Why Apple Gave Up On The Butterfly Keyboard


If you’ve been following Apple closely this
year then you realize that 2019 could be considered the year of the Mac. Back in June Apple announced the new Mac Pro
and Pro Display XDR, while in November they unveiled the 16-inch MacBook Pro. And while both machines feature some incredible
new technology, they also feature some familiar old technology. The Mac Pro gave up its unified thermal core
technology and compact cylindrical design, instead reverting back to a more traditional
modular design with three cooling fans. And when it came to the 16-inch MacBook Pro,
Apple gave up on the butterfly key mechanism used in every MacBook model since 2015, instead
reverting to the old scissor mechanism. So why exactly did Apple give up on features
like the butterfly keyboard and unified thermal core, after they claimed those technologies
made their products better? Well, that’s exactly what we’re going
to find out. This is Greg with Apple Explained, and I want
to thank NordPass for sponsoring this video. If you want to help decide which topics I
cover, make sure you’re subscribed and voting polls like this one will show up in your mobile
activity feed. Now I want to start off this video by providing
some background information. Because many of you probably don’t know
the story behind the butterfly keyboard, which is important in understanding why Apple is
giving it up. It all started in 2015, when the 12 inch MacBook
was introduced. Apple wanted the notebook to be the thinnest
and lightest they’d ever made. And that’s exactly what the 12 inch MacBook
was, coming in at half an inch at its thickest point and weighing just over two pounds. That made it both thinner and lighter than
the 11” MacBook Air. But in order to achieve these aggressive specs,
Apple had to make some compromises. First, only one USB-C port was included, which
forced users to buy adapters in order to connect pretty much anything, including an iPhone. Also, the keyboard had to be made thinner
in order to accommodate the MacBooks design. That’s why Apple created a new butterfly
key mechanism that had a lower profile than the traditional scissor mechanism. But when introducing these changes, Apple
didn’t admit they were design compromises. Instead, they were features. Apple told us that not only was their butterfly
keyboard 40% thinner, but its keys were 4x more stable and 17% larger. Allowing for a satisfying and precise typing
experience. But that claim was hard for many to believe,
especially after the initial reviews came in. Dan Ackerman from Cnet wrote “The first
time I tried the keyboard, I couldn’t get through even a few sample sentences without
several typos, because of the shallow keys and their lower level of tactile feedback.” Andy Vandervell from Trusted Reviews wrote,
“Some people won’t like the shallow feel – it didn’t take me long to get up to
speed, but I can’t guarantee everyone will adapt as easily.” Vandervell went on to say, “Arguably the
worst thing about the new keyboard is how noisy it is – I’m more aggressive in my
typing than typical, so I had to make a conscious effort to type more gently in public spaces.” And that was a complaint echoed by many users,
who were annoyed by how loud the butterfly keyboard was, something Apple never mentioned
during the MacBooks introduction. Something else many of you may find annoying,
is having to remember all your passwords across all your devices. And that’s where NordPass comes in. You can save all of your passwords in their
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to nordpass.com/apple, or use coupon code apple, you can find that link in the description. Now, the initial concerns about the butterfly
keyboard were only the beginning, as a new issue would make it one of the biggest design
mistakes in Apple’s history. You see, because the butterfly mechanism was
so thin and had hardly any travel, it was easy for debris to accumulate and eventually
force the key to fail. Another issue was that users couldn’t remove
the key caps without breaking the butterfly mechanism. So if a key stopped working, you couldn’t
even remove the key cap to try and clean it out. Instead, you had to have the entire keyboard
replaced which could cost $700 out of warranty. And this was bad news for Apple, since they
had used the same butterfly mechanism in their new MacBook Pro and MacBook Air models. So if the keyboard was truly faulty, it would
be a problem across their entire notebook line, instead of being isolated to just the
12 inch MacBook. The issue became widespread in just a couple
years and led to a class-action lawsuit being filed in May 2018. Just one month later, Apple acknowledged the
problem and launched a repair program for faulty MacBook and MacBook Pro models. Now it’s worth mentioning that Apple tried
to remedy the durability issues with their butterfly keyboard. Their first attempt came with the third generation
keyboard which featured a silicon membrane under the key caps to prevent debris from
