Here in the UK our keyboards are slightly different. Indeed, if you travel around the world a bit you’ll notice that keyboard layouts differ depending which country you’re in.
Differences between national keyboard layouts are mostly the placements of symbols on the character keys. Between the UK and the US it’s usually the placement of the “£” sign and the quotation marks as you can see below.
It might not seem like a big deal, but go into a web cafe where tourists are struggling to type and you’ll soon see the problems it throws up.
Indeed, if you’re in Germany or Austria, perhaps even Switzerland, you might be used to using the QWERTZ layout. However, if you have splashed out on a rather expensive iPad Pro you’ll quickly notice that the additional Smart Keyboard, which costs £139, is only available in the US keyboard layout. Here’s the screenshot from the UK website, although you’ll find a similar message in every non-US version of the site…
Now, it may surprise you, but I do partially understand. The keyboard I’m using right now is the standard UK one that I’m used to, but it’s a plug-in USB one which is connected to a PC. They probably sell millions of these things, and they’re relatively cheap to make, so offering the correct layout for your country isn’t too much of a problem. However, when we get something like a Bluetooth keyboard in to review then the layout is nearly always the standard US one. This is usually because the manufacturer wants to keep the costs down, resulting in you getting a well-priced gadget for typing on the move.
What I don’t get, though, is why Apple are choosing to force-feed us the US keyboard layout. Why, when a cherished iPad Pro customer, who could’ve already spent up to £899 buying the iPad Pro, are Apple charging £139 for a keyboard that they didn’t bother to localise? On the Macbook they at least put a pound sign on there (£), even though the speech mark (“) and @ symbols are still in the wrong place. They at least try to make it country-specific, even if they don’t go all the way.
No, what I don’t understand is why a company with $206 billion in the bank can’t offer up country-localised keyboards for customers who have already forked out quite a considerable sum of money. There’s no need to cut costs, there’s no need to only offer one model. Make a keyboard for people outside of the USA which is familiar and doesn’t end up with customers trying to find a new way of typing. When you’ve spent £139 on a keyboard, you shouldn’t have to then struggle to find the “£” symbol on it. I’m sorry, but I’ve paid over £1,000 for all the kit, I kinda expect it to be tailored to my country.
I know, I know, you might think I’m making a big deal of this, but just LOOK at all the keyboards Apple do for their Mac computers. LOOK AT THEM! There’s about 30 different types!
So, of you’re in Germany and want the Apple Smart Keyboard with the QWERTZ keyboard.. tough. If you want the Belgian one, hard cheese my friend. It’s the American layout and that’s it.