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An ode to Apple’s awful MacBook keyboard (techcrunch.com)
178 points by bprasanna on Sept 3, 2018 | hide | past | web | favorite | 236 comments

It really does suck. I have 20 years of professional software development on keyboards, the last 2 years purely on the 2017 MBP, if that in any way “qualifies” my opinion. This is a shit keyboard. Period. Probably not the worst keyboard in existence, but definitely the worst in its price bracket. Combined with the TouchBar I don’t think they could have made my development life any more miserable. So if that was the goal, well done! You succeeded. The trackpad is amazing though.

It's been a while since I used mine since it was destroyed after falling 18 inches onto a wood floor (corner bent, screen connection shorted) but I'm pretty sure the Macbook 12 keyboard is worse.

Maybe by a millimeter or so.

There is absolutely no way in hell a keyboard like this should be found on a laptop favored by software engineers.

I'm not sure if Apple is seeing the writing on the wall here, but why not just launch a developer line? Make it thicker, heavier, give it more battery, a keyboard with a proper amount of travel, larger keys, more keys, whatever. Ditch the retarded touch bar. More ram. More config options. More ports.

If they want to keep topping themselves on largely meaningless metrics and/or aesthetic self indulgence then by all means do so -- sell those to the rest of the market. The bulk of the market will buy the pretty ones.

Give me an uglier one that isn't so awful to actually use.

Or, seriously, start dying the death of a thousand cuts. I'm really close to pulling out of the Apple ecosystem and retooling for other work. I'm sure I'm not the only one.

What? Don't care about the people who work on iOS/macOS software professionally? Don't need us? Why don't you go talk to Microsoft about that.

> There is absolutely no way in hell a keyboard like this should be found on a laptop favored by software engineers.

I don't quite get it. Why are software engineers favoring such a laptop? Shouldn't this be worded the other way around? "There is no way a laptop with a keyboard like this should be favored by software engineers"...?

I no longer do.

My last MacBook was a 2013. It has 16GB RAM and a 1TB SSD and I still use it. I'm somewhat desensitised to the price creep because I buy on the business but it just doesn't seem like I'm in the target market anymore.

I really like the aesthetic of a case that isn't a wedge shaped lump of plastic but that only gets you so far. I've bought an Intel Hades Canyon, put Linux on it and moved most of my development over to it. I'll probably get an XPS to put Linux on for when I'm on the move.

I am baffled though; the issues seem to be so widely felt I don't understand why a company with such wealth can't throw us a bone like the slightly thicker dev oriented machine suggested above. I'd have thought it in their interest but I guess not.

> I am baffled though; the issues seem to be so widely felt I don't understand why a company with such wealth can't throw us a bone like the slightly thicker dev oriented machine suggested above. I'd have thought it in their interest but I guess not.

Even if they were interested, are we sure apple can still operate efficiently? A lot of large companies, including HP and Microsoft, hit a point where they have trouble getting even relatively simple things done (like replacing a keyboard).

Yeah, looks as though they've more than doubled from ~60k employees in 2011. I've no idea how you scale a business like Apples at that rate effectively.

In fairness, they’ve purchased a lot of other companies and software. I’ll bet much of the increase is in software or the acquisitions they’ve made.

Meeting with a team this month from Apple on a product purchased from the company I work for that (to my knowledge) had far fewer engineers—or at least engineers who would work with external engineers to the project.

It's tiny, super light, has decent battery, an "ok" CPU, 16GB ram and you can hook up a whole bunch of external peripherals including GPU via thunderbolt 3. It also doesn't have the coil whine the xps has and arguably better worldwide support when you use the premium partners rather than the apple store itself. In general the Macbooks aren't that much more expensive than the alternatives.

Not that I'm directly comparing it to the xps, since the macbook pro is probably more closely related to the xps, but still there's no other device with 16gb RAM in that segment. In terms of CPU the performance is pretty much on par with the Macbook air although it's CPU was last updated in 2015

I don't have one. I still use my 4 year old Macbook air. The only thing that bothers me is that I usually dual boot with linux and the newer macbooks are getting worse to run linux on.

When comparing to dell, I invite you to compare it to the latitude rather than xps. Latitudes are much more functional, not meant to be a fashion statement, have a keyboard with page up/down keys (which few other laptop keyboard have), while being light, powerful and upgradable. The only problem is that the fingerprint reader sucks.

> not meant to be a fashion statement

Is this a polite way of saying they're ugly?

Another way of thinking about this is that Dell made little to no compromises on function for aesthetics.

Don't have anything to say about your comparison, seems fair to me. One thing I personally add to it, though, is the price difference for the replacement keyboard and the difficulty of replacement procedure. Any keyboard may fail due to user spilling stuff on it, and in case of XPS, you could fairly easily splice in another one.

They meant that the MBP in general is favoured by software developers (especially until 2016), and the post-2016 MBP is the successor to that but doesn't live up to the reputation.

Anyone doing iOS app development effectively has no other choice.

> but why not just launch a developer line? Make it thicker, heavier, give it more battery, a keyboard with a proper amount of travel, larger keys, more keys, whatever. Ditch the retarded touch bar. More ram. More config options. More ports.

Creating a new line probably costs Apple hundreds of millions in R&D costs, to say nothing of the opportunity costs from putting some of their best hardware engineers on this project. I would imagine that Tim Cook looks at the dev market, compares to the cost, and says “no fucking way”.

Of course add to that the fact that “heavy and thick” is not a plus to most software devs either. The real market is probably much smaller than you’d like to believe.

HP, Thinkpad and Dell seem to find enough market to bother.

I sincerely doubt a model variant costs hundreds of millions either, or the majority of the laptop market would be unsustainable.

Thicker with more ports is not a “variant”. That’s an entirely custom housing with a different battery and possibly a different board to support the new ports. This is equivalent to the split between MacBook and MacBook Pro.

Dell, HP, and Lenovo also do not do what Apple is asked to do here. You can buy a thick heavy laptop from Dell. You cannot, however, buy a slightly thicker, slightly heavier XPS 13. If you want the flagship “ultra book”, you buy the one they sell. Otherwise you buy the plastic Inspiron or whatever which is an entirely different class of product and does not feel particularly premium.

> Otherwise you buy the plastic Inspiron or whatever

Aluminium body is now premium? How about not sacrificing cpu life for fan noise? Or repairability. Or non-soldiered on ssd? Working keyboard? Why's that not premium?

> Aluminium body is now premium?

Yes. I’m not sure what it accomplishes for you to feign ignorance here. When Apple started selling aluminum laptops, it was a big deal because it made everything on the market look low quality in comparison.

> How about not sacrificing cpu life for fan noise? Or repairability. Or non-soldiered on ssd? Working keyboard? Why's that not premium?

Because it’s not. Noisy fan to protect the CPU seems like the opposite of premium. Putting seat covers over the leather in a Mercedes is similarly not premium, because the experience suffers, even if the end result is better durability.

Non-soldered SSD? A thicker laptop for self-serve SSD swaps does not seem at all premium. Doing physical maintenance on my laptop in general does not feel premium. I expect it to work as I bought it. And yes, I would love it if I could cheap out and buy a basic laptop and upgrade it myself for half the cost, but that’s really not the premium experience. That’s the Honda Civic experience.

Keyboard? Shrug. They fucked up the design. Sucks, but Rolex has probably had to do some repairs in warranty before, too.

There are different plastics. And you came off like aluminium is the only thing that defines premium experience. For me premium experience also includes some baseline functionality. Level of keyboard noise I'm not embarrassed about. Peace of mind when I turn my laptop for repairs when I image ssd beforehand. Running my laptop at temperatures that are more reasonable for me. That's premium experience for me, not completely arbitrary 2 mm lesser thickness and pre-1888[1] precious[2] metals.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bayer_process

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Washington_Monument#Aluminum_a...

> I sincerely doubt a model variant costs hundreds of millions either, or the majority of the laptop market would be unsustainable.

Yeah, but the majority of the laptop market aren't doing brain-damaged things like removing ESC keys, adding pointless touchbars and designing keyboards which are beautiful to look at but which fail at actual typing. And the majority of the laptop market don't have to pay for Sir Jonathan Ive to remove all colour, ornament, affordance and delight from the design, moving as close to a featureless white rounded-rectangular prism as possible as he can for this iteration.

It wouldn't surprise me if Apple have to pay an order of magnitude (or two) per model, just to end up with something which is ultimately sub-par.

I already decided to not buy a new MacBook, and now i’m making a similar decision with the iPhone after 6 years. My main issue is instability of the OS. I could list issues for an hour, but it also doesn’t help that I can’t reliably connect remove photos on my phone via Linux, since apparently Apple changes important things about the connection protocol every 3-6 months. The instability of spellcheck is shocking too - ever since 10.5, it mishandles edited text in a very nonfunctional way.

