Here’s an inflammatory take for you: Apple’s new quieter keyboard is actually a conspiracy to fix their keyboard reliability issues. We’re in the middle of tearing down the newest MacBook Pro, but we’re too excited to hold this particular bit of news back:
Apple has cocooned their butterfly switches in a thin, silicone barrier.
This flexible enclosure is quite obviously an ingress-proofing measure to prevent the mechanism from seizing up under the brutal onslaught of microscopic dust. Not—to our eyes—a silencing measure. In fact, Apple has a patent for this exact tech designed to “prevent and/or alleviate contaminant ingress.”
Nick Statt at The Verge has more on that patent:
It described various methods for keyboard design that would prevent crumbs and dust from getting underneath the keys and causing mechanical issues. The methods describe using a “guard structure extending from the key cap” that would “funnel” contaminants away from the sensitive portions of the keyboard. That guard structure could be separated from the base when in an undepressed position and that it would not make contact with the base even when depressed due to a gasket sitting in between.
The patent application goes on to say that the gasket could comprise of a layer of silicone that would act as a membrane. iFixit now says that’s exactly what the new MacBook Pro keyboard contains, and that the sound of the keyboard is quieter as a side effect of the silicone membrane.
If this works as we can assume it designed to work, this is very good news.