Conflicting information distributed inside Apple about reason for silicone MacBook Pro keyboard seal
A pair of documents covering Apple's service policies and procedures conflict on the reasoning for the silicone gasket around the key mechanisms in the new 2018 MacBook Pro.
Apple service providers are given details on how to handle repairs on a new product at about the same time as the product releases. One version of this document was cited by French website MacGeneration on Thursday morning, with that version from July 14, and possibly earlier, saying that the seal will also act to cut back on dust and debris entering the mechanism.
MacGeneration has no country of origin on its version of the documentation, but after talking to the publication about it, we believe the information provided came from a legitimate source.
AppleInsider has access to the same documentation in the United States. Even after three revisions since publication, the U.S. documentation has never made such a claim that the gasket would "prevent debris from entering the butterfly mechanism," but retains identical language about the space bar replacement technique, as well as in the remainder of the captured document.
Apple's marketing copy has always maintained that the new keyboard is quieter, and has said nothing about it improving reliability.
There have been a number of cases where the butterfly key mechanism has caused keyboard issues for the 2016 and 2017 MacBook Pro, as well as the MacBook, including repeated characters, unresponsive keys, and other similar issues. The problems prompted Apple to launch a keyboard service program for the issue, with affected users able to receive free servicing on their notebooks.
The new keyboard is touted as being quieter while typing, likely in part due to the addition of a silicone membrane surrounding each butterfly mechanism. It is plausible the membrane could help prevent dust and debris from interfering with the mechanism, with the lower volume potentially being a side effect of its inclusion.
The membrane is not a perfect seal, however. There are gaps to allow the keycap to connect to the keyboard, and a larger one in the center of the cap.
The 2018 MacBook Pro keyboard, claimed by Apple to be quieter than the second and first-generation butterfly switch designs used in the 2016 and 2017 MacBook Pro and MacBook releases, won't be offered to owners of earlier models if they are brought into an Apple Store or an Apple Authorized Service Provider for servicing.
Confirmed by AppleInsider sources within Apple corporate not authorized to speak on behalf of the company, the earlier MacBook Pro units will receive the same keyboard design as they already have, not the new version. At this time, only the 2018 MacBook Pro will receive the new design if maintenance is required.