If Apple is going to make iOS buggy and second rate, there goes my main reason to use an iPhone. Same with Mac hardware. Those are the parts that are supposed to be the good things about Apple - iOS and MacBook hardware quality were my reasons to buy their products.

Oh, and even worse, I can’t even connect my phone to my MacBook currently, which is running Sierra. I suppose Apple doesn’t consider that a priority because they assume you can upgrade. Sadly, the MB won’t upgrade to High Sierra - it gives an incomprehensible error every time after about 20 minutes.

I was Apple from the Macintosh SE until a couple years ago. Finally had enough and put the (significant) effort into shifting over. It took some time getting used to Windows again (hadn't really used it since 98SE other than sporadically), updating all my habits and muscle memory, etc.

Haven't regretted it once.

The machine I built for half the price of the equivalent Mac STILL makes me feel all warm and happy a year later. It feels weird to have more performance than I'd ever need, while spending so little. Windows 10 is perfectly usable, unlike multiple predecessors. WSL is amazing, and basically gives you that *nix-terminal-in-an-instance feel that used to be a unique feature of OSX.

It's easier than ever to switch, and there's less reasons than ever not to. Apple is treading dangerous waters I reckon. I seriously think if more Apple users knew how far Windows PCs had come, they'd be switching now, as I know I myself held off for a fair while just because I was hesitant to believe it had gotten that much better.

That's what I'm most afraid of if apple doesn't veer from its current path. I can't go back to windows. I've used windows, Mac OS, and Ubuntu, and windows was the worst OS for me.

Almost every single tool/technology that I've come across in the last couple years has separate laborious and annoying installation instructions for windows. Many don't even support windows at the start.

Unless Microsoft rewrites windows as a *nix OS from scratch (not gonna happen), I don't see myself being willing to go back to it.

The Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL) lets you run unmodified Linux binaries in a Windows terminal.

You can install Ubuntu from the Windows App Store and it’s the real thing, not an emulation layer like Cygwin. You don’t need separate install instructions — just follow the ones for Ubuntu.

It’s really an underappreciated amazing feature of modern Windows: you can run an entire Linux userland on the same kernel.

It's handy, I'll give you that. Until this bug (feature?) is sorted, it's dangerous: https://blogs.msdn.microsoft.com/commandline/2016/11/17/do-n...

The Linux files live in a separate location from the standard Windows folders that Explorer exposes. I've never had a problem with accidentally stumbling into my Linux tree from the Windows GUI.

Understood, I'd launch editors from the wsl & end up blowing up all of my work without thinking. It's hard to get out of the habit of typing `atom .` inside a folder.

Oh well, linux works for me :)

I’ll second this. I found the emulators like Cygwin a bit clunky for my tastes. The WSL is a great compromise.

I do love Homebrew but windows has chocolatey which is an analog or you could just use the windows Linux subsystem and use the native apt or yum tools.

Based on the comment, I'm assuming you built a desktop system. Is there an equivalent for laptops? I keep looking at Surface books, and... get tempted, then read about something that seems like a major flaw, so I hold off. $3k would be a lot to drop on a machine, so... I want some assurances it would be worthwhile switching from a MBP (2015).

for 3K you could look at most of the premium brands and from a hardware point of view, I'd say you have a good chance of finding something that suits your needs.

Dell XPS 13 are popular and can be shipped and supported with Linux out of the box as well as Windows. XPS 15 can be an option if you're ok with some added weight and want more power.

Lenovo T-Series have been around for ages and generally have quite robust hardware. There's also the Carbon X1 if you want something lighter, or the Thinkpad P1 if you want more power.

HP Elitebooks - Similar to the other two these have a good range of options and good hardware build generally.

On the Microsoft side there's the Surface Pro's and also the surface book, which is very pricey but again has some nice hardware.

Of course all this depends on what you're looking for from a laptop, what is "worthwhile" is a personal judgement :)

I’ll never buy another xps after my experience with the xps 13. Trackpad was near useless due to outright user abuse. Tried any driver tricks and hacks I could find to little help. Plus windows just doesn’t do 4k acceptably.

I guess mileage varies on these things, laptop choice is quite a personal affair. Personally I'm relatively fine with Windows 4K perf. (running a Dell Precision 7520)...

Dell XPS 13 is my primary choice for last 5 years (I had 2 work laptops from this product line and still own a model from 2015). The only bug in it is a nosecam.

And the wretched touchpad with its constant false triggers. I love my XPS 13, but I always use it with mouse, as the touchpad is so terrible.

Curious: Linux, or windows? Make sure you're using libinput if on linux, it'll solve that outright.

Never had this problem.

I'd heavily recommend the lenovo x1 line, I'm using the x1c5 (gen5) without issue. Love it in every regard, and it doesn't hurt that it's lighter than the macbook by a heavy margin.

> I'm not sure if Apple is seeing the writing on the wall here, but why not just launch a developer line? Make it thicker, heavier, give it more battery, a keyboard with a proper amount of travel, larger keys, more keys, whatever. Ditch the retarded touch bar. More ram. More config options. More ports.

I would celebrate this if not for the fact that they'd find a way charge €3000-5000 for it. RIP if you like to use a MacBook as a university student.

> What? Don't care about the people who work on iOS/macOS software professionally? Don't need us? Why don't you go talk to Microsoft about that.

All the Macs together present about 5-10% of Apple's revenue. On their scale, that's still a big chunk of money, but that figure makes it quite obvious why it takes the bank bench to the iPhone. Hell, I'm surprised they put as much effort in their iPads, considering those also only present ~10% of their revenue. The iPhones are the big money maker with around 70% of their revenue.

a developer model without a touchbar would mean nothing would ever get written for the touchbar.

I don't understand how people can trash so much the keyboard and then say the trackpad is amazing. It's way too big and my palms keep touching/clicking on it while I type, which breaks my flow all the time, especially when I'm coding in like vim and trigger unwanted keys.

I agree the trackpad is unnecessarily large. It works much better than the competition though.

"Better than other trackpads on the market" and "the trackpad is great" are two different statements.

Exactly. A bit too large but still by far the best trackpad out there.

I have a question to those Macbook users who find its trackpad far superior to the competition, does the trackpad behaves the same way with other OS, like with Ubuntu? The reason why I asked because when I installed Linux on my 2012 Macbook air, it's trackpad turned into the normie trackpad instead of the super awesome Macbook trackpad.

In other words, how much of Macbook's trackpad is in it's software?

> In other words, how much of Macbook's trackpad is in it's software?

A tonne. Compare how the trackpad acts in the restore system, and how it acts in MacOS: Two very different realms of quality.

Regardless, lenovo & dell's (x1 & xps) trackpads are on par with the macbook '15's trackpad. Apple has lost that advantage.

well works great need to include "does not do things when I don't intend". I have normal hands size so I can't see how other people don't face this problem

Ergonomics are a weird thing. There’s a huge variation in human anatomy and preferences. What is amazing for you will be terrible for someone else. You can invest a lot of man hours into trying to come up with a solution that works well for the majority (actually most tech hardware companies invest very little in that), but you’re never going to make everyone happy. Especially highly technical users.

There’s a huge variation in human anatomy and preferences.

There's also long term vs short term effects. Your personal preference might feel great for you right now, but will lead to joint and back pain 5-10 years down the road. While the 'correct' way may feel highly unnatural right now, but may very well save you from much pain and anguish at some point in the future.

Agreed. I had to put electrical tape across the top of mine (and the Touch Bar). https://hackernoon.com/i-tried-to-fix-my-macbook-pros-touch-...

oh good one, maybe I'll try the same!

I had a similar experience when I first bought my Macbook Pro 2017, but eventually I got used to its size and grew to like the larger trackpad.

However, when I switch to my old Macbook Pro 2013, they keyboard feels so much nicer to me that I feel frustrated with my purchase.

I had this problem too back when my work laptop was an MBP.

Just disable the mouse in your vimrc, you'll be better off for it.

didn't know I could do that :facepalm: thanks for the hint

Somehow I don't have a problem with the touchpad while typing, I guess different people hold their hands while typing in different ways.

Coding professionally since 1997 on God knows how many keyboards. Now using a custom built mechanical one on the workstation at work. However the butterfly 2017 MB keyboard feels entirely fine. If anything, it feels better than the "classic" mushy MBP keyboard. But dunno maybe I have low standards.

I'm on the same camp, coding professionally since 2005, had a few mechanical keyboards and I've swapped my work laptop from a MBP 2015 to the 2018 and had no problems with the keyboard so far, like you I actually like it more than my old MBP mushy keyboard.

As a disclaimer: I have had at least 4 iterations of MBPs before starting at my current company and getting a 2015.

> If anything, it feels better than the "classic" mushy MBP keyboard. But dunno maybe I have low standards.

The previous keyboard wasn't great either, but at least there was a little travel, the layout doesn't suck, and it's not nearly as delicate as the butterfly keyboard.

Apple seems to have fixed the issues with the keyboard being delicate.

We need a year or so to be sure. It took about that long before my last MBP started getting stuck keys and losing keys.

