Should Apple make a keyboard less prone to problems from debris? Yes, of course. But in the meantime, is a $13 keyboard cover a good idea to fix a $1,300+ machine? Also Yes. A minor inconvenience to have to buy, but at least it fixes it for good... and I've never seen it mentioned on HN before so thought I'd share in case it helps others.
Can you imagine a process where Apple takes that recommendation and walks it up the chain internally to get it offered alongside the repair for free? Not a good look.
That is an interesting twist. I hadn't thought of that, and display is surely an expensive repair.. which reminds me, I need to repair the bezel on my macbook pro..
(I do transit with my macbook in my backpack, which is a likely cause of the rub marks)
(My previous MacBook Air did get the key marks on the display, and that was without any cover. So I'm guessing it depends on the model of MacBook.)
If you're not having trouble with any other key, your keyboard probably works fine. Keep that dust cover on!
They did the same thing to the Eject key: They put a hardware DELAY on it, so you couldn't remap it to be a real Delete key.
How can Apple work so hard to screw up a KEYBOARD? Incredible.
We don't moan about Copy, Paste or Undo because those have not traditionally been on any keyboards, as they are too recent.
The others are Iannoying because we're very used to having dedicated keys for them, and they are very common actions, and it's faster to use a single key. Yes, I can press FN+Backspace to do a Delete... but why when it's such a common operation?!
Home, Page Down etc are the worst though, as I can still never remember the correct key combos, and peck around trying different variations before cursing and using the mouse instead.
What I don't understand is how Mac users put up with this!
Appeal to tradition, not a real argument.
> it's faster to use a single key.
This isn't self-evident as you make it out to be. Depends on keyboard layout and the typist. For me it's usually faster to press a combo than reach for that far-flung dedicated key.
> Yes, I can press FN+Backspace to do a Delete... but why when it's such a common operation?!
That's arguable, and even so, I don't see why it's worse. It even makes sense that a modifier alters the direction of deletion. Notice that on the mac keyboard the backspace says delete on it, not backspace.
> What I don't understand is how Mac users put up with this!
Maybe Mac users honor their traditions?
What people are used to seems a valid enough argument to me...
> This isn't self-evident as you make it out to be. Depends on keyboard layout and the typist. For me it's usually faster to press a combo than reach for that far-flung dedicated key.
I don't have references of course, but it really does seem self-evident to me. Take FN-Backspace vs Delete as an example - I need to use keys on opposite sides of the keyboard, vs a single Delete key that's next to the Backspace key, so I don't buy your "far flung" keys argument. Also, I don't know what kind of massive keyboard you're using if keys are "far flung" ;)
> Maybe Mac users honor their traditions?
I was being sarcastic with that final quip, but that seems fair enough to me.
Afterwards I used a Ghostcover and recommend it strongly. It slightly degrades the feel of an already bad-feeling keyboard, but not hard to get used to, and it completely solves the reliability issue. A band-aid for an absurd problem.
Basically the only time you experience the actual design is during unboxing.
(source: repair guy from my local apple repair shop)
That cost, what, $5 to make and ship? Or, at Apple's scale, $.50? I think it's inexcusable.
If the cover costs .05$ (which I bet is 5x it's cost) - the rest is all of the packaging/printing/logistics/shipping/etc.
My question is if a solution so cheap is available, why can't they just fix the root issue of the keyboard?
It ruins the feel of the keyboard. Sure, it blocks crumbs and such from getting in the keys but that's not really the issue with the keyboard.
The mechanism is just crap and fails. This doesn't do anything to prevent that.
And the issue is debris with the new keyboards. I haven't heard anyone complaining about a failing mechanism. Everyone's complaining about dust and debris getting into the mechanism which prevents or multiplies keypresses.
$13 is expensive too, someone is making some cash... I'm in Vietnam, they are about $4-5 here (obviously, proximity to China certainly helps).
Does the laptop only cost about $400-500 in Vietnam? If so, I know what I'm doing next time I holiday in Vietnam!
Sadly, laptops are expensive due to the way customs works in Vietnam. =(
Fixed while I waited.
They are making them unrepairable by anyone other than Apple. Even if you think you will get it fixed under warranty you may be told there is water damage even if there isn't any  and then you're left with a 3k paper weight.
According to many Louis Rossman video, nearly every design had some serious design flaws.
My touchbar 15” MBP has been entirely replaced once. Had everything but the bottom case (which I believe has no components) replaced twice. Screen and logic board replaced twice. Power AC adapter died. Keys stuck frequently.
