Sil­i­cone mem­brane un­der new MacBook Pros keys

Ap­ple has put a lit­tle dust cover over the but­ter­fly switches on its new MacBook Pro key­boards, re­veals Ja­son Cross

Macworld - - CONTENTS -

Leave it to the tear­down ex­perts at iFixit to fig­ure out what Ap­ple is do­ing to ad­dress re­li­a­bil­ity is­sues with its ‘but­ter­fly’ MacBook key­boards. The site has be­gun tear­ing down the new MacBook Pros – the ones with eighth­gen­er­a­tion In­tel Core pro­ces­sors – and it’s dis­cov­ered some­thing in­ter­est­ing un­der the keys. Cov­er­ing the but­ter­fly mech­a­nism is a very thin, flex­i­ble sil­i­cone mem­brane.

As iFixit notes, this ex­actly matches a re­cent Ap­ple patent for “ingress preven­tion for key­boards”.

That’s where the story gets in­ter­est­ing.

Ap­ple has told jour­nal­ists that the new third­gen­er­a­tion but­ter­fly key­board was not en­gi­neered specif­i­cally to ad­dress re­li­a­bil­ity is­sues: in­stead, it only in­tended to make them qui­eter. While the per­cent­age of fail­ing MacBook but­ter­fly key­boards may be rel­a­tively small, the sit­u­a­tion is at least bad enough that Ap­ple has had to im­ple­ment a free ser­vice program.

But iFixit can find no other ma­jor changes to the key­board that would make it qui­eter. If it was only en­gi­neered to be less clicky, Ap­ple could prob­a­bly em­ploy bet­ter meth­ods than this. And if the re­li­a­bil­ity is­sues are pri­mar­ily caused by tiny bits of dust get­ting wedged un­der the but­ter­fly mech­a­nism, im­ple­ment­ing its patented solution for ‘ingress preven­tion’ seems like the log­i­cal way to go.

In other words, Ap­ple is prob­a­bly try­ing to down­play any re­li­a­bil­ity prob­lems with its

key­boards, and is us­ing the fact that its new more re­li­able key­boards also hap­pen to be qui­eter as a con­ve­nient mar­ket­ing point. Af­ter all, say­ing it’s ‘more re­li­able’ im­plies that there’s a re­li­a­bil­ity prob­lem to be fixed in the first place.

If you’re hop­ing that the key­board ser­vice program may re­place your ear­lier model MacBook Pro key­board with the new sil­i­cone-mem­bra­nee­quipped third gen­er­a­tion, you’re prob­a­bly out of luck. MacRu­mors has con­firmed that the new key­boards are ex­clu­sive to the 2018 MacBook Pros, and your ear­lier model won’t be up­graded to the new key­board if you bring it in for re­pair.

Ap­ple’s got a patent for key­board ingress preven­tion that matches what iFixit found

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