For what it's worth, I type like anyone else does - but I do it a lot. That keyboard was in terrible shape by year 2. I hope the new keyboards are fixed... I have to use one for work (it's issued by my employer).

It feels weird to not want a brand new Apple laptop. I was just so disappointed by that keyboard and the touch bar though.

Apple can do what it wants as long as it has a monopoly over operating systems. There is nothing like masOS out there. Personally i think the real problem is not the butterfly keys, it's the shrunken space between the keys. The arrow keys on the new MacBook Pros are the design fail of the century. I can't tell up from down without looking. Other laptops did it before and i was grateful that Apple didn't copy them, until now.

> Apple can do what it wants as long as it has a monopoly over operating systems.

Except they don’t?

In the context of laptops. But then many people have never used a decent laptop and still comment

There is nothing like masOS. But there certainly are alternatives to MacOS. One of which starts with L.

An alternative on which you’d waste more time tinkering with it and trying to get it to work than do real work. Oh and you get an inconsistent and absolutely awful UX as a bonus.

Linux GUI is inconsistent. Inside the terminal, Linux has tab completion for command parameters and modifiers and no need to remap the keyboard so the alt and function keys behave. Additionally, you'll spend a lot of time on a mac writing scripts and such do deal with the difference between your Mac dev environment and your Linux production environment (if you do web dev). Honestly, being able to build for iOS and hardware quality were why Macs have been popular with developers. That keyboard is really terrible... so much so I did not buy a mac this time... And I really love Apple's product.

> you'll spend a lot of time on a mac writing scripts and such do deal with the difference between your Mac dev environment and your Linux production environment (if you do web dev)

Or you'll just use a virtual machine?

Maintaining a vm is roughly like maintaining an additional computer.

Why use a virtual Linux machine running on a proprietary OS when I could just run Linux on the hardware? Why would I want to be stuck with a non-tiling window manager? Why would I want to be stuck with a decade-old bash(1)? Why would I want to be stuck with an OS which requires using the GUI to get anything done?

I work with macOS users (and used to be one, many many years ago). I honestly feel that I'm far more productive with Linux, and that others I see using Linux are far more productive as well.

macOS is very pretty to look at, and it looks great in demos, but I believe it's less productive to actually use. Meanwhile, Linux is like a lever for my mind — or, to steal an old Steve Jobs line, a bicycle for my mind.

i was replying to the poster above who wants to run a mac, but wants parity with linux environment, but then complained about all the time spent dealing with the differences. Specifically in the context of that person's post, re: "if you do web dev", tiling window managers on Linux don't come in to play.

"I'm far more productive with Linux". I used to feel that way too, until I wanted to work primarily with laptops, and not have to worry about network drivers, or sleep mode, or worrying that upgrading something would require hours of figuring out what to recompile.

I've absolutely no doubt that some people reading this - perhaps even you - will tell me

* how I was doing something wrong, or * I need to 'research my hardware before I buy it', or that * you never ever have any of these problems, and every linux laptop you've ever had ran perfectly smoothly with no wifi/sleep/printing issues ever, and * it must be my fault because "ubuntu just works" (or fill in whatever the catchphrase of the day is)

I spent 8 years wrestling with Linux on laptops (desktop was generally less of an issue), and don't want to have that be my primary pain point. If I need direct Linux, I have remote servers, or virtual machines (either on macbook or windows).

Yes, I may truly miss the productivity of tiling window managers. And... heavens, yes, my bash is out of date. But somehow I survive.

Please. The first thing I have to do when I provision a new macbook is install bettertouchtool, and hack apart at that for an hour to get half-decent hotkeys. Every other OS has half-decent ones. https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT204948 — explain why that is simply windows-right or windows-left on every other OS, but apple requires some convoluted fucking process.

And that beautiful UX that is the bouncing icons in apple's dock? Oh! New notification from an application, let's have an icon bounce in the dock for a full 45 minutes.

Apple is chock-full full of stupid design decisions, Linux has done surprisingly fine in comparison, particularly given the uneven investment, capital-wise.

Late last year I swapped back to linux, & gave it a firm shake after ~9 years of apple (I abandoned ship due to the lack of ports, + touchbar). My linux distro gave me a hassle just a few weeks ago, so I tried swapping back to my '17 macbook & couldn't stomach it for more than 30 minutes.

Give ubuntu or fedora a try, it's light-years ahead of what it used to be.

I switched to MacOS and gave it a good 3 month try, it pissed me off so much that I'm back on Linux.

> awful UX as a bonus.

Mac shell felt arcane and overly verbose, like a weird powershell clone that doesn't pay the price for its verbosity with typed io, and doesn't have autocompletion like every normal shell on Linux. Out of all file managers I still prefer Explorer.exe but I'd take any manager on any Linux DE over Finder, same with notepad or image preview software. macOS doesn't even come with PC keyboard layout for my country, I had to fish for it on the internet, something so basic I doubt even Linux failed to screw up in the last 20 years.

For my use case that's not good enough. I'm fine with PC hardware, in fact I'd love to build a desktop with great components for a fraction of the price a Mac entails. However as someone that uses his computer for web development as well as audio work, only macOS covers these areas competently. From what I can tell Windows's subsystem for Linux isn't ready for prime time and the state of audio software on Linux isn't worth discussing.

I feel exactly the same way. Just bought the new 2018 model and I can't shake the feeling they're completely off-track. The trackpad and screen are excellent, the OS is okay but boy, that thinness chasing is so dumb! I make many more typos on this keyboard than on any other. There are only dumb thunderbolt ports. The touchbar is the dumbest gadget I've ever seen (RIP physical escape key) and it even crashed on me keeping the sound control stuck to the maximum.

Considering the price of these machines, I feel they're really playing with fire.

This doesn’t get mentioned much but they wrecked the physical media keys because of the touchbar. You can no longer control iTunes globally, the media keys only work with the focused app because that’s what the touch bar does.

So if a web page is playing a muted ad with sound your media keys wont do anything if you try to pause iTunes.

For occasional use I don't mind it. I mostly work on an external keyboard. Two things that do frustrate me - the arrow keys - it's like playing finger twister.

That aside, the sharpness of the frame actually digs into my wrist - a little rounded would have made such a difference.

If it weren't for the Mac ecosystem and that only Apple can produce hardware, I think they would fix this.

The touchpad on my new Lenovo X1 is great enough that the only thing that I miss about my Macs is the incredible resale value.

You like the trackpad? I find it excessively large. I was typing on someone else's MBP today and I kept making unintentional clicks because of the trackpad. Of course, the typing experience was awful as well. Extremely stupid move by apple. Wonder if they thought about UX for programmers at all.

Do many developers actually use laptop keyboards for coding? From what I've observed, most have a real keyboard on their desks and only use the laptop keyboard in meetings and such.

At the office I have a real keyboard (das keyboard; edit: I mention the name meant as a reference to my style preference, but definitely would recommend it as well), but I can’t use that at home while in bed, etc. (which is where a laptop shines).

I do. I like to have a compact laptop directly under the centre of a larger monitor.

I touch type and want to keep everything symmetrical around a central point.

I avoid using mice or keyboards with numeric keypads because I try to reduce the amount of off one sided movements.

I try to drive everything from the keyboard and from the homerow if I can.

If I really have to use a mouse, moving my right hand a few centimetres to use a trackpad is, for me, much more ergonomic than a larger movement to reach past a numeric keypad for a mouse.

I do 100% on my development work on a 2015 MacBook Pro. I work remotely from different places so I value the consistency in my work flow (same keyboard, same trackpad). I would've normally already purchased a new MBP this year but I'm actively considering alternatives for the first time in 8 years due to these keyboard issues and the idiotic touchbar issue. Currently looking at Surface Pro and Thinkpad X1.

I have this exact MBP and really love it for casual use and music production, but I think it would be a huge pain for serious programming tasks.

> The trackpad is amazing though.

Perhaps you can transform the trackpad into a keyboard using software ...

> The trackpad is amazing though

Just wait until Apple decide to "improve" that.

What a rant (and yes, she is VERY late to the party).

Other than the dust issue which I did have once (and got a keyboard replacement for), I am in the extreme minority when I say that I absolutely love the keystroke feel of this thing (MBP 2016). It's just the right amount of "clicky-clacky" and yet just shallow enough to hit a sweet spot for me.

So yes - they deserve flak for the dust issue. But the key travel and clackiness is really personal taste if you ask me...

I agree with you, while I've had both first and second (maybe third if we agree there is a third) of the new gen of keyboards and no problems with any of them - I accept that there has been some sort of design issue causing a higher than 'acceptable' level of faults with them. Regardless as someone who considers themselves a pretty hardcore fan of mechanical keyboards - I for some odd reason enjoy typing on the new ultra low profile keyboards.

I can't fully explain it - it just 'feels' right (after an initial bedding in period), I actually type /very/ fast on these keyboards - comparative to my desktop (with a Das series 4 with blue switches) which I personally found quite hard to admit (even to myself).