entering the butterfly mechanism. This change wasn’t publicly announced by
Apple, but it was confirmed privately in an internal service readiness guide for the MacBook
Pro. And in with the fourth generation butterfly
keyboard, Apple again tried to make the mechanism more durable by switching from a silicon membrane
to a nylon one, in addition to changing the form of the thin polymer coating on the bottom
of the key switch. But according to iFixit, the fundamental flaw
of the butterfly mechanism persisted despite Apple’s attempts to solve the problem. So with users complaining about the shallow
key travel, high failure rate, and expensive repair costs, in addition to a legitimate
class action lawsuit and a multiple failed attempts at solving the issue, Apple finally
gave up on the butterfly keyboard and just two months ago introduced the new 16 inch
MacBook Pro. With one of it’s headlining features being
a new magic keyboard which uses the old scissor mechanism. Now you’d assume Apple would point out that
the new keyboard is more durable, but if you read through their official press release,
you’ll notice that durability isn’t mentioned even once. Instead, Apple touts the new keyboard “delivers
1mm of key travel” and “features a physical Escape key and an inverted-“T” arrangement
for the arrow keys.” Both of which are features of their old keyboards
from over a decade ago. So although Apple won’t come out and admit
their butterfly keyboard was a failed idea that should’ve never seen the light of day,
they have made it clear that sometimes you don’t need to reinvent the wheel. Before the butterfly keyboard Apple had a
reputation of making some of the best notebook keyboards on the market. But they tarnished that title in 2015, and
it’s going to take years to recover. And as I mentioned at the beginning of the
video, this isn’t the first time Apple has had to backtrack on bad design ideas. The 2013 cylindrical Mac Pro was equally as
disastrous, with Apple executive Craig Federighi saying, “I think we designed ourselves into
a bit of a thermal corner.” Admitting that the Mac Pro’s unified thermal
core, which was once touted as an incredible engineering achievement, was actually limiting
what the Mac Pro was capable of. That’s why last year Apple announced a new
Mac Pro with what’s called a modular design. Where components can easily be accessed, removed
and replaced. Now that concept is nothing new, since that’s
exactly how every Mac Pro before the cylindrical model was designed. Now it’s easy to look at these two examples
of Apple failing and jump to the conclusion that the company is somehow less innovative
or that they’re being misguided under Tim Cook. Because ever since Steve Jobs left the company
in 2011, fans and haters alike have been hyper critical of nearly every decision they’ve
made. Claiming, “Steve Jobs would have never let
this happen,” or, “Apple has lost their way.” But the reality is, Apple has never been perfect. Not under Steve Jobs, and not under Tim Cook. Just consider these two products Apple released
under Steve Jobs: The Apple USB mouse and the Power Mac G4 Cube. The mouse debuted alongside the original iMac
back in 1998, and it was touted by Steve Jobs as “the coolest mouse on the planet.” And although Jobs may’ve thought so, many
iMac users certainly didn’t. They complained about their hand cramping
up while using it and problems orienting the mouse correctly since it was a perfect circle
instead of an oval. In fact, there were even third party accessories
like the iCatch that could be attached to the mouse which allowed it to fit in your
hand more comfortably. And when it came to the Power Mac G4 Cube,
its story is very similar to the cylindrical Mac Pro. Back in 2000, Jobs wanted to create a new,
more stylish design for their pro-level desktop computer, and it came in the form of an 8”
cube. Just like Phil Schiller bragged that the cylindrical
Mac Pro was a fraction of the size of the previous model, Steve Jobs said the same thing
about the G4 Cube. Highlighting its beautiful design and quiet
operation. But the reality was that customers were more
concerned about price and performance that aesthetics. And since the Power Mac G4 tower was $200
cheaper and included a monitor, sales of the G4 Cube were disappointing. And the product was eventually discontinued
just one year later. So while it’s worth pointing out when Apple
makes mistakes, it’s also important to understand that those mistakes don’t mean a company
is doomed or doesn’t know how to innovate. After all, a company is run by people, and
no one is perfect. We can only hope that Apple makes a genuine
effort to correct their mistakes and learn from them in the future. And judging by the 16 inch MacBook Pro and
new modular Mac Pro, I think Apple has proven that they are correcting their mistakes, even
if they don’t always publicly admit to them. Alright guys thanks for watching and I’ll
see you next time.

