How Bad Is Apple's Keyboard Problem? Even Hollywood Recognises It

Gif: Variety, Twitter

It’s almost gotten to the point where Apple is as well known for its terrible keyboards as it is for changing the world with personal computers and smartphones. But now that the latest cause to be championed at the Academy Awards is Apple’s hardware failures, maybe we’ll finally get the MacBook keyboards of our dreams.

After winning the Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay for his film Jojo Rabbit, Taika Waititi was asked by a journalist what writers should be asking for in the next round of talks between producers and the writers guild. Instead of addressing issues like wages and credits, Waititi instead brought some much-needed attention to an issue that’s near and dear to our own hearts: the awful butterfly keyboards that Apple’s been pushing on its users for years.

“Apple needs to fix those keyboards. They are impossible to write on, they’ve gotten worse, it makes me want to go back to PCs because PC keyboards, the bounce back for your fingers is way better... way better keyboard. Those Apple keyboards are horrendous.”

Apple’s butterfly keyboard design was introduced back in 2015 with a dramatic decrease in key travel that allowed the company to make its laptop computers even thinner. Not only was the typing experience far from ideal for most users, but the butterfly mechanisms that were used under each keycap were prone to easily breaking and failing, resulting in Apple expanding its Keyboard Service Program and offering free repairs to users. In mid-2019, the company attempted to salvage its low-profile keyboard design by switching to a smoother, sturdier, nylon plastic in the mechanism, but it soon became apparent that it was more of a Band-aid solution than a genuine fix to a fundamentally problematic design.

In late 2019 Apple finally revealed a redesigned keyboard on its latest generation 16-inch MacBook Pro that, from our testing, solves almost all the problems introduced with the company’s butterfly mechanism design. But the new keyboard is currently only available on the pricey 16-inch MacBook Pro; Apple’s top of the line laptop. We’re are still waiting for it to be introduced on the smaller, more affordable, 13-inch MacBook Pro, MacBook Air, or whatever other laptops Apple presumably has planned for rollout in 2020. We’re already into February and there’s no sign of when they’ll arrive, but maybe Hollywood just lit a fire under Apple’s butt?

As was apparent with its star-studded introduction of its Apple TV+ streaming service last March, Apple is desperate to garner the same acclaim that Netflix has in Hollywood, whose films Marriage Story and The Irishman both earned multiple Oscar nominations. It’s dumping millions of dollars into prestige TV and films, but simply fixing the hardware that most of Hollywood’s writers use to bang out scripts would go a long way to helping Apple get in with the cool kids, if you will.

Waititi’s comments on Apple’s keyboards were meant as more of a lighthearted jab than a call to action to boycott the company’s hardware, but he did use the Oscars as a platform to threaten a return to using a PC if the keyboard problem persists. Those are strong words for an Apple user, but maybe it’s exactly what’s needed so the rest of us can finally upgrade away from Apple’s biggest hardware failure in recent years.

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