The iPad’s hardware keyboard dock is the best hope for users looking to do serious writing on Apple’s latest device, but if a picture posted by MacRumors forum-goer macduke is anything to go by, it might also reveal some of the tablet’s still unannounced software capabilities.
Although the iPad keyboard dock is mostly similar to the Apple aluminum keyboard, the function keys have been replaced by various shortcut buttons. From left to right, these keys are: Home, Search, Brightness Down, Brightness Up, Photo Album, Keyboard Toggle, Blank, Skip Back, Play / Pause, Skip Forward, Mute, Volume Up, Volume Down and Lock Screen.
That all seems straight-forward enough, but it’s that Blank key above the 6 that is causing a flurry of speculation. Apple doesn’t leave blank function keys on its laptop keyboards, which the iPad’s keyboard dock is most similar to. Therefore, it seems hard to believe that Apple couldn’t think of a perfectly good use for that key.
Now, the image itself was initially posted over at iLounge, snapped at the January 27th iPad announcement. Is it possible that key is blank so as not to leak some yet-announced feature of the iPad? Say, a dashboard, or perhaps (even better) a multitasking app switch screen? No word from Apple yet… but we should know within a month.
Update: Reader Seth points out that there’s a lot of commentary on this exact same issue over at 9to5Mac.