Third time's the charm? Don't hold your breath if you're hoping Apple has fixed its keyboard woes

Does the new "third-generation" Apple keyboard fix the woes of the first two generations? (Source: Apple)
Does the new "third-generation" Apple keyboard fix the woes of the first two generations? (Source: Apple)
"Issue? What issue?" This is apparently Apple's take on the keyboard issues that have been plaguing its MacBook Pro models. Despite releasing new MacBook Pro models with a "third-generation" butterfly mechanism, Apple says the revision is focused on reducing noise, not improving reliability.
Sanjiv Sathiah,

Now that Apple's new 2018 MacBook Pros have landed with the latest Intel 'Coffee Lake' quad-core, hexa-core chips and AMD 'Polaris' GPUs on board, the one question that everyone is asking is whether Apple has finally addressed the keyboard issues plaguing previous generations? Sadly, the answer appears to be no, if what Apple has told The Verge is any guide. Although the keyboard mechanism in the 2018 MacBook Pros features the "third-generation" of Apple's custom butterfly mechanism design, the refinements are said to focus solely on reducing the noise they make during typing.

In addition to the reliabiity woes that have plagued both first-generation and second-generation butterfly mechanism based keyboards, customers have also complained about the "clickity-clackety" noise that the first two generations of the butterfly mechanism make when typing on them. Having recently sat in on a classroom of students using the second-generation 13-inch MacBook Pros, I can testify that I've never heard such a cacophany. Reducing the sound made when typing on the butterfly mechanism is definitely a step forward.

But what of the keyboard failures that Apple has formally addressed with its recently launched Keyboard Service Program, which covers any newly purchased MacBook Pro model designed between 2015 and 2017? According to The Verge, "company representatives strenuously insisted that the keyboard issues have only affected a tiny, tiny fraction of its user base." What this appears to suggest is that, despite the launch of the keyboard service program, Apple doesn't seem to think that the problem with its butterfly mechanism-based keyboards warrants a special redesign that focuses on addressing these issues. Its keyboard service program, thus far, does not apply to the new 2018 models, but still applies to the 13-inch non-Touch Bar MacBook Pro with second-generation butterfly mechanism that it continues to sell.

The new 2018 MacBook Pros are the first truly "Pro" level notebooks Apple has released in recent years, but it will be very interesting to see if reports of keyboard failures continue to plague this new generation of MacBook Pros as well, and what, if anything, Apple will do to get on top of the issue once and for all. Based on Apple's lack of haste in producing a second-generation iPad Pro Smart Keyboard design (which is similarly subject to an extended warranty service program dating back to mid last year), we certainly aren't holding our collective breath.


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> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > News > News Archive > Newsarchive 2018 07 > Third time's the charm? Don't hold your breath if you're hoping Apple has fixed its keyboard woes
Sanjiv Sathiah, 2018-07-13 (Update: 2018-07-13)
Sanjiv Sathiah
I have been tech-obsessed from the time my father introduced me to my first computer, an Apple ][. Since then, I have grown to enjoy exploring and experimenting with any computing platform that I can get my hands on – I am the definitive early adopter! I have always been interested in how we can use technology to shape and improve our lives, most recently using it to record, mix and master my debut record, Acuity – Nature | Nurture out now on Spotify.