MacBook keyboard failures could end with introduction of glass panel keyboards

“Future Apple keyboards in MacBooks may not be affected by dust or other foreign elements that could affect its switch mechanism, with the possibility of being replaced by a glass panel with raised ‘key’ sections that acts as a rigid keyboard,” Malcolm Owen reports for AppleInsider. “Chicklet-style notebook keyboards, like the ones used in the MacBook lineup, can easily be stopped from working efficiently if dust, crumbs, or liquids enter under the keys and impact the mechanism.”

“Even so, Apple is considering ways to eliminate the problem,,” Owen reports. “Published on Thursday by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, the patent application for the simply-named ‘Computer with keyboard’ that effectively describes how a keyboard could be created without moving components. In Apple’s proposal, a glass sheet would be used in place of the movable keys, with raised sections to denote where each key is located.”

“The use of raised keys would enable the proposed keyboard to offer a form of tactile feedback to users, allowing users to know exactly where their fingers are placed in relation to the center of each key,” Owen reports. “To provide a level of springiness similar to a normal key’s deflection, Apple suggests the use of a raised side wall around the raised key region, which can be configured to deform on input.”

Read more, and see Apple’s patent application illustrations, in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Last August, Motherboard‘s Ernie Smith wrote that Apple should remake the mechanical keyboard. It looks like they’re trying to do just that!

BTW: We use Apple keyboards on our desks and love them! The Magic Keyboard and the Magic Keyboard with Numeric Keypad are both excellent scissor-mechanism keyboards.

SEE ALSO:
Apple should remake the mechanical keyboard – August 6, 2018

13 Comments

    1. @Bill

      No one does. Ever since the powerbooks were introduced back in 1991, Jobs spent two decades creating the perfect laptop keyboard. Then Cook killed it because it cost more to keep around than his cheap substitute. Every thing comes down to cents with this guy.

      If you want the best iPhone, buy the iPhone X.

      Why???

      It has the highest BOM of any iPhone in Apple history. That’s because in Cook’s effort to rush this to market, he had less time to penny pinch the bill of materials for it, and because of the new tech used, suppliers had the upper hand for the firsr time.

      You guessed it… that’s why he killed it ASAP.

      The iPhone X has a better screen and superior components than even the XS and XS Max, so go buy one before they’re gone.

      Your’re welcome.

  1. Personally, I always rest my fingers on the keys. I don’t think I could ever get accostumed to a touch keyboard. After experiencing such an affront to human nature with the first generation Surface touch cover, I will never go back to that tech again – whether it is based on a raised glass surface or not.

    BTW, I enjoy the using the 3rd generation butterfly keyboard on my MacBook Air (retina).

  2. To me this sounds like another disaster in the making apple needs to go back to the original keyboard which consistently worked. My 2017 MacBook Pro is the worst machine I’ve ever owned already having to had the keyboard replaced twice. I never had this issue with any of my other keyboards. The second time it was repaired I sent it into Apple directly and they have fixed it for now. I have no faith that this issue will not continue to happen. For me personally I will never buy another MacBook Pro as long as these keyboards exist I’ve had enough.

  3. I know it’s rather ‘old’ tech but what’s wrong with simply buying one of those fitted silicon keyboard overlays to prevent the large majority of dust from entering the keyboard? Apple sure loves their accessories so it should be a no-brainer for them. Or maybe the margins are too small for them to bother with and would eat into keyboard servicing fees. 😛

    1. You’re suggesting that people take some part in the care and upkeep of their devices?!? NO, I was able to eat the crumbliest of crumbly foods over my manual typewriter with no ill effects and I expect that of ALL KEYBOARDS!!

  4. Been typing on glass keyboards since iPad introduction in 2010.
    Have no issues after years of using these.
    Looks like we have a lot of old schoolers whining and moaning.
    No one gave the iOS virtual software keyboard a real chance/shot.
    A lot of laziness in trying to learn to use a new tool by old school hardware users
    I am now 55 years old.
    The hardware mouse and keyboard have been around, at least this long.
    Technology needs to move away from these 50 year old paradigms.
    My younger family relatives have no issues typing on just the iPad, alone.
    They are actually a lot faster on the iOS virtual keyboard than I am.
    I took me some time to get proficient/efficient typing on glass, but once you do, it’s not very difficult to adapt.
    The new “key flick” style software virtual keyboards ( either Apple’s or third party virtual keyboard app developers) make inputting punctuation and diacritics much easier and faster, as well.
    As Yoda from “Star Wars-The Empire Strikes Back” would say,
    “You must unlearn what you have learned.”

    1. “Technology needs to move away from these 50 year old paradigms.”

      “NEEDS” to? Why? Nothing wrong with wheels, levers and shovels. Just because a technology is old, doesn’t mean it MUST be changed. Sometimes, with the artifically created desperation for constant newness, it’s a matter of a solution for a non-existent problem.

      Is every increment of change of toothbrushes and razors better? I don’t think so.

      I’d like to see actual studies, if any exist. Anyone know?

  5. Mac user since 1988;
    No matter whether the computers are Mac or Windows; the new flat keyboards are terrible. The older keyboards in all computers which I refer to as “tall key” keyboards are far better in terms of typing accuracy. The edges of each key are too close to each other, creating the situation where an individual finger can accidentally touch an adjacent key. It is far easier to mistype a letter, and in many cases cause the cursor to jump back as much as a partial line of text, 10-20 characters or even to the previous line. Irritating at best. It seems to occur frequently on the “A”key. If you inadvertently nudge the side of the key, it can cause the problem described. It uses the left hand little finger which seems to be the weakest in most people.

    I work in a school system with 9000 computers and the computer labs in the 23 schools confirm the problem. It did not happen to nearly this extent with the old “tall key” keyboards.

    No question that the current generation of students cannot spell nearly as well as previous generations, that has been a trend for 20 years, and the over-reliance on spell check without the student knowing that the spell check might be wrong in individual cases adds to it. They assume the spell check must be right because of lack of spelling knowledge, which I could correct, but I don’t run the school system and am not the students parent.

    I still have one old Apple tall key keyboard, but it is not available anymore and I have one tall key Microsoft keyboard. Both are a pleasure to use compared to flat key keyboards, and this is validated by the comments from the computer lab teachers. But their perfectly good tall key Microsoft keyboards were scrapped based upon a contract schedule as opposed to useability.

    I have a 2015 21 inch iMac, a 2017 Macbook Pro, and a 2011 Macbook. The 2011 Macbook has the most accurate keyboard of the 3, easily, and its 8 years old. The student sitting beside me during the day is on a 2018 HP laptop with the flat key keyboard and he has the same complaint of extreme oversensitivity of the keys and the too close spacing of the keys. I have done the Preference adjustments to lower the sensitivity on my two newer Macs, have to see if I can do the same for the HP.

    This is a real problem, sorry to not be a cheerleader.

    1. Mac user since 1992… or 1987 if you count school computers.

      Learned on the tall keyboards, but my sweet spot is the “chiclet” keyboards introduced with the Macbooks in 2006. My typing speed is consistently faster on these than the “tall” keyboards.

      The even thinner ones introduced in 2016 are too thin for me. There’s a reason why the current Magic Keyboard series have not gotten even thinner, the super-thin ones don’t have enough travel and are too easily compromised.

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