Obviously my experience is skewed due to not having any problems with recently low profile keyboards, but I am still quite astonished at how well I am typing not just on a laptop keyboard - but an ultra low profile keyboard.

Same here. I like the feel, and type very fast because of the small travel. I cannot speak about the dust issues, since I haven't had the problem.

Thank you for saying in two sentences what I (likely) failed to say in many.

Das 4 with blue switches at _home_ right, not at work? I think I would be shanked if I ever brought mine in again to the office

Blue switches at work - I do check with in those nearby my every 4-8 weeks (truly!) to see if my typing is annoying anyone, so far in (6 years or so on blues or similar) everyone just laughs and says they’ll let me know if it’s a distraction but this far it’s not to them.

Several people have noted to the theme of the fact that typing has quite a rhythm to it, so it’s not like an intermittent or seemingly random noise thus they don’t seem to find it distracting.

By contrast people would be seriously pissed if someone had a desk phone plugged in or a cell phone with an audible ring tone.

Most developers I've worked next to, don't mind it at all, since they focus on their tasks, flow etc. Most non-developers have told me they would prefer I use something quieter. :)

This comment was gray when I saw it. Why was it downvoted?

HN seems to be becoming like Reddit with such drive-by grudge-voting where everyone just wants the narrative they support to rise up and bury everything else.

It's always been trendy to bash Apple's products, call anyone who likes them a "fanboy", rant about the Reality Distortion Field, etc. etc.

Truth is, things that are actually objectively wrong (like flaky first-gen version of this keyboard) get fixed, and the rest is... subjective. I'm on a MBP with touch bar and I don't have a problem with it. I've never particularly liked any laptop keyboard, and at my desk I always plug in a mechanical keyboard, but I just don't get the pure frothing-at-the-mouth hatred for this thing. It's a laptop keyboard. It's not the best one I've ever used, but it's also nowhere near the worst.

My feeling is that this is the latest iteration of people wanting some particular design choice they disagree with to finally be the thing that opens everyone's eyes and proves that their hatred of Apple was perfectly objective and rational all along. But it never actually seems to, y'know, happen. And every year or two they all move on to writing endless articles about some new thing that will finally be the one that destroys Apple once and for all.

For me the frustration is moving from a machine that never once got in my way or stepped on my toes (the 2015) to one that does constantly. The typos, touch-bar brushes, speaker pops and stuck keys, were they on a machine that I had no prior experience with, probably wouldn't be so frustrating. But, coming from years of reliable use with the previous generation of machines, they stand out immensely and cause major annoyance just because they seem so unnecessary. I was conditioned to expect much more from MacBooks

And I don't have any of the problems you're reporting. If you've got a bad keyboard or bad speakers, they'll replace it. The touch bar doesn't bother me, and there are apps where I find it useful, so we're back to "they'll fix the objective stuff, and what's left is subjective".

Yeah I like it too. I'm on a 2017 MBP. I do have to hit it with a can of compressed air every now and again but otherwise it's great. My wife has a 2015 macbook and same thing, just have to hit it with compressed air occasionally.

> I am in the extreme minority when I say that I absolutely love the keystroke feel of this thing

I do as well and I don't think we're in the minority, there are just a lot of loud people on the internet.

I agree. The only thing I don't like is the arrow key layout. I don't have strong feelings on the touch bar one way or another.

I agree about the arrow keys. I actually find the touch bar quite useful (especially when recording music with Logic Pro). I also love being able to unlock my machine using TouchID.

I have one of the new Apple external keyboards, which I believe have the same keys as the new oft-criticised laptops. (If I'm wrong, please correct me!)

And I like typing on it very much. I previously had the preceding Apple external keyboard which had more travel, and considered getting a mechanical keyboard because 1. it's cool and 2. it's supposed to be nicer to type on, but due to circumstances I got this one and I'm actually quite happy with it. Wondering whether it would've been a good idea at all to try a mechanical one.

Don’t think the external keyboards have anywhere near the same keys. At least the magic keyboard 2 doesn’t. They have a bit more travel, and while not really mechanical they’re satisfactory for daily use.

Another vote for the keyboard and the huge trackpad. The arrow keys are a bit annoying, and I don't really see the point in the Touchbar (but then I use Ctrl-C instead of Esc in vim so it doesn't really affect me much).

You are not alone. I feel the same. One of my fav keyboards in terms of usability.

I, too, love the keyboard! <3

Switched from 2015 to 2018 model recently.

The good:

  - fingerprint for unlock is a nice convenience
  - 32GB RAM are nice. A much needed bump, allowing me run some workload on the client that previously required an additional workstation
the bad:

  - keyboard is noisy
  - touchbar = useless gimick - I actually used the F-keys and ESC a lot, now they are effectively gone.
  - touchpad much worse with it‘s fake press (i.e at drag and drop) and the increased size means more accidental inputs occur
  - removal of magsafe ... „it just works“ apparently is too boring
  - headphone jack moved to the right so the cable gets in the way of the mouse
  - thermals ... I hear the fans spin up a lot more.
  - port mono-culture. maybe usb-c is the future, but my present is now full of dongles
Overall, I‘d much prefer a 2015 or 2012 MBP enclosure with updated internals. Not to mention the hefty price increase YoY.

Wrt drag and drop: I always enable three finger drag on any macbook.

I already used 3-finger swipe to navigate between spaces. Can’t have it all I guess.

I use 3-finger drag and 4-finger swipe to navigate spaces.

Same here, the trackpad is so frustrating to use without this feature. I hope apple doesn't remove it in the future.

> touchpad much worse with it‘s fake press (i.e at drag and drop) and the increased size means more accidental inputs occur

Google around and find out how to turn on 3 finger drag. I have no idea why they decided to hide this feature, but its the only sensible way to drag and drop on the trackpad.

> - touchbar = useless gimick - I actually used the F-keys and ESC a lot, now they are effectively gone.

You can go to the Keyboard section of System Preferences, and there's a drop down the lets you change back to F-keys ("Touch Bar Shows:")

But in that case it's nothing more than a strictly worse set of F-keys, as you lose the tactility.

Exactly. For example it is next to impossible to use them for quick debugger navigation, as you can no longer rest your fingers on the keys, much like you would with WASD clusters in a game.

I also use F-keys with modifiers for all sorts of shortcuts. I know that using layers and sticking to the home row can be more efficient, but being forced to use third party tools to restore basic functionality is not my understanding of “it just works”™ - it did work just fine before they broke it.

> I actually used the F-keys and ESC a lot

Then remap Caps Lock to Escape right now. There's no good reason not to, considering how easy MacOS makes it.

Can't help you with F-keys though. Never used them myself. On Mac OS there's usually an alternate keyboard shortcut. That row of keys is too far away from home row to be ergonomically useful.

My current keyboard doesn't have that row at all. Actually that was a bit of an issue since I'm using Windows with that keyboard, and unlike Mac OS, there's some real need for F-keys. So I had to remap F3 and F4, but that was all.

In my opinion, the trackpad is a really great idea on paper, as that row should never be used for frequent typing anyway. And it's pretty close to the screen, so it's not too far to look down. But it doesn't seem like they've managed to make it work in practice. I've seen some people who have had success with some customisation though.

> Then remap Caps Lock to Escape right now.

I already remapped Caps Lock to Control. And I use Control a lot more than Escape.

Use Karabiner-Elements to remap it to both. Escape when hit and control when held.

I wonder how many more functions we can remap on this one key before Apple finally removes it :/.

> the trackpad is a really great idea on paper

I guess you meant "Touch Bar"

but my caps lock is my control key!

I've been a mac user since before the "i" came along. But as my all time favorite 2015 Macbook Pro ages, I'm concerned where to turn next. The current Touchbar Macbook Pro line seems to favor weight and slimness over true "Pro" features like having a desktop grade keyboard, speed and battery stamina.

Apple hit near perfectionism with the 2015 keyboard/ current desktop keyboard line, please don't try to put a portable keyboard in a machine made for professionals, just to free an extra fraction of an inch in height.

Apple used to make the worlds fastest, yet beautiful to look at, portable workstations. Please don't forget us actual professionals who type all day and care less about fractions of inches and shiny emojis.

Call it the Macbook Actual Pro and charge more I don't care, I just wanna get back to work.

I feel exactly the same with my late 2013 retine macbook pro. I'm actually thinking about buying the same model used now, just to be sure I have a replacement when my current machine breaks at some point, that seems more reasonable than betting on apple to remove the touch bar, and fix all the issues, in the next version.

I was worried before I got mine, and I'm actually really happy with it.

* I want a physical escape key so I configured caps lock to be escape * The touchbar is pretty useless, and having it switching all the time is distracting so I set it to be "fixed" with only the buttons I use * I like the keyboard, I just hope it won't fail me * I really like the sensor to unlock with the fingerprint - I know it's been on thinkpads for years, but it's really convenient

So yeah, the only issue left is my fear of seeing the keyboard die because of dust... That's pretty much it.

