016
    Can't really imagine any other accessories than charging stand and keyboards. So why would anyone get in when they already are made?
  3. Telos101 macrumors regular


    Apr 29, 2016
    From the linked article:

    Looking ahead, though, the real advantage for the Smart Connector isn’t just the hassle-free, powered connection, but the possibilities it could open up for the iPad as a whole. Imagine, for instance, a keyboard that could charge the iPad through a built-in battery, or one with extra storage that integrated with Apple’s new Files app in iOS 11. Perhaps there’s even room for more kinds of input devices, such as a MIDI keyboard dock that didn’t require toting around an extra Lightning cable and stand.

    The Smart Connector is still full of potential. Now peripheral makers just have to realize it.
  4. itsmilo macrumors 68000


    Sep 15, 2016
    i had no idea it was even opened up for other vendors lol i thought it was Apple exclusive to push their own keyboard
  5. DBZmusicboy01 macrumors 6502a

    Sep 30, 2011
    Smart connector is a failure. It’s not even coming to the iPhone 8 so it’s only a iPad Pro feature. But it makes no sense since the lightening port can be used for keyboards and stuff.
  6. ouimetnick macrumors 68020


    Aug 28, 2008
    Beverly, Massachusetts

    Similar to Thunderbolt. They hyped it at first and then did nothing to sell people on it. Although I’m pretty sure that was Intel’s fault, Apple could have marketed it more heavily.
  7. HelloMacintosh macrumors newbie


    Aug 13, 2017
    Deep under New York City
    Has anyone looked under the hood of this smart connector? I have the feeling it's just a USB port with a different physical design.
  8. Dimka macrumors newbie


    Jan 23, 2007
    San Francisco
    Those are all lame excuses by manufacturers that do not really value good UX and do not want to have any non short turn around products.
    Usually in cases like that first party should be more proactive
  9. WilliamG macrumors G3

    Mar 29, 2008

    Thunderbolt is absolutely taking off. That it uses the USB C connector makes it even more brilliant.
  10. Ries macrumors 68000

    Apr 21, 2007
    TB is 6+ years old and there is barely any devices. Just because TB3 can mimic USB-C connection doesn't make it successful, it just makes it an expensive USB-C port.
  11. Kiro macrumors member


    Sep 15, 2015
    Germany, Leipzig
    eGPU - case closed.
  12. MH01 Suspended


    Feb 11, 2008
    TB ....going back to TB1 is not taking off. When it comes to the lastest machine , most are just using it with USB-A, the actual TB functionality remains unused.
  13. bacaramac macrumors 65816


    Dec 29, 2007
    Not sure what you people are talking about. Love Smart Connector on 2017 iPad Pro 12.9. I’m using LogiBase and use iPad more as a desktop vs an iPad. It leaves lightning port open for SD card reader. Yes it only charges if, but that’s all I needed from it. Landscape mounted iPad and open lightning port.
  14. AlexH macrumors 68000


    Mar 7, 2006
    Because those are flying off the shelves right now...
  15. NinjaHERO macrumors 6502a


    Aug 29, 2008
    U S of A
    I love my Logitech Keyboard. Makes typing on my Ipad a breeze. But I'm always down for more options. Bring on more keyboards please.
  16. Berti10 macrumors regular


    Jan 24, 2012
    Remember, when the iPhone 7+ was said to get this connector? Can imagine, the next iPhone gets a smartbattery that snaps magneticaly to the iPhone and charges the phone. And also being charged by the iPhone when it charges.
  17. WilliamG macrumors G3

    Mar 29, 2008
    Um no. But ok. The current MacBook Pros wouldn't be anywhere near as awesome if they weren't Thunderbolt 3. The amount of flexibility that affords is stupendous.
  18. 69Mustang macrumors 603


    Jan 7, 2014
    In between a rock and a hard place
    Yeah it has taken a while for TB to start taking off, but I think an even easier mark would be FireWire.
  19. szw-mapple fan, Aug 13, 2017
    Last edited: Aug 13, 2017

    szw-mapple fan macrumors 65816

    szw-mapple fan

    Jul 28, 2012
    Can you seriously imagine a keyboard with a cable connecting to the lightning connector? That seems like the worst UX design decision ever, especially for a portable device like the iPad.
  20. rizzo41999 macrumors 6502


    May 27, 2009
    I'd be open to try some of these should they ever be developed. However, I'm hesitant about the Apple keyboard. I'm not too keen on the fact is doesn't provide full protection to the iPad.
  21. simonmet macrumors 68000


    Sep 9, 2012
    Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
    Apple has always done a great job with their port designs. It’s just hard to compete USB and increasingly wireless.

    Just because it’s niche doesn’t mean it’s bad. FireWire and then Thunderbolt 1 and 2 both had weak wider appeal but the few times I used it (to transfer files between Macs) it was fantastic and way faster than USB at the time.

    I can kind see a market for iPhone cases that utilise the smart connector were it to exist on the iPhone. Take Apple’s own battery cases for example.
  22. farewelwilliams macrumors 68000

    Jun 18, 2014
    IIRC smart connector has pretty slow data transfer speeds.
  23. Dj64Mk7 macrumors 6502a

    Sep 15, 2013
    My old high school has Belkin keyboards that are like this.
  24. alfonsog macrumors 6502


    Jul 17, 2002
    Cape Coral, FL
    Well there’s only been 4 devices ever made with smart connector and for a while there was only 1 device which has a sequel now so of course development is slow to start.
  25. ApfelKuchen macrumors 68030

    Aug 28, 2012
    Between the coasts
    Yeah, when you assume that everything Apple does is a failure.

    Smart Connector has advantages over the Lightning port, and Lightning port has advantages over Smart Connector. Lightning is a far more versatile interface, delivering higher data transfer rates, among other things. Smart Connector's advantages are primarily mechanical. Bluetooth also has its advantages and disadvantages. There is still no one-size-fits-all solution for connectivity.

    As someone who has a Smart Keyboard, I appreciate the strong, magnetic/mechanical bond between the keyboard and device, and that an accidental separation of the keyboard from the iPad will not put stress on a connector/port. You can essentially rip that keyboard from the iPad with no risk of harm to the iPad and minimal risk to the keyboard/cover.

    Sure, that strong, magnetic bond could also be used by a Bluetooth keyboard, but as someone who's been through a variety of accessory keyboards for both iPhone and iPad, Smart Keyboard is by far the easiest to use - no batteries to replace/charge, no pairing. I can keep typing for as long as the iPad has power, and the iPad's Lightning port is free so that I can charge the iPad while I work.

    I don't think Apple ever expected to see a large number of Smart Connector-based products. It wasn't created to generate oodles of licensing revenues from the likes of Logitech, or a standard that would be adopted industry-wide. It would be successful so long as Apple could sell a reasonable number of Smart Keyboards, and if the keyboard would be a viable selling point for iPad Pro. Since "physical keyboard" is one of the top requirements for "laptop replacement," a well-executed accessory keyboard was a necessity. I think they did a fine job.

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