Apple’s New MacBook Pros Use Silicon to Protect the Keyboard

This past week, Apple unveiled its latest lineup of MacBook Pros, complete with upgraded specs, True Tone displays, and an improved keyboard. That last feature was especially appreciated by owners of previous-generation Pros which suffered from major keyboard problems that, in some cases, would disable an entire keyboard due to a crumb or piece of lint getting underneath a single key. For the latest third-generation butterfly keyboard, Apple is taking necessary precautions to prevent a problem like this from happening in the future, according to a discovery made by iFixit.

Photo credit: iFixit

As the site does often with lots of new devices that hit the market, iFixit bought a 15-inch MacBook Pro and began to tear it down. As they were doing so, they popped off a key to learn more about the new mechanism in place, and to their surprise, they found a silicon membrane that’s being used to prevent dirt and other foreign objects from getting below the keys. The membrane is found under each key on the keyboard and is also likely the reason the keyboard is noticeably quieter than before.

Here’s an inflammatory take for you: Apple’s new quieter keyboard is actually a silent scheme 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.

iFixit goes on to note how the silicon component isn’t, in fact, a method of making the keyboard quieter but a simple safety measure to combat dust and other particles.

This flexible enclosure is quite obviously an ingress-proofing measure to cover up the mechanism from the daily 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.”

You can watch iFixit’s full summary of the feature in the video below.

It isn’t clear how effective this precaution will be in guarding the keyboard against unwanted objects so we’ll have to see how it plays out over time. For now, though, at least Apple’s paying attention to users’ complaints.