First Impressions of the New Apple Magic Keyboard and Trackpad

Some of the magic in Apple’s new Magic Keyboard and Trackpad is in the company’s ability to deliver them very quickly. I ordered them yesterday shortly after they went on sale, and I got them just after lunch today; faster than I’ve ever gotten anything from Apple.

Aside from the quick delivery, these are interesting devices. Here’s a photo of the new keyboard and trackpad next to the old models on my desk; I’ve aligned them at the edges where they join, so you can see the difference in size of each device.

Magic keyboard and trackpad

As you can see, the keyboard is a bit smaller – gone is the space needed to hold the batteries, the width has been shaved, and the keys are a bit closer together as well. The angle is lower, and the touch makes it feel a lot like the keyboard on the new MacBook. This is a good thing, at least for me; I touch type, and the shorter travel makes it easier for me to type. However, the new keyboard is a lot noisier when I type. Not a big deal, but the lack of cushioning under the keys is noticeable. The only downside I see is that the ↑ and ↓ keys are too close together, making it too easy to press the wrong one.

As for the trackpad, I’m not so sure this is an improvement. I don’t need such a large trackpad, and I’m not sure what improvement the extra width is supposed to offer. I generally use the rightmost side of the trackpad, taping and scrolling with two fingers, while my third and fourth fingers rest on my desk. The extra width means that I have to move my arm more to use the trackpad, and I’m hardly using any of that space anyway. As for Force Touch, I’m not sure it offers many advantages on the desktop. While it’s a sort of right-click for the iPhone, there are already plenty of gestures for OS X. Unless I’m missing something, the huge size of the Magic Trackpad is simply wasted. I’d be fine with a trackpad half as wide as this.

Also, I’m finding that when trying to click and drag one or more icons, I either end up selecting the text of a file, or opening the file(s). It seems like the Force Touch thing prevents me from clicking and dragging. I can turn off the Force Touch feature, but then there’s no real advantage to this trackpad over the previous model (other than not needing batteries).

I’m finding one small issue in using these two devices together. The height of the trackpad matches the height of the keys on the keyboard, not its body, as is the case with the older devices. As such, it’s sometimes a bit weird to move from one to the other, and I find that in doing so, I hit some of the keys on the right side of the keyboard. I’ll have to try and figure this out; there’s a lot of muscle memory to retrain with new input devices.

I’ve decided to order the new Magic Mouse as well. I’ve not used a mouse in a long time, but I’ve found recently that it would be a lot easier to perform precise actions, such as when retouching photos. I have a feeling that I’ll eventually stick with the old Magic Trackpad and return the new one, and keep the Magic Mouse around for the occasional use. But more on that next week…

So, if you’ve received these new devices, feel free to post comments below. I’m curious to hear how other people feel, especially about the trackpad.

12 thoughts on “First Impressions of the New Apple Magic Keyboard and Trackpad

  1. I thought I could use this new trackpad as a cheap alternative of force touch experience, on MacBook Air.
    However, its price is still sky high, and it seems that not so easy to use. In fact I don’t really like the Apple’s trackpad.
    I would like to hold on and try a bit more before deciding to buy it or just giving up.

  2. What happened to three-finger drag? It seems to have been forgotten in El Capitan. It solved the fussiness of click, press down and then attempt to move around on a trackpad while continuing to apply pressure. For me that was always a more suitable procedure for a mouse.

    • I’m not familiar with that gesture, but it doesn’t sound like it would be easy to use when selecting multiple items.

      • It’s easy – hold down ‘Command’, tap-select multiple items, three-finger-drag over any one of the selected items, move to destination. It’s how I load multiple podcasts from iTunes with one swipe into a playlist on my iPod shuffle … every morning :-)

    • Hi Bob,

      I also thought the three–finger drag had disappeared. On one of my Macs it still worked, but on my main Mac it appeared to be missing! The control for this has been moved to Accessibility in System Preferences.

      This seems pretty bizarre in terms of interface design (and I’m NOT one of the complainers).

      • Thanks JimB!

        It is bizarre how that feature was moved out of the ‘Trackpad’ preferences pane (and left no forwarding address) – after living there for (at least) five previous versions of OS X.

        I just discovered the new Finder command “New Folder with Selection (n Items)” – available from the FIle menu (or a right-click) when two or more files are selected – that will really be a time saver!

    • Hi Jowie! :) I don’t really like the look of the new keyboard – it looks like a door-stop.
      Bit of an off-day for Jonny really.
      I’d have expected to see some of the optical tapering to the underside that works so well on the Airs to help it seem a bit more ‘floaty’.
      As is—the simple wedge maybe gets ‘Bauhaus points’ for simplicity – but looks about half as cheap as the old one – for twice as much!

  3. If Apple’s past is any indication, their implementation of gestures will be sorely lacking, even with Force Touch on the new trackpad. But I expect BetterTouchTool will come up with some creative ways to use it.

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