One of my students asked to interview me the other day. He’s writing a school paper on why Apple is so successful, and his mother suggested that with my “Apple obsession” I might be a good person with whom to speak. She’s actually right, since I am, in many ways, the poster child for what Apple has done during the past few years. You see, I never thought I would use a Mac. In fact, when I met Elana she was in art school and was using a Mac. It was only when her computer died that I convinced her that Windows was the way to go. And for years we were a Windows household. And when the iPhone was announced I made fun of it… big time. I mean, no applications, a walled garden, Apple’s control, no stylus… The list went on and on.
Then one day I used my friend’s iPhone and it was all over. It week later I had an iPhone. A month later I had my MacBook. A few months after that I sold my Windows desktop and purchased an iMac. For me, and for many others, the iPhone was the “gateway device” into the world of Apple and its products.
Fast-forward to today. When I’m working on either my iMac or my MacBook air, I usually have either my iPhone or my iPad sitting next to it for other tasks. I find that it works rather well to have my email on my iPad while I’m working on other projects on the computer. Switching from one to the other and back again is a fairly seamless experience, and it just got even better with an innovative keyboard from Matias.
The Slim One the Keyboard for iPhone and Mac is actually designed for people like me. It lets you take one keyboard and seamlessly switch between using it with your Mac and with your iPhone. [Full disclosure, I actually find it more useful with my iPad and my iPhone, but since both are iOS devices there’s really no difference between the two.]
Let’s take a look.
Here’s what the company says about its keyboard:
Turbocharge your texting, Facebook and Twitter messages. The comfort, speed and convenience of a full desktop keyboard lets you have much faster and more detailed text conversations on your iPhone.
iPhone navigation and media keys: on iPhone and iPod touch, the function keys control screen brightness, navigation, volume and audio track selection.
One click switching between iPhone and Mac: With one click, you can use your won the keyboard to type on your iPhone or iPod touch. Click again to instantly switch back to your Mac.
Symbols: Extra handy (but hard to remember) symbols are printed right on the keys. Simply hold down the option key for the bottom right characters, or shift – option for the top right characters.
No batteries required: The keyboard cable to your Mac also powers the wireless connection to your iPhone or iPod touch, so you’ll never have to worry about batteries.
Includes a mini riser stand which is adjustable to three different viewing angles.
Let’s start with the keyboard as a keyboard. It looks like an Apple keyboard with black keys in place of the white ones or the keyboard from my MacBook air if I were able to pull it away from the rest of the computer. It also feels like Apple’s keyboard or, at least, it almost feels like Apple’s keyboard. The keys have a nice bounce, are easy to press and are nicely spaced. All that makes this an easy transition if you are used to a Mac keyboard.
I did, however, write ALMOST and I meant it. The keyboard is almost as good as Apple’s offering. I say almost because I still prefer the feel of Apple’s keyboard a bit over this one. That is, however, a completely personal preference so it really can’t be taken as a black mark against the keyboard. And, as alternatives to Apple’s keyboard goes… this is second to none, and that is before the special sauce comes into play.
So let’s talk about the special sauce.
What is really amazing about this keyboard is its ability to also connect to any iOS device and make the switch with a single tap of a button. As previously noted, the company promotes it for the iPhone or iPod touch but it is just as useful if you have an iPad. (In fact, I have mentioned to Twelve South that I think bundling this keyboard with their HoverBar for the iPad (reviewed here) might be a really great mashup.)
Once the iOS device has been paired with the keyboard, a simple and familiar process if you have ever used and iOS device, you’ve simply tap the button that has the word “iPhone” in the upper right-hand corner. The keyboard then goes to use the iOS device instead of the Mac and, when you are done, you simply tap the button a second time to go back to the full computer.
Because this keyboard is designed to be used with an iOS device it not only has the familiar Mac function keys but it also has a screen brightness control, the ability to pull up the photo album with one of button, the ability to switch back to the soft on-screen keyboard, music and volume controls and more. It is a full featured iOS keyboard that serves double duty.
Since pretty much every Mac owner I know has at least one iOS device, this keyboard makes a lot of sense.
The inclusion of the iPhone stand is a nice touch as well; it has an unusual design and it really works beautifully.
The fact that it breaks down into two pieces and comes with a carrying bag is a nice bonus. In fact, I’m thinking about getting one for my iPad since it really is a convenient stand to carry.
So what do I think about this keyboard? If you are looking for an external keyboard for your Mac this is a really good choice. No, it is a great choice. And if you are looking for an external keyboard to use with your iOS device, then I think this keyboard ought to be at the top of your list when shopping. And if you are looking for a keyboard that will do both – well, this is the only real choice in town, and it is a winner. It is priced well, it serves its purpose beautifully, and it is one of the more innovative and interesting products I’ve seen in quite sometime. In a world in which many of are becoming more and more steeped in Apple’s products, this is a device that says, “if you’re going to be so obsessed we might as me make things easier for you” … and that’s what they did.
Details and ordering information can be found here.
What I Like: A good keyboard that is almost as good as Apple’s own; A look that matches your Apple devices; Convenient function keys for use with both your Mac and your iOS device; Easy switching between different devices with one keyboard; Includes an innovative stand for your iOS device
What Needs Improvement: I like the keyboard, but I find that it still falls slightly short of Apple’s own offerings