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100 thoughts on “Why Apple Gave Up On The Butterfly Keyboard

  1. The TiBook is also a good example of a design failure under Jobs. Looks lovely when brand new but painting the surface made it far too vulnerable to scratches and chips that made them look terrible over time

  2. That ad placement was very annoying, I´m paying for youtube premium so I won't have to watch ads! *sigh* The rest of the video was great as always.

  3. the obsession with miniaturization
    Learn to pronounce
     of the elements makes that keyboard absolutely unacceptable in that type of design, since it would require a 3D Touch type keyboard

  4. Am I the only one who likes the Butterfly Keyboards? I can’t speak to the reliability yet, but I find I’m much faster typing on the lighter, low-travel keys. Long/normal travel keys take to long to press in, slowing me down. I guess I’m just so used to typing on glass or a Smart Keyboard, the Butterfly keys don’t seem that different.

  5. They gave it up because it was pure fucking trash and they had recalls on it every year and to think it took them that long to finally change it? I’m sorry but Apple can not make laptops and there laptops are declining each year , there laptops are virtually unfixable, 2 words for anyone who uses there laptops, search Louis rossman on YouTube, don’t get me wrong I love there phones I have new iPhone 11 and I just got my first ever Apple Watch 5 which I was iffy about but it is a game changer the watch is insane but there laptops are pure TRASH

  6. the problem is as of late they've not made one mistake, it seems almost every product they bring to market has an inherent design flaw. gpu issues, flex cable issues, keyboard issues, thermal issues, bending issues, etc. etc… its not a good look when a company is supposedly offering a premium product that you're paying a premium price for, and there are two open class action lawsuits against them for design defects that they refuse to acknowledge, and they have almost as many recalls and extended warranty programs as they have products in their lineup.

  7. Such entitled and loaded language, just a bandwagon style rant about apple. "Apple admitted" "failed" "misguided" such bs.

  8. I <3 Apple but I refused to purchase anything with the butterfly keyboard. Before the 16 inch was even announced I got a 2015 MacBook Air and it runs Xcode well enough for me. So I am happy.

  9. My whole office is full of unwanted Macbook pros with broken keyboards. I have two on my desk right now with a broken keyboard. My daughter's macbook keyboard broke very early in its life. I will never buy anything with those type of keyboards again (second-hand even). The keyboard is such a well-done thing, and messing with it will effectively brick the hardware completely.

  10. 2 of the 3 MacBooks Apple is currently selling still have a butterfly keyboard, I wouldn't call it dead yet, the 16" MacBook Pro maybe a temporary fix until they have more time to create fully new chassis around it.(or they may update both the Air and 13" Pro designs this year).

  11. Honestly the butterfly keyboard doesn’t even feel that bad to type on, and the 4th gen butterfly has no problems. But the physical escape key on the new magic keyboard is welcome

  12. Sorry man, you give apple too much credit sometimes. Steve jobs before was trying to find apple's way in the 80's and 90's when nothing was established. Apple doesnt really have any excuses right now when things are established and they try to suck every penny they can out of their loyal customers

  13. Apple is just amazing at how they try to make every trivial product they and 10,000 other companies in the world produce to seem like something new and amazing. Like… When they return to use a good old-fashioned scissor keyboard and call it "Magic keyboard". The Magic, of course, is that it works like. Funny how the other 10,000 companies don't consider their similar, working, durable keyboards to be so magical.

  14. BTW, it's funny how the "trash can" Mac failed due to the same thing that the "Apple 3" failed: in both cases, Apple thought beauty or quietness are more important than not letting the computer heat up too much. In both cases, they were totally wrong.

  15. This was an expensive joke (on customers). I've seen Apple sheeps quite angry because they passed from one of the best keywords around to the absolute worst…

  16. If anyone is reading this, I hope that we can stop talking about dust in keyboard. It was definitely more serious than dust; it was the entire make up of the dome on the switches itself. It was prone to failure, dust or not.

    Please research more about why the key was failing. People are repeating what others are repeating without evidence. The keyboard failing was not due to dust like Apple and people have thought about. Dust was a minimal factor.

    A user on Reddit conducted a dust experiment and found that the keyboard is pretty dust resistance due to the very minimal gap. He/she blasted with dust both on top of the keyboard and from underneath the keyboard. Remember, even when Apple inserted the membrane to cover for dust, the keyboard was still failing.

