How Apple Finally Fixed Their Frustrating Keyboards
The MacBook’s ‘butterfly’ keyboard has been maligned for years, and they’ve finally returned to the old design
Recently the MacBook’s Magic Keyboard made its way into the product line. Even before many customers got their hands on it, the keyboard has garnered a lot of fans. Why? Because Apple has finally recognized that they messed up and decided to switch back from the butterfly mechanism to the tried-and-true scissor-switch mechanism.
To really understand how and why the Magic Keyboard appeared, we need to look at the story behind how keyboards have been designed in the past few years.
Why was the Apple butterfly keyboard created in the first place?
The butterfly mechanism was initially designed to improve the user’s typing experience. The intention was in the right place. The execution was what was flawed. The butterfly mechanism made its debut with the refreshed Apple MacBook in 2015 — the successor to the famous all-plastic white one they had many years earlier.
The 2015 Apple MacBook was designed to be ultra-thin and sleek. The butterfly mechanism made the keyboard thinner, thereby enabling the laptop itself to be a few millimeters thinner than the previous designs. A few millimeters is big deal for Apple and the tech world at large.
In addition, Apple wanted to make a quieter keyboard. The previous scissor mechanism had a little bit of clunky sound to it. (Though many people actually like the keyboard clicks. Even the Apple Settings app on the iPhone offers a keyboard click sound as an option.)
Finally, Apple wanted to add additional stability to the keys, to ensure that pressing the key at any point on the surface would activate the key. If you press at the corners of a key on your traditional keyboard, you’ll see it sometimes doesn’t press the key. (Most people are used to this, and I’d argue it doesn’t really affect the user’s typing as much as Apple claimed it did.)