Apple introduced a major change on its MacBook lineup in 2016 by switching to USB Type-C port, and adding a Touch Bar that replaced the function keys on the keyboard. However, the design has not been well received, and it also led to a shallow keyboard design. But the company might have some fix in the works for the keyboard.
According to a patent application made public on Thursday, Apple might be designing a MacBook keyboard that will prevent crumbs and dust from getting stuck around those super-shallow keys. “Liquid ingress around the keys into the keyboard can damage electronics. Residues from such liquids may corrode or block electrical contacts, getting in the way of key movement and so on,” the patent application reads.
The application further describers how Apple plans to mitigate the issue of dust getting stuck in the shallow keyboard. Apple is planning careful application of gaskets, brushes, wipers or flaps that will block gaps beneath the keycaps. One of the solution mentioned includes a membrane beneath each key that effectively insulates the interior of the keyboard from the exterior. Another solution describes using each keypress as a “bellows” to force contaminants out of the keyboard.
“A keyboard assembly [could include] a substrate, a key cap, and a guard structure extending from the key cap that funnels contaminants away from the movement mechanism,” the patent application describes how the new solution will work.
Apple’s refreshed MacBook Pro lineup did not receive the critical acclaim that usually expected from the new laptops. Most users criticized the device for its shallow keyboard, and disappointing battery life. Some also complained that the touch bar lacks support for major applications. But the most disappointing of all the issues was the keyboard getting ruined by dust.
It is not immediately clear when the change described in this patent will make its way to the MacBook lineup. The patent does have a solution to a real world problem, and we can only hope the change will reflect with the 2018 MacBook models.