    This lead to the next conclusion, it was the chemistry/material of the internal dome itself that was causing failure. The experiment that I have mentioned above showed the weak structure/material of the keyboard dome gave out after repeated use. This is what causing repeating keystroke or key failing to return.

    This was later confirmed by iFixit and my college, Cal Poly. They did a material testing on the keyboard dome mechanism and found out that Apple changed it to a more resilient composite. Ever since this change, we have not heard anymore wide spread issue with the keyboard failing.

  17. I really love my 2017 MacBook Pro. And I really love the feel of the Keyboard… But two of the keys (Space and V) are hanging and that’s sad.

  18. Lifespans of Apple’s mistakes:

    Puck mouse: 2 years
    Cube: 1 year

    (Jobs dies.)

    Cylindrical Mac Pro: 6 years
    Butterfly keyboard: 4 years before Apple began to phase it out, but it’s still in some MacBooks today.

  19. As a person that types a lot of scripts, replies, and random notes often. I am glad Apple got rid of the butterfly keyboard. It always felt a little too harsh to me when typing. There’s nothing like finding the right keyboard style keys for your typing style. And luckily for me and many others, Apple brought that back.

  20. I tried the new keyboard and much prefer my 4th gen butterfly keyboard. haven't had any problems with it but then again I don't let cookie crumbs get all over my keyboard and I also play piano so I actually know how to use my fingers.

  21. Why did they choose a desktop with practicality and repairability? That's called a PC. Apple's purpose is to make stylish, non-functional computers for ppl who don't understand computers.

  22. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. They didn’t need to do all that nonsense that they did. The original was just fine. Sheeesh

  23. I don't give a damn what the whiners say, the butterfly keyboard (at least the 2nd generation, onward) is HANDS DOWN better than any other laptop keyboard I've ever used, and I'm going to hang on to my 2018 MBP until it kicks the bucket.

  24. Apple never fix problem on warranty, they just keep replacing faulty parts with the same one that will fail again just after warranty expiration. Do you call this a good company? Spending such amount of money for what most of the time it became a faulty units is foolish imho… but they do good marketing and people still believing in those bs.

  25. This is why i’m holding on to my 2011 MBP, it’s got a great keyboard, is super upgradable and still feels great, has lots of ports and with some simple upgrades is pretty snappy as well

  26. Apple did admit their failure….when they fired Apple's historical designer Johnathan Ive (who had been with Apple since before Jobs's return), a.k.a. the man who created the butterfly keyboard – Ive and Apple both claim he left willingly, but everybody know in truth he was fired because of the huge mess and profit loss that the butterfly keyboard turned out to be.

  27. excuse me but how can you talk about a password reminder app in the middle of a apple keyboard review video? like tell me i am not the only one who gets mad about this smh

  28. 2019 was the year of Macs, in fine with that.
    Now, will 2020 be the year of the iPhone?
    By that I mean can they stop selling trashy none HD LCD hunk of junk?

  29. I didn't accept the fact that Apple gave up on the Buttery Fly switches.
    -Yesterday: Nnnowww I''vee underrrstooodd .

  30. mine is 2015 macbook 12 inch.. it works fine since i bought it in 2016..

    n i like it tht it doesn’t travel far..

    i find it awkward now using the scissor type on old macbooks.. not sure abt this 16 inch one tho.. i’ll hv to go n check

  31. Apart from its chronic unreliability the butterfly keyboard feels like typing on concrete. Only a total asshole could've designed this kind of shitty keyboard

  32. MBP 16” users that find their device spontaneously restarting should consider sending a $100 pile of bricks (a small sacrifice to their $4500+ machine) to Apple. Maybe then they start to listen (an unknown verb in Cupertino)
    Oaahhh wait, how incredible, the keyboard still works…flawlessly (supposedly…)

  33. Is there any possibility that with the new macbook 2020 with the scissor keyboard, they will somehow be able to recall and put this good keyboard for the old macs too, because I'm from Brazil, here the number of people using Mac it's very low so I literally learned about it 1 month later after buying the Air 2019

  34. Because it was fucking garbage. Total failure and huge repairs.

    When the recalls hit their pocketbook hard then they admitted defeat and went back to the old keyboard.

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