I‘ve switched to a T480s Thinkpad. Best keyboard I ever had, OK touchpad, good matte HiDPI screen, USB-A, USB-C, HDMI, Ethernet, 1TB SSD, 24GB Ram, much nicer case than Macbooks even, price 2300 USD. Only downside: Hinge doesn‘t open with one hand and ... it has no MacOS. Takes a while to be as productive on Win or Linux but the hardware is absolutely worth it when compared to the mess that is the new MBPs.

Meanwhile I'm over here quite enjoying it. I type on a Filco MJ2 50% of my time and my MBPr keyboard the other 50%. It's not amazing, but it ain't bad either. At least that's my opinion. And that's what this is all about really... opinion. (Except for actual key failures or issues like that)

Caps lock fails to properly engage on my 2015 MBP too, its not an issue solely of the new KB.

Sure there's issues, but I think people are kicking up WAY too much of a fuss. I too paid >$2000 for my 2017 MBP.

Your macbook is still new :) Wait until it gets slightly older... I got a 1 yr old 2016 model and the keyboard went horrible in no-time. I just got rid of it and returned to my 2015 MBP.

I'm somehow hoping some future model will have normal USB ports, HDMI and a normal keyboard... yeah like that's going to happen.

My MacBook keyboard has just given up the ghost completely, spamming the keys 2 and 3 until I unloaded the kext manually.

Now gotta figure out how to get this replaced in a timely manner without leaving my machine for weeks.

What's wrong with USB-C? Sounds like a cool idea in theory - you essentially don't need a docking station.

The entire problem is that you do need a docking station/dongles to plug in the 99% of peripherals that are not USB-C.

Having USB-C ports is great, having only USB-C ports is a constant annoyance.

And this is before getting into the absolute shitshow that is the cable situation. Lots of cables are USB2 only. There are passive and active TB3 cables. Active TB3 cables cannot support USB 3.1. There are 3A USB-PD cables and 5A USB-PD cables. Of course you can't tell any of this by looking at the cable, only by plugging things in and wondering why they don't work. And these are the problems with 100% spec-compliant cables before getting into all the companies that completely ignore the standard.

Fair enough. If I ever get a laptop with USB-C, I think I'd replace at least my monitors and keyboard mouse to USB-C devices, so that I can get the "docking station" effect. Sucks if you don't want to do that (ex. because you've just recently bought them) though.

My MacBook is from 2015 and still types fine.

The super thin keys are only in the 2016 and later models.

The MacBook[0] had the super thin keys in 2015.

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MacBook_(12-inch)

What do you mean by horrible?

I've done A LOT of typing on this, no changes yet. I'm hoping it stays that way ;P

Some keys that "feel" different than others, some keys that occasionally get stuck (double-press or no-press), and some keys also sound different than others.

The whole keyboard was just a mess in just over a year, and it is not like I abused the machine. I only use it at a desk (either at home or at office) and don't eat at my desk (or do other activities that might cause excessive dirt to come close to the keyboard).

My 2015 keyboard (and all other keyboards I've ever owned) are all still fine. I've never experienced keyboard degradation like this.

The funny thing is... it isn't even the only one. Others I've tried had the same problem.

Do note that I don't disliked the keyboard when it was new. I thought it was just fine. I liked the clicky-ness and it felt like I could type on it pretty fast. The keyboard just got bad pretty fast. Going back to the 2015 model, I hated the 2015 keys as well for a while, for being so "mushy". At least they work great, and the "mushyness" I got used to pretty fast.

And I <3 my USB-A/HDMI ports. I hate donglelife... I have 0 USB-C devices

The keyboard isn't great, sure, but I don't hate it nearly as much as I HATE the !@#$!@#$ touchbar, which constantly picks up presses I didn't intend with all sorts of "amusing" side effects.

The compulsory fakebar forced me to get my first Windows machine for many years. I do in all honesty find Windows fairly nasty compared to macOS, but having a whole row of useful keys replaced with an effete Englishman's private whimsy was a bridge too far for me.

For all the advances in hardware and software, there is no longer a single good (by my lights) laptop option available on the market.

I just chucked Ubuntu on a Dell, it's not perfect, but I'm pretty happy with it so far.

Was my preferred option, but I had too many niggling difficulties (driver problems, hdpi not working on essential apps, etc). Most (not all) are fixable with research, but I don't have time right now. TBH if I did I'd rather spend that time running or sailing or playing music, not setting up an OS.

in the same boat as you. oh if only WSL was 5 years more developed and windows config wasn‘t such a mess. I will say though that it has its upsides, such as more reliable plug&play, the task manager and gaming. That‘s about all it has over MacOS though...

Mirrors my experience. I'm a bit surprised that after years of the cygwin experience, Microsoft hasn't come up with a more elegant solution to incompatible filepaths issues. Having said that, it's good WSL works as well as it does.

I'm also a bit surprised at the lack of good Windows software in some spheres - eg. there isn't a really good mail client (the built-in UWP one is a feeble toy). I slightly shamefully gave up and started forwarding my domain email to a gmail account.

ha. did exactly the same thing. just gave up on mail clients and use webmail now. that being said MacOS Mail has also seen much better (more stable) days and I was already close on giving up on that too. But I‘m surprised everyone lives with this mess too. Same as the tower of babel that is the IM landscape now I guess. Over the last 5 years I‘ve come to accept that the golden age of PC software is over, and I‘d date its peak to around MacOS 10.6.

I called Apple (with Apple Care in hand thinking it might somehow give me a negotiation chip) begging to swap my touchbar for no touch .. a few months post purchase).

The apple service comment was "high learning curve".

The in person visit quickly resolved everything :)

This. One year in and I still accidentally stop the music, not to mention the impossibility of changing brightness/volume/music without actually looking at the damn thing.

My next personal laptop will be a Surface.

Is there are way to completely disable or turn off the touch bar?

Can you just "re-map" it so all actions do nothing?

Maybe using BetterTouchTool you could hack it to do mostly nothing:


It has various display options. You can make it display only Esc and F1-F12, which is essentially the same as "do nothing" unless the app you are using happens to have bindings for those keys.

It seems like Apple aren't actually practicing design any more

instead we have the superficial appearance of design - thinner, lighter, but less useful

same with innovation - what is the TouchBar except a desperate attempt to innovate, achieving only the superficial appearance of innovation while actually producing something of no value

To everyone hating on the TouchBar - as you should - seriously consider the entry level MBP and just max out the specs. Voila, physical Esc and F keys. Adios idiotic touch strip.

Only downside is that only 13”es are sold this way.

And it's limited to two ports, at least in earlier editions.

Come on, I wanted exactly this kind of keyboard: barely visible but clicky and tactile, since the early 1990s! Now I have finally got it. It feels great.

I actually find it a great keyboard. However, I have mild RSI, and both travel and force aggravate it. I like cherry MX blue switches because I can avoid using much force, and I don't have to bottom out the keys, so I have a long habit of stopping my keypress when I get tactile feedback that the keyboard has registered the press.

So, I think a lot of people who don't like it could probably like it if they approached it like I do. And, in my experience, you don't need that key travel. You have to get used to stopping the keypress when it registers the press. However, the keyboard gives very clear feedback about that.

If you compare it to other keyboards you use and expect the same thing, it will disappoint you. Accept it as something different that you have to use and think about differently.

It does not hamper my speed or accuracy at all. I can type about 80 WPM with a negligible error rate (<1%. Obviously, the error rate goes up if I type faster.) I can type perhaps even more quickly and accurately on this keyboard than any I have ever used, and key travel literally just wastes your time and aggravates (perhaps even causes) RSI.

Ok, I`ll just say it, I like this new mechanism and bigger keys much more than the keyboard before it. I like the size, clicking sound, pressure, precise movements... The only downside is that they had reliability issues, and I hope that they fixed that with 2018 version.

I think it's funny that now when Apple happened to make a truly awful keyboard, basically everyone is raging. But PC makers has been building terrible keyboards for years and no one seems to give a damn. Or is everyone just assuming that keyboards are supposed to be that way on PCs? Also, this problem goes beyond laptops, most "affordable" keyboards that I've tried has been horrible as well. I'm typing at the moment at some standard logitech keyboard my fingers cry for every key I press. It's got a cheap feeling to it, the force it takes to press beyond the "bump" is way too great and the keycaps wobble. The only thing I like about it is the profile which is rather low.

PC Market has choices. If I don't like HP's new keyboards, I can look at Lenovo or Dell or one of a number of other providers.

And some PC Laptop keyboards are really nice, so it's not as though there aren't good options (My HP Elitebook 840G1 has been working well for ages and is really nice to type on)

The problem for Macbook users is that they're the only game in town, so if you don't like the direction of travel you're stuck.

