Apple gives MacBook Pro keyboard rubber pants

Teardown drills into new design

Apple has applied a prophylactic to its butterfly MacBook Pro keyboard, teardown specialist iFixit discovered after taking apart a model from the refreshed line.

Apple said that the new range, announced last week, would get "an improved third-generation keyboard for quieter typing".

The teardown of the new Macbook Pro models, performed by the do-it-yourself repair gurus, showed what appeared to be a "thin, rubberised" layer between the keycap and the underlying butterfly switch mechanism.

As for the previous keyboard, some users - including at The Reg - found that Macbook keyboards were error-prone. Initially, Apple insisted some of the problems could be resolved by cleaning them with compressed air. But in June, Apple finally acknowledged problems with the design, offering a free replacement to users with problems.

"Apple has determined that a small percentage of the keyboards in certain MacBook and MacBook Pro models may exhibit one or more of the following behaviors: letters or characters repeat unexpectedly, letters or characters do not appear... [and] key(s) feel 'sticky' or do not respond in a consistent manner," it said at the time.

iFixit's Sam Lionheart opined that the "flexible enclosure" found in the refreshed keyboard could serve to "ingress-proof" the mechanism from the "daily onslaught of microscopic dust".

The DIY guru site also noted that a patent for a design involving a “guard structure extending from the key cap... [which] forms and maintains a seal between the key cap and the substrate base, foundation, or the like, blocking contaminant ingress” has been filed, although we cannot confirm that this is the structure observed in the teardown.

We've asked Apple for a comment.

It seems likely to El Reg that the rubber sheath might not only make typing a bit quieter but perhaps also make it less likely that crumbs work their way into the keyboard.

As we noted, Apple's professional laptops can often be found in unforgiving environments, such as field work. The company itself describes the Pro range as the most popular developer machine in the world. ®

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