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Zagg Slim Book Go review: An affordable and versatile keyboard for Apple’s iPad Pro Review

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Apple’s iPad Pro is the best tablet I’ve ever used, even with its software shortcomings. It’s incredibly close to being a full computer replacement for me, and likely already is for many others.

A critical part of turning the iPad Pro into more than just a touchscreen device is the addition of a keyboard. Without a keyboard, typing on the iPad Pro’s software keyboard is feasible, but it takes up screen space and doesn’t lend itself to typing out longer documents.

Apple offers a $200 keyboard for the iPad Pro, but it’s pricey and only serves one purpose (though it does that very well). Zagg’s Slim Book Go, on the other hand, is a more versatile keyboard accessory for iPad Pro users. And at $129, it’s more reasonably priced.

For the past few weeks, I’ve been using the Slim Book Go designed for the 12.9-inch iPad Pro. Zagg also offers smaller, even cheaper versions of the Slim Book Go for the different iPad models.  

Design


Screenshot by Jason Cipriani/ZDNet

Zagg’s Slim Book Go keyboard is actually more than just a keyboard. There are two parts: A durable case and a detachable keyboard. The entire setup measures 11.5 x 9.6 x 0.8 inches and adds a decent amount of weight to the iPad Pro. Compare that to Apple’s Smart Keyboard Folio, which adds very little in size and weight to the iPad Pro overall.

The Slim Book Go is designed to be used in multiple situations, which determines how you use it. For drawing sessions and more tablet-like usage, removing the keyboard and leaving it behind is best. For scenarios where a laptop-like setup is required, attach the keyboard and hammer away on the keyboard.

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It’s the versatility of the keyboard/case combo that sets it apart from Apple’s own solution.

The keyboard itself has full-sized keys, similar to what you’d find on a laptop. The top row of keys are dedicated shortcuts for common iOS tasks and controls, such as triggering Spotlight search or control the iPad’s current volume levels. The keys are backlit, with seven different colors.

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Screenshot by Jason Cipriani/ZDNet

Shortcut keys are something I’ve longed for from Apple’s Smart Keyboard cover. Instead of having to move my hands from the keyboard to use Control Center to adjust the volume or play the next song in a playlist, I can press the respective shortcut key and keep working.

As for the case, the iPad Pro sits snuggly inside it. There’s a cutout for the Apple Pencil to magnetically attach to the iPad Pro for charging, or a pocket on the opposite side to securely hold the pencil when needed. On the back of the case is a kickstand that folds out, providing multiple viewing angles.

I found the kickstand to be sturdy in that it will hold the iPad Pro at the angle you move it to, but there’s a bit of bounce to the screen whenever you begin tapping and swiping across it. And if you leave the keyboard attached to the case when typing, the screen is constantly bouncing. It’s distracting to be looking at a screen that’s slightly moving as you type. Detaching the keyboard from the case removes the movement as I type, but it’s still there when using the iPad Pro’s touch interface.

The Slim Book Go uses Bluetooth to connect to the iPad Pro and can connect to two different devices at the same time. Zagg positions this as an option for those who want to connect to the iPad Pro and, when needed, switch to a smartphone. I’m not sure how many people will actually do that, but it’s there in case you find that to be an important feature. I didn’t use it during my time with the keyboard — simply because anything that I would want to reply to on my iPhone is also on the iPad Pro.

Performance

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Jason Cipriani/ZDNet

Initial setup requires pairing the keyboard to the iPad Pro. The pairing process is straight-forward for anyone who is familiar with pairing a Bluetooth device to the tablet. Charing is done via a USB-C cable, the same type of cable used to charge the iPad Pro.

Battery life for the Slim Book Go, according to the company, is one year. That’s with one hour of use per day, with the backlight enabled. I didn’t have enough time to test out that claim, but I didn’t have any issues with the keyboard’s battery draining during my use. I also didn’t see a significant increase in battery use of the iPad Pro due to using a Bluetooth connection instead of the Smart Connector that Apple uses for the Smart Keyboard Folio.