I've got a similar problem on the phone angle. I like iPhones, I've had iPhones mainly since the 4, but I don't like the removal of ports. The removal of the headphone jack was a right pain for people who had paid good money for ANC headphones and lightning options are thin on the ground.

It's the challenge of a monoculture ecosystem...

Everything you're saying is simply untrue.

> But PC makers has been building terrible keyboards for years and no one seems to give a damn. Or is everyone just assuming that keyboards are supposed to be that way on PCs?

MBP keyboards _stop functioning_. This means, you click on a key, and nothing happens, you get duplicatee keystrokess, or you have to press very hard to even get a keystroke.

I have never had a keyboard that stopped functioning from normal use in any laptop more expensive than $500, and the MBP I used to have I paid 1749 EUR for (not sure what that is in USD, maybe 2000?).

It's ridiculous.

> think it's funny that now when Apple happened to make a truly awful keyboard, basically everyone is raging.

Are you kidding? No one is raging. Journalists kept giving their crappy laptops good reviews and there was no mention of keyboard problems anywhere for years even after many, many people complained.

It took Apple 2-3 class actions to even acknowledge the problem. I moved to PC at least a year ago because of this.

They're advertising like they make high-end stuff--much better than 99% of the other guys, and they can't even make a laptop good enough to be used as a laptop.

> The only thing I like about it is the profile which is rather low.

I guess you have gotten lucky and your keyboard is better, and you didn't read on what the whole problem is about.

I think its more of a problem because Apple laptops are the only option for a lot of people (myself included) because they value having macOS over whatever annoyances the hardware might present.

If this years' Dell has a shitty keyboard then you can just get the Lenovo instead or vice versa.

> I think it's funny that now when Apple happened to make a truly awful keyboard, basically everyone is raging. But PC makers has been building terrible keyboards for years and no one seems to give a damn

No, that's not a fair comparison.

PC makers have made cheap or low-quality keyboards for years. But they've always been mostly functional, even if they didn't feel great. And if it had failed it's been easy (or at least possible) to replace. I've replaced keyboard keys and/or whole keyboards on laptops like the Lenovo Yoga and Dell Inspiron, for instance. It's a delicate process, but can be done with just a few screws or clips, at below $100 USD prices.

Apple made a defective unusable keyboard that intentionally can not be repaired and costs multiple hundreds of dollars to fix. That's a big, unique escalation of worst-case keyboard problems, hence the outrage.

I'm not aware of any major PC manufacturer shipping a keyboard that broken and that expensive in their flagship devices in decades. No laptop keyboard from Dell, HP, Asus, Acer, Toshiba, Microsoft, etc in the past 10 years was ever as bad as the keyboard Apple shipped all last year.

The closest thing I can think of is something like the Lenovo Yoga Book, but even that is a prototype device not replacing real Yoga lines (so real, reliable keyboards were still always available), and even that Yoga Book all-touchscreen keyboard is still more reliable than the previous MacBooks physical keyboard.

How is that funny? Keyboards are decoupled from PCs via USB and PS/2, so if someone wants a better keyboard they can go spend £50-200 on one. There is a wide variety of keyboards.

The point of a laptop is integration, and if you want integration you have to have what the manufacturer provides. Also, if you need macOS, and a laptop, there's not much choice.

A MacBook Pro can easily be a £500-1000 premium over an equivalent spec Dell laptop, and who knows how much over a similar spec PC. You should get a good keyboard for that money.

I have an Apple USB external keyboard for when I have to do serious typing on the linux laptop...

Hopefully Apple will continue making awesome external keyboards and not suddenly decide to mess this up by making them stupidly thin, or removing the extra USB ports (so useful!) or converting them to USB C so need dongles to be useful.

You are confused by this? It is because Apple have taken something away. If they took replaced the track pad with the sorry excuse that Dell or HP use, they will also be castigated for it.

This is funny. I agree that the keyboard is awful, but end-users don't seem to think the same, at least in my anecdotal experience. Both my mother and sister are avid Mac users, and when buying a new keyboard (for the workplace) they both searched for keyboards that emulated the macbook "feel". That is to say, they searched for keyboards that had the same light, floaty (horrible in my opinion) keystroke feel.

I don't know if it's a personal thing, or if you just get used to a specific type of keystroke over time, but different people like different keyboards.

> but end-users don't seem to think the same

True, but I think a lot of people feel the problem is that Apple has neglected the "Pro" aspect of the "MacBook Pro". The new pro's don't feel like a machine made for professionals; it's tailored for the average casual user. E.g. professional software developers don't need a damn touchbar. I want my effing escape key

Credits to Sod's law, I've purchased a 13' MBP without touch bar two days before Apple announced their latest upgrade to the Pro series with an "improved" keyboard design.

"How bad is the keyboard anyway?" I thought, "Is it worth the hassle to change my laptop just to get the latest keyboard design?" So I decided to keep the same laptop and give it a chance.

Two months later and today, my previous gen MBP's keyboard's "Down" arrow key on the keyboard have 50/50 chance of responding to your presses, and it's driving me crazy

The biggest mistake here are those ridiculous arrow keys

I'm on board. It's like ... Did someone discover that were not actually using up/down enough for equal arrow area?

So true! I'm always hitting up when I'm trying to hit the down arrow.

It all depends on what you want in a laptop. At work I have the largest (size, processing power, memory) MBP and I find the keyboard to be so-so; not to bad, but don’t love it. This laptop is a clunker to carry around, so optimizing for a thin keyboard doesn’t make sense to me.

For my personal laptop I have an 18 month old 12 inch MacBook and I love it. The keyboard is fine because I want my personal laptop to be small and light, with a good display.

FWIW I've writen about 60Kloc on a 2016 MacBook 12 (i.e. not "pro") and it turns out to have worked pretty well for me. All of my development is in Emacs, so I'm pretty keyboard-dependent.

That doesn't mean it's been great: I went through three of keyboards, and would be on my fourth except that the MB had an unfortunate water incident. So in two years I had almost two weeks of not having my machine available -- that's pretty bad!

New I've had a 2018 MBP for about three weeks and the keyboard is better (but the machine is a lot heavier) and so far no kbd failures. (The touchbar is pretty worthless to me but mostly harmless).

(Honestly if you're typing in a lot of code and just typing make and lldb the MB was a great ultralight machine. YEs, building our whole system took a while but mostly you're just ending and recompiling one module and it's still faster than most several-year-old machines, which in the Mac world could reasonably still be in use. It doesn't have the horsepower for those huge IDEs but I don't use them anyway. They seem to use more cycles than the compilers!)

I hated the "new" pre-2018 MBP keyboards.


But... I think with the new 2018s they've done some nice things.

You still have a stupid stupid touch bar on the 15s. I have a 13 without the touch bar, and it's a billion times better.

You still have a silly silly large track pad (and it has some bend to it in the middle... I don't like it at all).

BUT... the keys have just a tad more bounce to them. I think Apple did something to help with the dust issue, and a side effect is that the keys feel just a bit more responsive as you type.

Not saying it's great, or better than past versions, or even good yet... but it's a step in the right direction. And honestly it's probably all we'll ever get from Apple... so I'll take it. Hooray for keyboards that aren't quite as bad as the "new" pre-2018s!

> I have a 13 without the touch bar ... Hooray for keyboards that aren't quite as bad as the "new" pre-2018

Then it's a 2017 as the FN one was untouched by the 2018 refresh.

Isn't a bad keyboard part of the design, Apple has aways been removing I/O options and locking down the software. A bad keyboard is just the natural evolution of the concept.

Why should they give the average person the ability to type? Their buisness model is focused on passive consumption.

Too little, too late. Apple have gotten away with it.

Typing this on a very crappy 2018 MBP keyboard, which I absolutely hate. If it weren't for the dependency that my job has on submitting apps to the App Store, I wouldn't be using Apple for anything these days .. sad.

Is the 2018 MBP keyboard different from the 2016-2017 one?

I use a MBP 2018 and thought the keyboard was the same as the 2016-2017 MBPs (since the arrival of the touchbar).

It's understandable that you dislike the keyboard; feedback is awkward, like a shallow hard button button press as opposed to a keypress.

However, over time I have grown to prefer this keyboard over the 2015 one with the deep keys, and can actually type faster on the new one as well. The only thing I find absolutely useless and inconvenient, is the touchbar.

Glad you brought this up. I'm on the 14" 16'-17' MBP no-bar. Keyboard seems fine.

My previous 15" 14' MBP was nearly my favorite laptop experience ever. Exactly that but newer chassis and as a 14" would buy again.

(Typing since late 80s)

Honestly after a week with the new keyboards you get used to them and you don't notice them. If you're coming from a mechanical keyboard or deep-travel keyboard, it feels horrifically shallow at first, but after some time with it you cease to notice or even care. And this is what I think Apple is betting on.

If you found the 2014 MacBook Pros enjoyable, I think you'll be even happier with these. I certainly am.

