New MacBook Pro quietly fixes debris key saga tips leaked Apple doc | Computing
A leaked Apple service document has quietly conceded that the redesigned 2018 MacBook Pro keyboard is, indeed, intended to avoid the ongoing “sticky key” controversy, not just reduce noise. The third-generation ‘board was billed by Apple as a fix for just how much sound its homegrown key mechanism produces when typed on.
However, it denied making the changes in order to address ongoing complaints by some MacBook Pro owners that their keyboards were prone to breaking down. The butterfly mechanism was Apple's play to make the keys more tactile and stable, while also reducing the amount of key travel required. That would in turn reduce the depth of the whole keyboard tray, opening the door to overall thinner notebooks.
Key feel proved divisive, but more troubling has been issues some MacBook Pro owners have experienced. Keys can either stick, fail to recognize presses, or produce multiple characters even when only hit once. If compressed air can't dislodge any detritus from under the key, the only real fix is a professional repair – typically involving keyboard replacement – by an Apple service center.
According to leaked internal 2018 MacBook Pro Service Readiness Guides, obtained by MacRumors, the newly-added membrane which teardowns of the refreshed notebook revealed is absolutely there for more than just sound-deadening. In the Canadian and European versions of the guide, for instance, the membrane is specifically called out for helping keep the butterfly mechanism free of obstructions.
“The keyboard has a membrane under the keycaps to prevent debris from entering the butterfly mechanism,” the guides explain. In the US version of the guide the reference is absent, though a separate internal document which details the process for keycap replacement does flag it.
“The keyboard has a membrane under the keycaps to prevent debris from entering the butterfly mechanism,” the replacement guide explains. “Be careful not to tear the membrane. A torn membrane will result in a top case replacement.”
The silicone membrane has been something Apple has been working on for a couple of years, in fact. The company filed a patent for the system in 2016, for example. Publicly, though, it has demurred on confirming that the design is intended to make the keyboard more resilient to crumbs and other small particles that can work their way under the keys.
However, it's notably excluded the third-generation butterfly keyboard from the service program announced in June. That offers MacBook and MacBook Pro owners with faulty second-generation butterfly keys free repairs. Apple maintains that only a very small percentage of notebooks are actually affected.