Typing on the keyboard was a breeze. I didn’t really have to adjust to the key size or layout. The keys responded and bounced back without any issues, although they are quite loud. I thought the clicking-clack of the Smart Keyboard Folio was bad, then I started using the Slim Book Go. It’s not a deal breaker at all, but it is something to keep in mind.

Should you buy one?

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Jason Cipriani/ZDNet

I like the durability and flexibility of the Slim Book Go. The $129 keyboard does more than just offer a keyboard with a layer of protection. The standalone case feels rugged, if not a bit bulky. The stand is versatile, as is the keyboard with multiple connections and shortcut keys.

Personally, I prefer Apple’s Smart Keyboard Cover. However, I see the appeal of the Slim Book Go, and for those who want added protection with added productivity, it’s a solid choice.

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Twitter unveils Birdwatch – TechCrunch

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Twitter pilots a new tool to fight disinformation, Apple brings celebrity-guided walks to the Apple Watch and Clubhouses raises funding. This is your Daily Crunch for January 25, 2021.

The big story: Twitter unveils Birdwatch

Twitter launched a new product today that it says will offer “a community-based approach to misinformation.”

With Birdwatch, users will be able to flag tweets that they find misleading, write notes to add context to those tweets and rate the notes written by others. This is supposed to be a complement to the existing system where Twitter removes or labels particularly problematic tweets, rather than a replacement.

What remains to be seen: How Twitter will handle it when two or more people get locked into a battle and post a flurry of conflicting notes about whether a tweet is misleading or not.

The tech giants

Walking with Dolly — Apple discusses how and why it brought Time to Walk to the Watch.

Google pledges grants and facilities for COVID-19 vaccine programs — The tech giant is one of several large corporations that have pledged support to local government agencies and medical providers to help increase vaccinations.

Facebook will give academic researchers access to 2020 election ad targeting data — Starting next month, Facebook will open up academic access to a data set of 1.3 million political and social issue ads.

Startups, funding and venture capital

Clubhouse announces plans for creator payments and raises new funding led by Andreessen Horowitz — While we try to track down the actual value of this round, Clubhouse has confirmed it will be introducing products to help creators on the platform get paid.

Taboola is going public via SPAC — The transaction is expected to close in the second quarter, and the combined company will trade on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol TBLA.

Wolt closes $530M round to continue expanding beyond restaurant delivery — The Helsinki-based online ordering and delivery company initially focused on restaurants but has since expanded to other verticals.

Advice and analysis from Extra Crunch

Qualtrics raises IPO pricing ahead of debut — After being acquired by SAP, Qualtrics announced it would spin out as its own public company.

Fintechs could see $100 billion of liquidity in 2021 — The Matrix Fintech Index weighs public markets, liquidity and a new e-commerce trend.

Unpacking Chamath Palihapitiya’s SPAC deals for Latch and Sunlight Financial — There’s no escaping SPACs, at least for a little while.

(Extra Crunch is our membership program, which helps founders and startup teams get ahead. You can sign up here.)

Everything else

Moderna says it’s making variant-specific COVID-19 vaccines, but its existing vaccine should still work — Moderna has detailed some of the steps it’s taking to ensure that its vaccine remains effective in the face of emerging strains of the SARS-CoV-2 virus that leads to COVID-19.

Original Content podcast: ‘Bridgerton’ is an addictive reimagining of Jane Austen-style romance — Did I mention that the cast is insanely good-looking?

The Daily Crunch is TechCrunch’s roundup of our biggest and most important stories. If you’d like to get this delivered to your inbox every day at around 3pm Pacific, you can subscribe here.

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Debunk, don’t ‘prebunk,’ and other psychology lessons for social media moderation – TechCrunch

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If social networks and other platforms are to get a handle on disinformation, it’s not enough to know what it is — you have to know how people react to it. Researchers at MIT and Cornell have some surprising but subtle findings that may affect how Twitter and Facebook should go about treating this problematic content.

MIT’s contribution is a counter-intuitive one. When someone encounters a misleading headline in their timeline, the logical thing to do would be to put a warning before it so that the reader knows it’s disputed from the start. Turns out that’s not quite the case.

