With New 16-Inch MacBook Pro, Apple Wants Consumers to Forget About Its Keyboard Woes. Will They?

November 13, 2019, 7:43 PM UTC

For four years, some Apple laptops have come with defective keyboards that needed fixing. With its new 16-inch MacBook Pro laptop, unveiled on Wednesday, the tech giant hopes to win back skeptical consumers.

The laptop comes with what Apple calls the Magic Keyboard. “Magic,” in this case, refers to the not so magical technology in keyboards that uses a scissor-like movement to recognize when users press the keys—something that Apple and other companies have offered for years.

The new MacBook Pro’s keyboard also uses a rubber dome, a common keyboard feature, that makes keys more responsive when uses type. It even comes with an escape key, a feature Apple had stripped from previous MacBook Pro models.

It’s not often that a laptop keyboard gets so much attention. But after spending years trying and failing to produce a glitch-free keyboard, Apple’s latest attempt is in the spotlight.

Apple’s keyboard problems began in 2015, when it unveiled its now-notorious “butterfly keyboard” for MacBooks. The keyboard earned its name from a mechanism under each key that, when pressed, resembled a butterfly’s wings flapping. Apple said the design was a major step forward in keyboard technology.

Instead, users quickly discovered that keys would malfunction if dust got under them. In some cases, the keys wouldn’t even respond when pressed.

In the ensuing years, Apple announced several “improvements” to its keyboards, like a rubber stopper to protect them against dust. But those efforts failed to make much of a difference.

Apple eventually acknowledged problems with its butterfly keyboard and started a free repair program for any of its laptops with the flaw. Still, last year, customers filed a class-action lawsuit against Apple for its defective keyboards.

With the latest MacBook Pro, reporters who have reviewed the new laptop, which will be available later this week starting at $2,399, are so far positive. They say that the Magic Keyboard may actually be problem free.

Daring Fireball’s John Gruber wrote on Wednesday that “it feels a bit silly to be excited about” keyboards “that function reliably and feel good when you type with them. But, he concluded, “that’s where we are.”

“This is what their modern MacBook keyboards should have been like all along,” Gruber said.

Technology news site The Verge also tried out the 16-inch MacBook Pro ahead of its official release. The site quickly noted that the notebook “has a good keyboard.”

In an interview with Fortune on Wednesday, Creative Strategies analyst Tim Bajarin said that Apple’s new laptop “seems to fix the problems of the older keyboards.” He added that there is “pent-up demand” among professional users who have held off from buying a new Mac until the company unveiled a higher-end MacBook Pro, and that the positive reviews about the MacBook Pro’s keyboard may get them to buy one.

Forrester analyst Frank Gillett says Apple was clearly thinking about fixing the keyboard problem for the MacBook Pro’s release. The company, he says, wanted to get it right so as to be able to move on from the previous controversy.

“They’ve done a bunch of work on keyboards over the years and they’re saying we finally did our homework and this should be noticeably better,” Gillett says.

But don’t expect any keyboard improvements to have much impact on sales, Consumer Intelligence Research Partners analyst Michael Levin says.

“Apple [is] just keeping up with developments of what we all know is a mature laptop marketplace,” Levin says.

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