I haven't honestly noticed a difference - I had a 2017 MBP last year, and this year upgraded it to the 2018 model .. they both feel like absolute junk to my hands, although I've been typing since the 70's so I've probably not got the young muscles Apple is after these days...

And yeah, I find the touchbar useless and distracting, mostly. The thing just flashes stupidly in every app I use, and I'm pretty fatigued at having to ignore it. 20 minutes usage in iTerm is enough to drive me bonkers.

Seriously hope that Apple gets its act together for next years MacBook upgrade. I regret this purchase already.

Haven't typed since the 70s, just since the early 90s, but my experience is different.

I use a MacBook Pro 2018 15 inch for daily work. I recently briefly used my MacBook Pro 2013 which has the older scissor switch keyboard. I never want to go back to that keyboard again. The newer design feels much better and allows me to type quicker.

The touch bar, yeah not very useful for me either, except for logging in with the fingerprint reader which is superb.

They are forcing us to buy new external keyboards, and it has worked, I have bought myself a mechanical keyboard that I now use with my laptop and carry around.

I am now one step closer to just be buying a tablet like an iPad with an external keyboard.

I totally agree, the new keyboard on my latest Macbook Pro is just awful to type on. I ended up buying a 60% MK and it was the best thing Ive done in a long time. So much that I have spiraled down the MK hole and now got all kinds of custom keyboards, switches, keycaps, etc. I guess I have to blame Apple for this new hobby of mine.

I got the first model with the new butterfly keyboard and the touchbar in April 2017 and I still hate it. I appreciate the idea of adding a touchbar for regular users. After all, it might be nicer for them to just press "Next Song" when using Spotify than fiddling around with Fn+F*. But for power users/developers, why do the most powerful MBP models come with these useless gimmicks? I'm using Dongles on 3/4 of the USB-C ports right now and that's not going to change anytime soon.

I wish Apple listened to developer's voices a bit more. To me, it's not a matter of price, either. I'd gladly pay more for a MBP with more/different ports and without a touchbar than I would for this model.

I like the keyboard. Programming for 10+ years and swithching sometimes to Blue Cherry MXs. What I dont like is the touchbar. Completely worthless and in the way.

There is definitely a problem with the dust though, two keys already start to act weird and I keep my tech stuff clean.

It is kind of funny (not really) how Apple went on a suicide mission with the MBP product line.

MacBooks have been doing quite well in sales for a good while, sometimes outselling competitors.


Absolutely, until they wont because people realize the shortcomings. I am a Mac user in the last ~10 years and most of this time MBPs beat competitors in many regards, making other vendors copy their solutions. As of today I have to make a decision to purchase a new laptop for somebody and MBP is not an option anymore because of the freakin' keyboard. Regardless how good the rest of it this already disqualifies it. I am certainly not the only one having issues with the newer models and soon you are going to see a decline in those numbers if Apple does not address these issues. You can't run on brand value forever.

> I am certainly not the only one having issues with the newer models

Many more people aren't having issues. Nor did I when I had an MBP (which I swapped for an iMac + 12" MB, and I'm thinking of getting the 2018 ones.) This isn't to downplay your concerns, but calling it "suicide" is hyperbole.

That is not always a good thing. High sales with a bad keyboard is one reason why we see so many people ranting, although i don't think anyone has pinpointed the real issue. Sales can be driven by reputation and now that reputation is slightly being exposed.

Those are the sales of the first Touch Bar MBP that the loud minority ranted about from the moment it was rumored. Apple's "reputation" has been getting "exposed" since the iPhone 6's BendGate, and before that the iPhone 4's AntennaGate, and since long before that:


The more things change... :)

So how come no senior executive has been fired for this and the overall scene of Macs languishing for years? This is certainly far from how Apple desires its products and product lines to be perceived and written about.

Scott Forstall was fired (IMO, for a lot less) for the Apple Maps fiasco, though he could’ve contributed a lot more to the company if he were still around.

Something seems to be rotten right from the top, and there’s no honest acknowledgement of how bad the state of affairs is on the Mac side.

Companies predictably focus on the areas where they make the most profit. For Apple, that’s clearly Phones, App Store, iTunes, even iAds. The laptop hardware and OS are clearly in a minority when compared to those big earners, so they just don’t focus any attention on them.

But as prominent writers in the Apple/Mac space have been writing for years, the state of the Mac has been terrible for a long time. The absolute requirement of having a Mac to develop software for iOS, tvOS and watchOS makes it necessary that Apple focus on the Macs — even if the range of options is limited — to produce things that will help its primary market on iOS to grow.

Selling old and outdated hardware for high prices (set during product launch time) is even more insulting to the Apple brand.

I know that Apple’s organizational structure is also to blame, but clearly it shouldn’t take so many years to even get started on fixing things and showing some results.

Apple is losing with this attitude and negligence. One can only hope that it starts showing that it is serious about walking the talk sometime soon.

This is a pretty personal opinion so feel free to disagree but Mac OS X era Apple seemed to have the same air of Unix cool as Silicon Graphics, Sun or NexT back in the day.

It was probably never true but they gave the illusion of caring intensely about making delightful products.

All that changed when Apple's market interests shifted to larger, more lucrative consumer markets. Now things like good emoji support are more important that keyboard shortcuts for window management.

Apple is doing exactly what they should for their shareholders, I guess, but since they've gone all "Barney the Dinosaur" they just doesn't have the magic anymore for me. :(

Now their stuff just feels like dodgy "smart" TVs full of janky animations and features you know some exec thought was cool for a day.

If Apple was still Apple they'd be able to make announcements at their keynotes about fundamental stuff missing from macOS like, say, package management and make it sound cool. The magic is that they'd get non-nerds to care about it too.

I find it OK to type with. Not absolutely terrible like the keyboards in the high school computer labs, and not great like <insert mechanical keyboard here> (I've never used a mechanical keyboard).

The main annoyance I have with it is that it's incredibly loud to type on when in meeting rooms, which is the only time I really use it (I have a full size Apple m=Magic Keyboard I use at my desk). It's obnoxious, especially if you're not using an external mic.

Damn. This guy almost makes it sound like this is as bad as those puck mice from the late nineties[1]. But seriously, if you bought a laptop without trying out the keyboard first, you deserve what you get. No manufacturer has a perfect track record. Try before you buy.


Apple built its brand on beautiful design.

But why do people want beautifully designed objects? Just to own something beautiful? Sure.

But also because it makes you look cool, attractive to members of the opposite sex, and earns the jealousy of yours.

But a keyboard which sucks ain't cool: sure the externals are great, but wrestling with a stuck capslock is the opposite of exuding je ne sais quoi.

Not cool Apple. Not cool. And therefore not beautiful.

> But also because it makes you look cool, attractive to members of the opposite sex, and earns the jealousy of yours.

You really think a laptop has that effect on people? I do not.

Oh absolutely! As soon as I flip open my mac in a cafe, every other patron immediately turns towards me to jealously admire my mac before slowly turning away to continue drinking their coffee and work away on their own mac...

Of course a laptop doesn't have that effect on people! I was being tongue in cheek. But beautiful objects in general - think fine art, expensive watches, etc - sure.

Meh. I've had everything from super-clicky mechanical KBs (RapidFire or something kike that) to the flat butterfly keys on the MacBook. Like learning to drive or play guitar, it becomes muscle memory after a while. I've gotten used almost everything at this point in my life. However what I will NOT accept is a virtual keyboard. I need at least some kind of tactile feedback.

The truth is that this is hardly a unique case - most Apple laptops released in the past 10 years have had serious hardware design flaws[1]. In this case it's simply a particularly noticeable/frequent issue.


The keyboard is great. It means that I get a free battery replacement about every 2 years when keys start getting stuck.

I bought my first MBP in 2017. Love the machine. Hate the keyboard. It is just very bad.

I only wished Apple acknowledged this and offered something as an apology. After all, this is what any car / phone / anything else company would do.

It's fine to make mistakes, just embrace them and send love back to your users.

Travel distance.

Without some decent amount of travel distance, a keyboard lacks feel. I type 130WPM and can not develop a rhythm on the new MacBook pros. To the day, I love the MacBook Air and previous MacBook Pros circa 2015. In fact, I may buy one on eBay. Apple, give us back travel distance.

That awful keyboard is the main reason why I haven't switched from my 2012 Macbook Pro yet

I don't understand why everyone is so unhappy with it. Am I the only one absolutely loves this keyboard? I think this is the best keyboard on any laptop, and I wish I could have an external keyboard that is just like this one.

It's a great keyboard ... when it's working. It's just not very robust.

I feel I'm the only person in the universe that's never had an issue with the keyboard, and actively likes it (I don't like much key travel, but I do like clicky keyboards)

ok here's one thing almost no one mentions and is hard for me to understand: i do almost all of my development work on my desk, where i have an external keyboard of my liking connected to my macbook. i only use the macbook's keyboard when i'm travelling, and mostly for typing the first 2 letters of the website i want to open on my browser. don't understand why people fuss about so much about the keyboard: if you don't like it just use an external one. what am i missing?