In a study of nearly 3,000 people who evaluated the accuracy of headlines after receiving different (or no) warnings about them.

Going into the project, I had anticipated it would work best to give the correction beforehand, so that people already knew to disbelieve the false claim when they came into contact with it. To my surprise, we actually found the opposite,” said study co-author David Rand in an MIT news article. “Debunking the claim after they were exposed to it was the most effective.”

When a person was warned beforehand that the headline was misleading, they improved in their classification accuracy by 5.7 percent. When the warning came simultaneously with the headline, that improvement grew to 8.6 percent. But if shown the warning afterwards, they were 25 percent better. In other words, debunking beat “prebunking” by a fair margin.

The team speculated as to the cause of this, suggesting that it fits with other indications that people are more likely to incorporate feedback into a preexisting judgment rather than alter that judgment as it’s being formed. They warned that the problem is far deeper than a tweak like this can fix.

“There is no single magic bullet that can cure the problem of misinformation,” said co-author Adam Berinsky. “Studying basic questions in a systematic way is a critical step toward a portfolio of effective solutions.”

The study from Cornell is equal parts reassuring and frustrating. People viewing potentially misleading information were reliably influenced by the opinions of large groups — whether or not those groups were politically aligned with the reader.

It’s reassuring because it suggests that people are willing to trust that if 80 out of 100 people thought a story was a little fishy, even if 70 of those 80 were from the other party, there might just be something to it. It’s frustrating because of how seemingly easy it is to sway an opinion simply by saying that a large group thinks it’s one way or the other.

“In a practical way, we’re showing that people’s minds can be changed through social influence independent of politics,” said graduate student Maurice Jakesch, lead author of the paper. “This opens doors to use social influence in a way that may de-polarize online spaces and bring people together.”

Partisanship still played a role, it must be said — people were about 21 percent less likely to have their view swayed if the group opinion was led by people belonging to the other party. But even so people were very likely to be affected by the group’s judgment.

Part of why misinformation is so prevalent is because we don’t really understand why it’s so appealing to people, and what measures reduce that appeal, among other simple questions. As long as social media is blundering around in darkness they’re unlikely to stumble upon a solution, but every study like this makes a little more light.

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Twitter’s Birdwatch fights misinformation with community notes – TechCrunch

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Twitter is launching what it calls “a community-based approach to misinformation.”

The Birdwatch project first came to light last fall thanks to product sleuth Jane Manchun Wong. Now Twitter has launched a pilot version via the Birdwatch website.

The goal, as explained in a blog post by Twitter’s Vice President of Product Keith Coleman, is to expand beyond the labels that the company already applies to controversial or potentially misleading tweets, which he suggested are limited to “circumstances where something breaks our rules or receives widespread public attention.”

Coleman wrote that the Birdwatch approach will “broaden the range of voices that are part of tackling this problem.” That has brings a broader range of perspectives to these issues and goes beyond the simple question of, “Is this tweet true or not?” It may also take some of the heat off Twitter for individual content moderation decisions.

Users can sign up on the Birdwatch site to flag tweets that they find misleading, add context via notes and rate the notes written by other contributors, based on whether they’re helpful or not. These notes will only be visible on the Birdwatch site for now, but it sounds like the company’s goal is to incorporate them to the main Twitter experience.

“We believe this approach has the potential to respond quickly when misleading information spreads, adding context that people trust and find valuable,” Coleman said. “Eventually we aim to make notes visible directly on Tweets for the global Twitter audience, when there is consensus from a broad and diverse set of contributors.”

Given the potential for plenty of argument and back-and-froth on contentious tweets, it remains to be seen how Twitter will present these notes in a way that isn’t confusing or overwhelming, or how it can avoid weighing in on some of these arguments. The company said Birdwatch will use rank content based on algorithmic “reputation and consensus systems,” with the code shared publicly. (All notes contributed to Birdwatch will also be available for download.) You read more about the initial ranking system here.

“We know there are a number of challenges toward building a community-driven system like this — from making it resistant to manipulation attempts to ensuring it isn’t dominated by a simple majority or biased based on its distribution of contributors,” Coleman said. “We’ll be focused on these things throughout the pilot.”

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