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Apple extends MacBook Pro keyboard service program to 2018 models

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Apple is extending its service program for MacBook and MacBook Pro keyboard repairs to include models released in 2018, and it making it faster for end-users as well.

Apple announced the extension on Tuesday. Originally, Apple launched its service program in 2018 for a "small percentage" of MacBook and MacBook Pro models exhibiting keyboard failures in 2018, in answer to complaints of alleged flaws in the design of the butterfly keyboard mechanism. The program enables customers who experienced repeating characters, unresponsive, or sticky keys, to bring their MacBook to Apple or an Apple Authorized Service Provider for a free service.

Initially the program covered models of the Retina 12-inch MacBook, 13-inch MacBook Pro, and 15-inch MacBook Pro released between 2015 and 2017, but did not include those released in 2018. In the extension, the program now covers servicing of the previously-excluded 2018 models.

For today's also-announced updates to the MacBook Pro, Apple has refined the design of the keyboard to try and reduce the number of unresponsive or double-typing key instances. During a call to media, Apple advised some existing owners of the 13-inch and 15-inch MacBook Pro with Touch Bar that use the third-generation keyboard may find their keyboards replaced with one of the newer variants.

Apple updated the design of the third-generation butterfly mechanism in 2018 to include a thin silicone membrane, which encased the mechanism with a film around the sides. It is thought the membrane is an attempt to make the keys quieter as well as helping to prevent debris from interfering with the mechanism, but Apple has so far only advised of its quietening nature.

Independent testing of the third-generation's membrane tested the theory that it protected the mechanism, but found that it didn't work that effectively, with fine dust pushed to the edges to keep the mechanism clear, but failing under larger quantities of debris.

Apple has so far issued an apologetic statement over more recent complaints about the 2018 mechanism, reiterating similar communications on the matter in advising issues only affected a small number of users.

AppleInsider's accumulation of repair service data from March indicated the failure rate of the 2018 model's keyboards was lower than the 2016 versions, but about the same as the 2017 models, despite the addition of the membrane.