Apple admits third-gen MacBook keyboard fails too
Apple once made the best of just about everything when it came to consumer technology. Even if you didn’t like the company itself, you couldn’t fault Apple design, build quality and engineering expertise. Sadly, this is no longer the case, particularly when it comes to the troublesome butterfly mechanism that it first introduced in 2015. It was a design to solution to a problem that didn’t exist and Apple has paid dearly for it in terms of its reputation, particularly when it comes to its flagship MacBook line.
Joanna Stern of the Wall Street Journal has written a satirical article on her new generation MacBook Air typed with the E and R keys failing to actuate (see below), causing the issue to hilariously rear its ugly head once again -- Apple issued this short statement in response:
“We are aware that a small number of users are having issues with their third-generation butterfly keyboard and for that we are sorry. The vast majority of Mac notebook customers are having a positive experience with the new keyboard.”
For a company with all of the resources that Apple has at its disposal, the mind boggles that it just can’t get this right. The butterfly mechanism is supposed to make the keys more stable to type on, but also lowers the key profile helping enable the design of even thinner devices. The third-generation design introduced a thin rubber membrane to help stop the dust and debris from causing malfunctions — even then though, Apple disingenuously claimed it was only introduced help make typing quieter. However, incredibly, the problem persists suggesting that there is a fundamental design issue with Apple’s custom-designed butterfly mechanism.
Apple, as we all know, has been on a relentless pursuit of thinness under the direction of its design chief Jony Ive and this is not the first time this fixation has caused problems. The recently redesigned iPad Pro line has been exposed for bending all too easily, harking back to the original “Bendgate” issues experienced by iPhone 6 Plus owners. With the failure of the third-generation butterfly mechanism to completely address the reliability issues, we wonder if Apple will finally throw in the towel on the design.
After all, it also redesigned the traditional scissor mechanism on the Magic Keyboard to be more stable as well and there have been no complaints with that design of which we are aware. It is more similar to the types of keyboard Apple fitted to MacBooks pre-2015, has better travel and is more comfortable to type on as a result.
As for owners of post-2015 MacBooks, there is Apple has launched an official Keyboard Service Program to address issues including letters or characters that repeat unexpectedly, letters of characters that do not appear and keys that feel sticky or don’t respond. It hasn’t yet updated this to include models with the third-gen keyboard, but we will update when it does.