Apple's New Magic Trackpad, Magic Mouse and Magic Keyboard

13 October 2015

Apple:

Apple today also introduced a new lineup of wireless accessories including the all-new Magic Keyboard™, Magic Mouse® 2 and Magic Trackpad® 2. The Magic devices have been redesigned to feel more comfortable than ever, and feature rechargeable batteries that completely eliminate the need for disposable batteries. The new Magic Trackpad 2 also brings Apple’s revolutionary Force Touch interface to the desktop, adding a new dimension to the iMac experience.

Apple seems to have grown out of the iDevice nomenclature, with new products and services instead using a new ‘Apple X’ branding, but it hasn’t stopped calling its Mac accessories Magic. In fact, they added a Magic device to their lineup: the Magic Keyboard, which used to be called the Apple Wireless Keyboard.

Yet, there’s no real magic in the new Magic Keyboard. It’s a redesign of the old keyboard with bigger keys and inbuilt batteries for charging. At least with the other two accessories, you can somewhat justify the name by focusing on the unusual-but-cool multitouch and pressure-sensitivity features. Magic feels dated and out of place but I suppose we should all just get used to Apple’s eccentric, inconsistent, approach to product names1.

In terms of the hardware itself, bringing Force Touch to iMac is cool but its appeal is limited by flakey software system support. Force Touch integration on the Mac, even on El Capitan, is an afterthought. The Trackpad has far more value as a multitouch gesture input device than a Force Touch input, which means you aren’t really benefitting much over the previous model which coped with multitouch just fine. I’m more positive about the keyboard redesign. The keys are bigger, go edge-to-edge and use an improved scissor mechanism for precise typing. Apple managed to enhance the product’s appearance and usability without making it weigh more, so big thumbs up there. 

I also like how everything has internal rechargeable batteries now, charged via a Lightning port. Managing your own set of rechargeables is such a hassle. A neat touch is that all three accessories will do wireless auto-pairing with a Mac the first time you plug them in using the cable, saving a setup step for many people.

An annoyance is that the Mouse cannot be used whilst it is being charged as the Lightning cable sticks out the bottom of the device, not the side. Apple will argue these accessories charge so fast it doesn’t matter but I think it’s still a pain.

Moreover, all three of these accessories are very pricey. $99 for a consumer keyboard is steep. I wouldn’t recommend buying them with your own money, but people who buy new iMacs get the nice bonus of getting the magic keyboard and mouse bundled into the box. The same cannot be said for the Magic Trackpad. It has to be bought on its own … and it costs a whopping $130.

1 Here’s another great example from just last month.