Apple's butterfly keyboard design has been plagued with issues since its debut, but it seems the company has finally thrown-in the towel. For those who aren't aware of the saga, the new keyboard was introduced with the now-discontinued 12-inch MacBook back in 2015 and has since spread to every MacBook model in the line-up.
When it introduced the new design, Apple claimed the individuals keys, which have a larger footprint and are positioned closer together than its previous scissor-mechanism keyboard, would prove easier to hit and result in more accurate typing.
Unfortunately, the low-travel and loud clackety noises from the keyboard means the design has garnered few passionate fans. Apple introduced a "new material" into the switch mechanism designed to quieten the keys and significantly reduce double or missed key presses – a common complaint with the design.
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But the most damning indictment of the butterfly keyboard is the reliability of the slimline keyboard. Apple apologised for the design after Wall Street Journal columnist Joanna Stern wrote an article about the keyboard without the "e" and "r" keys, which had failed on her MacBook Pro.
With the third-generation of the butterfly mechanism keyboard, Apple appears to have addressed some of the previous complaints with a thin mesh-like material to protect small debris getting wedged into the design.
But in an unprecedented move that shows a worrying lack of confidence in the fix, Apple has immediately added the latest generation MacBook Air and MacBook Pro to its extended warranty repair service.
According to oft-reliable analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, Apple is hard at work developing a new scissor-switch keyboard design for future MacBook Air and MacBook Pro models. Interestingly, Apple has never moved away from the scissor-switch design used on earlier MacBook Air and MacBook Pro notebooks on its desktop keyboards.
The updated notebook keyboard design will have much longer travel on the individual keys compared to the butterfly design, as well as improved durability thanks to glass fibre-reinforced keys, Ming-Chi Kuo told MacRumours.
The all-new keyboard is set to appear in a new MacBook later this year – possibly the long-rumoured 16-inch notebook with an edge-to-edge display. Over the next year, Apple will roll-out to all MacBook Air and MacBook Pro models, Kuo claims. As for the butterfly-style keyboard? It could disappear completely from the Apple Store in the long-term – like the hockey-puck mouse and other questionable designs from Sir Jony Ive and co.