The Smart Keyboard was one of the major accessories for the original 12.9-inch iPad Pro (and the smaller variant as well), and it looks like Apple has ideas on how to change the next iteration of the keyboard.
Apple has recently filed a patent application for a new Smart Keyboard, which includes a few key changes when compared to the original version. As MacRumors outlines, this is not technically a design outline, so the keys in the image are replacing important options, like CAPS LOCK, but it does at least visualize what Apple may introduce in a second-generation Smart Keyboard.
First, a key with a magnifying glass printed on it. With this option, users would be able to press the button once and quickly call up a search within an app they were using. Double-pressing the same button, however, would allow the user to call up apps shortcuts for easy access. Finally, long-pressing the same magnifying glass button would activate Siri.
Another new button in place would be the “Share” function. With it, tapping the button would activate the Share sheet, and allow users to share what’s on their iPad’s display to things like Facebook, Telegram, Twitter, and more.
Finally, an Emoji hardware button, which would effectively call up the software page that allows access to the plethora of emoji to choose from. The current Smart Keyboard already has a key similar to this, emblazoned with a globe on it, so it’s not completely unheard of.
Rumor has it that Apple is working on three new iPad models, that could be unveiled sometime in early 2017, or could be launched later in the year. Apple’s also rumored to be working on an Apple Pencil 2, which could feature magnets to attach to the side of a future iPad Pro. It’s likely that Apple’s also working on a second-generation Smart Keyboard.