My new iPad pro

I just transitioned to another iPad. When I first got one of these, the main reason was to see if I could make a case for it. But since that original iPad, I’ve grown completely dependent on these things. TheĀ casesĀ are surprisingly challenging, because the goal is to make them very simple but functional. The main design goal is to “humanize” the experience of using an iPad. We now live our lives with iThings everywhere, and I find that the nice smooth shiny metal and plastic is hard and not the most pleasant experience to hold and to use. I’ve now made probably 50 cases over the years for iPads and their relatives, and these cases will outlast their devices by probably 100 years or more if they are not thrown away with the obsolete devices. (note that I really have no idea what to do with an old iPad case for a device that is no longer made and doesn’t work, but at least my contribution won’t wear out very fast…)

iPad pro with keyboard and pencil

My 2 generation old iPad air still worked but was getting slow. More important, I like to take handwritten notes, and I hate to keep track of all my paper notebooks for various topics. I never seem to have the right notebook when I need it. For a few years I’ve been experimenting with various note-taking apps and styluses. Nothing was perfect, but I did find an app that I like (Notes Plus). I never found a stylus that I was happy with. So, I decided to try the new iPad pro with an Apple pencil. While I was at it, I figured I’d give the keyboard a try, because I travel a lot for work and always need to haul my laptop with me. Maybe the new iPad and keyboard could take its place.

After almost 2 weeks with the iPad pro, keyboard, and pencil, I can say that I really love them. I’ve taken about 20 pages of handwritten notes at a few meetings that I’ve attended, and I’ve used the keyboard to type some documents. They work great. The problem is that they are hard and shiny and (in my opinion) not a very satisfying way of working.

The problem is that my old iPad cases would be a pain to use with the keyboard, because the iPad would always need to be pulled out of the case and then put back in when I’m done. And there is no place to put the pencil (which has no clip to hold it in a shirt pocket…) Therefore, I decided to make a “slipper”, similar to a design I made for an iPhone a few years ago. The front was an afterthought, and I realized that you could use it with or without the front piece by just cutting a flat no-frills piece of leather (all from kangaroo) that could be sandwiched behind the iPad if you want it or taken out if not. Both the front and the back are single, thin kangaroo, so they are light and compact. And you can take them off very easily and quickly.

But what about the pencil and keyboard? I couldn’t put these onto this minimal slipper, so the next best solution was to use my old “simple satchel” to keep everything. I love this bag and use it for most of my trips. It holds a small laptop or iPad, sunglasses, pens, etc. All the components for the new iPad fit just right, and I can either use the iPad with the cover or take it off to use the keyboard.

New design in the works for a hand-held case

But it would still be nice to have a solution to carry in my hand like a portfolio. I’m working on a design that should be similar to my old iPad covers but a bit bulkier. I’ll report back when I have a chance to finish this. At the rate I’ve been able to work in the shop, there will be a new iPad release before I get a chance to finish the prototype…


Author: edisonleatherworks

I'm a biochemistry professor and leatherworker who likes bicycles, travel, art, education, and music. Walking is my favorite form of transportation, and I regularly practice Tai Chi.

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