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Does Apple's new Magic Keyboard patent reveal the future of the iPad?

Magic Keyboard Black Friday: A selection of iPad magic keyboards
(Image credit: Apple)

Apple's iPad Magic Keyboard has plenty going for it, with the full-size keys and touchpad turning the iPad into a potential MacBook replacement for the first time, well, ever. But if a new patent is anything to go by, Apple hasn't finished with the design yet.

A newly revealed filing describes a "Sliding Input Device Cover" (we have a feeling that isn't the final name), which acts a lot like the current Magic Keyboard – except it slides. This could potentially allow for a larger trackpad, or indeed a larger iPad to be attached. (In the market for a new iPad? Check out the best Apple Black Friday deals.) 

The Apple Magic Keyboard for the 11-inch iPad Pro

The current Magic Keyboard design (Image credit: Apple)

As spotted by AppleInsider, the design does away with the cylindrical spine of the current Magic Keyboard entirely. That aspect of the existing model does, of course, house the USB-C port, and it isn't clear where that might sit on this version.

The sliding design means that when opened, the keyboard portion of the accessory would be 'pushed' towards the user. At present, the 'floating' iPad hovers above the top line of keys, which can be a little awkward for accessing the number keys. The sliding design could offer a little more space between the tablet and the keys.

Apple Magic Keyboard patent

A screenshot from the patent filing (Image credit: US Patent and Trademark Office)

"A portion of the input device can extend laterally away from an edge," reads the patent. "The input device can comprise a keyboard and a trackpad surface. The input device can be slidable between the first position and the second position."

While this doesn't sound the most radical design update ever (and we certainly hope it doesn't add any more weight to the already hefty device), perhaps the most intriguing aspect is what it might mean for the iPad itself. As AppleInsider notes, a larger keyboard could easily support larger and heavier tablets, since the base is what carries the weight. And with rumours suggesting Apple is working on iPads as large as a whopping 16-inches, perhaps that explains why the company is exploring new Magic Keyboard formats too.

Time will tell whether an updated Magic Keyboard is set to, er, slide into view any time soon, and indeed whether those larger iPads are on the horizon. Don't fancy waiting to find out? Check out today's best iPad deals below, and be sure to take a look at our main Apple deals page.

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Daniel Piper

Daniel Piper is senior news editor at Creative Bloq, and an authority on all things art, design, branding and tech. He has a particular penchant for Apple products – some corners of the internet might call him an 'iSheep', but he's fine with this. It doesn't bother him at all. Why would it? They're just really nicely designed products, okay? Daniel is also a comedian and national poetry slam champion, and his favourite Bond is, obviously, Sean Connery.