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Microsoft launches ultra-thin Universal Foldable Keyboard

by Mark Tyson on 3 March 2015, 10:50

Quick Link: HEXUS.net/qacpmg

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Microsoft has announced a foldable version of its original cross-platform Universal Keyboard that was unveiled back in September. The Microsoft Universal Foldable Keyboard is designed to work with any iOS, Android or Windows device, just like the existing model, but folds neatly in half with magnets to keep it closed and compact.

Users will be able to pair the keyboard with two devices at a time via Bluetooth or via a microUSB cable, allowing them to quickly switch from typing on one gadget to another with the tap of a key. It comes with a battery which Microsoft claims to last for up to 3 months between charges, and is spill-resistant with a fabric exterior.

The upper array of function keys at the top of the non-folding model have been dropped into the main tray layout and include three function keys for audio control, search functionality, the aforementioned gadget focus switching and more. Micmrosoft's lightweight keyboard's portability might make up for the lack of stand functionality built-in for your tablet or phone. The Universal Foldable Keyboard is set to be released in July, priced rather high at $99.95.

Android tablet keyboard for Excel

In related news an Android app was unveiled by Microsoft Garage late last week, giving Excel users an optimised keyboard for use on tablet touch-screens. The soft-keyboard is designed specifically for Excel operators, featuring the most frequently used buttons placed prominently, a 10-key numpad layout found commonly on full-sized keyboards, as well as a Tab button for navigating across columns.

The keyboard app, which aims to deliver speed and efficiency to Android Excel users, can be downloaded via Google Play.



HEXUS Forums :: 7 Comments

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How come Microsoft can introduce stuff like this but ignore the X-Box one media center extender capability that has been under review since it's release.
Not a word on encryption/security? In almost all of the cases where this might be useful for my tablet or smart-phone (texts, web browsing, documentation etc.), I wouldn't want the data transmitted in the clear over Bluetooth. You'd think they'd make some nod towards security, I would've thought it'd be a major concern for something like this.

I must admit, I'm a bit behind on Bluetooth revisions (I barely use it, save for audio streaming); how secure is 4.1?
D-T
No information given on encryption/security? In almost all of the cases where this might be useful for my tablet or smart-phone (texts, web browsing, documentation etc.), I wouldn't want the data transmitted in the clear over Bluetooth.
I know what you're getting at, and I'm pretty sure that the answer is that there isn't any kind of encryption. It's for that reason that the security folks at my employer pretty much ban the use of Bluetooth keyboards, (which is partly why I'm using a Logitech “Unifying” setup - because this is encrypted). On the other hand the article does say:
sers will be able to pair the keyboard with two devices at a time via Bluetooth or via a microUSB cable, allowing them to quickly switch from typing on one gadget to another with the tap of a key.
so if your host device supports a MicroUSB-connected keyboard then at least you won't be broadcasting passwords etc.
D-T
Not a word on encryption/security? In almost all of the cases where this might be useful for my tablet or smart-phone (texts, web browsing, documentation etc.), I wouldn't want the data transmitted in the clear over Bluetooth. You'd think they'd make some nod towards security, I would've thought it'd be a major concern for something like this.

I must admit, I'm a bit behind on Bluetooth revisions (I barely use it, save for audio streaming); how secure is 4.1?

I think most of the security updates went into 2.1 with the later updates extending it to low power devices. Most of the security problems with Bluetooth have been with implementation issues rather than the core specification. Overall, BT is well studied and well understood from a security perspective, and has always had security built in which has been updated over the years.

For starters if someone wants to eavesdrop your BT keyboard then AIUI they need to constantly record all 80 Bluetooth radio channels to get the raw packets as without the pairing keys they won't know which channel the next packet is hopping out on. Frankly it is hard enough that they would be better off trying to provoke a man in the middle attack by somehow forcing you to re-pair. That would probably need a social engineering attack, and if they are that bothered then it would probably be easier to just break into your workplace and install some malware on your PC.

This is rather better than cheap wireless keyboards where encryption means eg xor-ing the data with the MAC address of the keyboard.

How sensitive is your text message that you think basic Bluetooth isn't enough?
This is news?

I had a folding full size keyboard for my Palm PDA, which compared to this was more compact and had a much smaller gap through the middle.