If you buy an Apple MacBook you should consider twice unless you live near an actual Apple Store. Repairs in Bali (no Apple store in Indonesia) take 6+ weeks. I’ve taken 7 international return flights to have mine repaired because it’s my primary “professional” work device.
Another thing that’s a strange Hw decision. You can no longer remove the SSD and place it in a USB adapter. Apple put some proprietary socket on the MB so they can access the SSD in case of logic board failure. It failed on both occasions they tried to use it for me.
What? Almost each generation of MBP has had serious problems. Both NVIDIA and ATI graphics that would die, bad SSD's, defetive batteries, failing motherboars....
Those are quite more reliable. Mines have only fallen apart after 5 years of daily intense use.
A great thing of these keyboards is that travel is small, but not too small, making latency great compared to regular mechanical keyboards.
There is nothing wrong with the 2015's size and feel. It does not need to be lighter than that. Losing basics like an internal HDMI port and SD card slot are not acceptable for me as a media professional - period - for whatever tradeoff.
I don't want to have to dig some adapter out of my bag because the manufacturer of the laptops I've used for almost two decades has suddenly gone daft, prioritizing thinness over the device actually functioning, even as effectively as the previous units, that I have ardently supported for years (I still use an iMac G4 every day for cartoons and random drawings in Flash.)
Don't even get me started on the SSD/RAM being soldered to the Logic Board, either - I'm not even sure if other manufacturers are doing this, but to a girl who used to build her own towers from scratch, is not particularly wealthy, but also not particularly poor, and has counted on upgrading her devices for years to get value out of them when she can later afford it - this feels like an actual slap in the face.
I would personally never purchase a personal computer that I would e.g. do development on, that I could not remove the hard drive of myself, even if just for data recovery purposes.
Nice strawman, but portability has long since been achieved.
You say you prioritize usability but then defend an idiotic and regressive design that impedes usability so disgracefully that even Apple has had to admit failure.
The trackpads are another failure, being way too big and thus suffering from spurious contacts from the heels of your hands. Why didn't Apple at least make the giant trackpads useful by having the Pencil work on them?
I’m not defending the design, I’m defending Apple’s prioritization of portability in their laptop lineup. The fact Apple is retreating on the keyboard design is evidence enough that that particular design choice was a failure. Doesn’t mean their priorities are wrong though even if you _personally_ disagree with it.
I'd bet that things like having or not having a car dictate a lot of our everyday carry choices - it has for me. Now I'm wondering if an iPad Mini is too small...
Of course, one is sometimes a proxy for the other, but it's not a given.
I also travel a lot, and want a thin, lightweight laptop - but it must be functional, reliable and have excellent battery life; I don't care a jot if the next generation is 1mm thinner than the last if it means sacrificing keyboard usability and reliability, battery life and cooling.
We past the point where thinness was an issue a long time ago. Now it's just a pissing contest.
There are people that need them, get the most out of the least weight, frown at the bad stabilities of the 2015 era switches (and yes, I love the butterflies), not using the fn keys, e.g.
I get that, you’re not the target market. That doesn’t justify reverting everything the new MBP has.
I just can’t understand why all HNers get from ‘I hate the MBP’ to ‘Apple is wrong!’.
There is a reason why the MBPs from '16 -'18 is one of the most successful ones; the touchbar, the butterfly keyboards, soldered SSDs are there for a reason.
Well, the iMac didn’t provide an option to install floppy disks as well!
If you believe they are crucial, then you should just buy another company’s computer.
Nobody is forcing anybody to buy the new MBPs.
My theory on Apple's design process with the MBP is they put all their efforts on the first 60 seconds with the product. The touchpad is the first thing you touch in a store, the bright colorful screen, and the very cool look the flat keyboard gives to the whole machine contribute a lot to the first impression.
The finger pains, the electric conductivity and heavy weight of the aluminium, the reflective screen, those are things you suffer from only once you've already bought the product.
One can kindof squint and see the touchbar as a situational affordance, maybe even a preference, but a need on a computing form factor that's already had a touch surface + changeable display for the last two decades?
And are you seriously arguing that there was some key threshold of utility that was crossed in losing the ~4 oz between 2015 and 2017 models that was worth sacrificing keyboard function&reliability AND the utility of being able swap out the SSD?
The fact that it was like that for the last two decades don’t mean that the TB isn’t needed.
I use it daily, I cannot imagine myself going back to a MacBook without the touchbar.
> And are you seriously arguing [...] ~4oz between 2015 and 2017 models that was worth
There are lots of people that believe the lighter weight is worth the unswappable SSD/RAM.
> sacrificing keyboard function
No, the butterfly switches boost my productivity; they have numerous advantages. Just because some people like deep keys don’t mean butterflies are terrible.
