Apple’s new MacBook Pro keyboards are slightly quieter than the ones found in the previous iteration of the laptop. But the company’s silence on the mechanism’s widespread mechanical issues, which Apple first acknowledged with a repair program last month, has left many scratching their heads and wondering if the new laptop’s largely unchanged keyboard is susceptible to dust and crumb contamination under the hood.
Now, iFixit says it’s uncovered something that indicates that the new MacBook Pro keyboards use a silicone membrane underneath each individual key to keep dirt and other unsavory particles from finding their way under the keyboard and locking it up. The repair organization dismantled a new 15-inch MacBook Pro keyboard to discover the new mechanism.
It bears a remarkable resemblance to an Apple patent that went public back in March. 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.
We won’t know for sure if this method is a successful solution to the MacBook keyboard gripes we’ve been hearing about for years now, since the company moved over to its new butterfly switch mechanism that debuted with the 2015 MacBook. But it does seem to illustrate that Apple is taking the issue seriously enough to implement a solution, even if it would rather not publicize the change and admit it had a bigger problem on its hands.