Why would any developer prefer a Macbook running MacOS, over a Thinkpad running Linux? Thinkpads give you a full control hardware, and Linux gives you a full control of software.

If you're developing iOS or macOS software, you need a Mac.

If you want to do live browser testing in all major browsers, you need a Mac, and you can do it with no other hardware, as you can virtualise all of Windows/Linux/Android/iOS under macOS.

Based on https://support.lenovo.com/us/en/solutions/pd031426, Lenovo support for Linux distro's is a mixed bag of "fuck you" and "Enterprise Edition", so "full control" is likely to mean "Full Responsibility", too.

Why would any developer prefer to run a hardware/software combination that has zero support if something fails, and predictably endless issue volleyball between h/w and s/w vendors if you happen to use one of the specific combinations that has support, over running hardware and software that is supported by a single company?

Personally, I prefer to spend my working hours actually making money. If you prefer to be endlessly tweaking kernel parameters or driver settings because you updated some software and now your trackpad works in reverse, well then good luck to you sir.

> If you're developing iOS or macOS software, you need a Mac.

I agree, that's probably the only valid reason for a developer to prefer a Macbook over a Thinkpad: if he needs to develop software for Apple hardware. But in the age of React Native and Electron, I never had to develop specifically for iOS / MacOS.

> Lenovo support for Linux distro's is a mixed bag of "fuck you" and "Enterprise Edition", so "full control" is likely to mean "Full Responsibility", too.

In practice, most Linux desktop distributions are developed and tested by people working on Thinkpads. In a non-Apple world, it's the OS developers who decide what hardware they support, not the hardware company.

> If you prefer to be endlessly tweaking kernel parameters or driver settings because you updated some software and now your trackpad works in reverse, well then good luck to you sir.

I don't remember having to tweak a single thing on my default Linux desktop installation since 2013. Everything just works out of the box, if you pick Fedora Workstation or Ubuntu, and your hardware wasn't released 5 days ago.

> Personally, I prefer to spend my working hours actually making money.

Yet, I see here people spending their working hours complaining about the hardware they bought from Apple, and the software Apple shipped to them with that hardware, as if they had no other choice in life.

> probably the only valid reason

It's a bad sign you're already talking in absolutes.

> in the age of React Native and Electron, I never had to

So, you release apps that you've literally never tested on the platforms you support? I bet they work great.

Arguing that Electron is a reason not to use a Mac, is like arguing that McDonalds is a reason not to learn how to cook.

> most Linux desktop distributions are developed and tested by people working on Thinkpads

Great and I assume they'll be on-call to fix your issues at 3am when something goes wrong?

> it's the OS developers who decide what hardware they support

So.. it's "full control", so long as you pick a distro whose developers/maintainers have chosen to support the combination of devices in the laptop spec you chose.... sounds great.

> if you pick Fedora or Ubuntu

So now it's "full control" so long as you pick one of two distros, and hardware that meets their requirements to support...

> Yet, I see here people spending their working hours

Oh, I must have missed the new "posting during work hours" flag.

Also - I'd argue that most people on HN don't get paid hourly, they're paid a salary, so if they fuck around on HN for 40 minutes whinging about their laptop, it doesnt actually cost them anything.

> as if they had no other choice in life

Of course their are choices. I didn't reply to you because you said "I use Distro X on Hardware Y and it works great", I replied because you said "Why would any developer prefer a Macbook running MacOS, over a Thinkpad running Linux?".

People complain about "personal anecdotal evidence" being pretty low value - but it's still fucking better value than making blanket, absolute statements, which upon further digging are in fact nuanced with layer after layer of caveats and unstated details.

What I said, is that buying Apple hardware just to be able to test iOS / MacOS software doesn't make much sense, unless you work as a iOS / MacOS developer. I don't. And I never stated, that Electron is a reason not to use MacOS.

There are hundreds of Linux desktop distributions, because unlike in the Apple-world, PC users actually do have a choice. I mentioned the ones I have most experience with, because I cannot recommended to others what I haven't used extensively myself.

I was forced to work on MacOS for a year, and even though it was much better than Windows, it was still far away from the experience a complete Linux workstation can provide to a developer.


I probably am, because it's still hard to believe, how much people can be attached to a single brand, even when they notice, that its products start to suck.

Because, in the opinion of some, nothing beats macOS, or ever has.

Your question has been answered on the internet so many times that I have a hard time believing anyone asks it in good faith anymore.

Convenience > control

I experienced much more inconvenience as a developer working on MacOS, than I did on Linux. That's why I am asking this. It would be interesting to know, how many developers using Macbooks haven't even tried running desktop Linux in the recent years. There is no comparison, unless you are tied to Apple software.

openvpn. I can provide more reasons, but that one is the absolute dealbreaker.

Wireguard is already here. And it works.

I'm a consultant and every company I work with uses openvpn with google authenticator.

I feel less old with a Mac.

That's probably why they started making silver Thinkpads.

I could have lived with all its faults if the arrow keys were remotely usable. They are not. I challenge you to blindly find the up arrow without pressing the down arrow.

Ive recently replaced mine under warranty and rep hinted that they’ve reworked it and fixed the original sticky key problems. Time will tell. My broke under a year.

Getting real tired of the Apple apologists spinning it that Apple keyboards have never been reliable and this is perfectly normal. My TiBook G4 still works at 16 years of age, my 2006 Alu iMac keyboard is still used daily, my 4 year old MBP keyboard works fine. My 8 month old USB-C MBP has key deadzones and 5 glitchy keys and a few keys significantly louder than others.

It’s crazy how apple managed to turn my most loved machine into my most hated with just a single design update.

You know what's worse? Their bluetooth keyboard is not backlit so you can't use that as an alternative either.

It really is bad.

I'm so close to "office-spacing" this keyboard.

They should make a Cherry MX MBP. that would be badass.


Could you please stop posting unsubstantive comments to Hacker News?

This one in particular broke the site guidelines - see the last bit of https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html.

absolutely agree. The new keyboard is such utter garbage. Awful, awful design. I am positive that Ive approves these designs without actually using them. In a photo they look "magical" (fk me, how pathetic), but in use they are nothing but garbage, what a shame.

The bio for Natasha Lomas states that she is a senior reporter for TechCrunch. Reporters don't generally write one-sided opinion pieces like this. TechCrunch should make it clear that this is not in any sense a news article or a product review.


> Reporters don't generally write one-sided opinion pieces like this.

First, they do, and they do it often. Second, it's not just a personal biased opinion without any factual basis.

Can you name one reporter at The New York Times or The Wall Street Journal who writes opinion pieces in the paper on a regular basis? Just asking.

This may be a bit off topic, forgive me.

Last spring my laptop running linux finally gave up and I decided to give the MBP a try.

The pros:

- MUCH better hardware than anything else on the market.

- The keyboard is great for me. Leaving mech keys on desktop doesn't feel as bad as it used to. I haven't encountered any inconsistency this article complains about with so many words--maybe I'm an outlier.

- MacOS requires just about zero maintenance.

- Better consumer software (DRM) compatibility (audible, hbogo, etc).

- Better creative software compatibility.

- The OS is pretty well tuned for battery life (I'm sure linux can be, I just didn't expend the effort).

The cons:

- Much more difficult to customize. I do miss just how tuned I got my linux setup with a tiling WM (i3). I haven't lost significant productivity though.

- Brew is not a first class package manager. Pacman/AUR and apt are a dream for developers.

- Boot time is noticeably slower. At least it don't drop you into the OS with about 1,000 other processes in the scheduler like windows does.

This list is not exhaustive. But I'd not feel bad saying that the MBP is the best laptop experience. On a side note I also switched to iOS from android and am similarly satisfied.

For a no fuss, non free eco-system apple is still king despite any recent stumbles.

In the old days, No one are using Mac for work apart form small group of Professional Artist. Steve Jobs hated the I.T of Cooperate Enterprise because they get to decide what their employees should use, not the user themselves.

One of the famous quote from Steve " If we succeed, they will buy them, if we don't, they won't! It will all sort itself out" [1].

The problem now are Apple products are getting bought no matter what they make. Businesses are now buying more Mac than ever. Whether we like it or not. The sales figure aren't showing how we vote with our wallet. The Mac Ecosystem has morphed itself into a mini PC market where its replacement unit are sustainable for the Mac business as a whole. There should be now close to ~120M Mac users and an annual 25M Mac sales unit, healthy for a 4 years replacement cycle.

And it is frustrating because 3 years after this Keyboard introduction and despite many of its users best effort and cried for improvement. Nothing has been done. The 2018 MacBook Pro keyboard are still getting double click and non working keys on Reddit and twitter. ( Sorry I can no longer locate the thread ). I guess more reports will come in as time pass by. And it is not as quiet as the MacBook Air Keyboard either.

[1] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=65_PmYipnpk

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