The '16/17 model’s reliability were terrible; the '18 models aren’t.
It’s a fixed problem, unless people hate Apple.
Nope, see: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=20621436
And besides, of course the newer device is going to have a lower failure rate so far (unless they've screwed up even harder than Apple normally does). You have to compare the failure rate at the same point into the product's lifecycle.
> unless people hate Apple.
It's hard not to, when they are so eager to give people more reasons.
That's exactly what it means if you start to think about what laptop interfaces really are. On a form factor that already has one touch surface and plenty of display area -- and where the overwhelming form of interaction that isn't through the keyboard is manipulating on-display objects using the traditional touch surface -- the specific value of adding additional touch surface with additional display is necessarily going to be marginal. Occupying the same space is mildly novel, but it's never going to be the same value-add that bringing touch surface to a mobile device was. There's literally nothing that can be done with it that can't be done without it.
Now, maybe there's some specific marginal utility gains, but notably, you didn't even pick one to put up against living w/o the touchbar, so it appears you can't even make your own argument. Whether you use it every day is no more a point in its favor than the fact that people use/used escape, function, and utility keys every day.
> There are lots of people that believe the lighter weight is worth the unswappable SSD/RAM.
There aren't even lots of people that can reliably distinguish the a difference of 4 ounces between two ~4lb objects by feel. I'd bet there aren't even that many people who know what that weight difference is. Which makes idea that the prospective market actually thought through that and concluded "oh, yeah, this is a fair tradeoff" is pretty tenuous.
If you want a semi-plausible argument, go for the idea that expandability/maintenance isn't something the "target market" thinks about. That's still odd for a pro model, but it's plausible for prosumer/luxury consumers.
> the butterfly switches boost my productivity; they have numerous advantages
Again, none of which you listed.
> It’s a fixed problem, unless people hate Apple.
Stats? Because there's enough anecdotal evidence to suggest it's not entirely fixed.
And the idea that people complaining about the recent features is an audience of people who just hate apple is provably false, as evidenced by the fact that many of those complaining loudest prefer earlier Apple models.
But if, as a media professional in both film and audio, and as a professional software developer for iOS - the detriments of their newer hardware unfortunately vastly, vastly outweigh any potential performance gain - what 'Pro' segment is Apple aiming for, exactly? Whose needs are they fulfilling?
Please suggest an alternative that runs macOS and has up-to-date internals.
> There is a reason why the MBPs from '16 -'18 is one of the most successful ones
They are? That's news to me. Anecdotally, I almost exclusively see older Macs, but I don't know how much of that is due to dislike of the new models vs upgrades being expensive in general.
Or get a simple-ass dongle that has SD card USB ports on one end and USB-C on the other. These cost like $10, literally, without HDMI of course.
All this said, I miss the keyboard of older MbPs when working on my 2017 MBP. Enough that if I’m docked I use a mechanical keyboard OR lately I’ve been using an Apple wireless keyboard set directly in front of my laptop, ha ha.
In my Satechi dongle, that other USB-C port is for charging only, not true USB. Sigh.
It's been like this since I got it. I took it to an Apple Store not long after that, but they said it was OK, and all this was perfectly normal..
The touchbar is also just unbelievably bad - just give me my Escape and function keys back, dammit!
What am absolutely loathsome device!
I'm mainly a Windows user, and this was my first ever Mac. It's also the last, unless I need one for work, in which case I'll still do everything I can on Windows.
^ Actual title of a recently posted video
We've been able to successfully make keyboards for... 60 years? Typewriters are 140 years old.
Now we have a $1300 machine where the form dictates that the functionality will be so hampered that we're using what would have been a supercomputer 30 years ago to... debounce keys?
Seriously? And people think this whole charade is acceptable and worth patching around?
Also, can't you do the same thing in System Preferences->Keyboard->Delay Until Repeat?
That's what this is preventing, because the bad keyboards will register multiple key press events for a single press.
If I knew it would take this long I would probably just go with this if I really needed my laptop.
The tactile touch is noticeably different (more "rubbery") and some of the modifier keys (ctrl/opt) look different. It definitely feels like a welcome upgrade.
They fought me on the first one saying that I broke the keyboard. I lost 1 more week on the phone with Apple support to force them do the repairs free..
No. Fuck that free replacement program.
This only addresses part of the issue. If your keyboard is repeating keys, then it is likely not registering keypresses as well.
There's no software fix for that.
Is it due to a ‘faulty/lemon’ state that these keyboards get into?
I guess it could also be related to typing style? I’m not a home row user and I don’t do any gaming.