The new Apple MacBook Pro keyboards are slightly quieter than those found in the previous version of the laptop. But the company's silence on the widespread mechanical problems of the mechanism, which Apple first recognized with a repair program last month, has left many scratching their heads and wondering if the largely unaltered keyboard of the new laptop is susceptible of dust and contamination by crumbs.
Now, iFixit says that something was discovered that indicates that the new MacBook Pro keyboards use a silicone membrane under each individual key to prevent dirt and other unpleasant particles from finding their way under the keyboard and blocking it. The repair organization dismantled a new 15-inch MacBook Pro keyboard to discover the new mechanism.
It has a striking resemblance to an Apple patent that went public in March. He described several methods for keyboard design that would prevent crumbs and dust from falling under the keys and causing mechanical problems. The methods describe the use of a "protective structure extending from the lid of the key" that would "channel" contaminants away from the sensitive parts of the keyboard. That protective structure could be separated from the base when it is in an uncompressed position and would not come into contact with the base, even when depressed due to a gasket in the middle.
The patent application continues by saying that the joint could comprise a layer of silicone that would act as a membrane. iFixit now says that 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 will not know for sure if this method is a successful solution to the problems with the keyboard of the MacBook that we have heard for years, as the company moved to its new mechanism of changing butterflies that debuted with the 2015 MacBook. But it seems to illustrate that Apple is taking the problem seriously enough to implement a solution, even if it prefers not to publicize the change and admit that it had a bigger problem on its hands.