The Great Apple Keyboard Cover-Up

BREAKING (July 13, 2018): Here’s an inflammatory take for you: Apple’s new quieter keyboard is actually a silent scheme to fix their keyboard reliability issues. We’re in the middle of tearing down the newest MacBook Pro, but we’re too excited to hold this particular bit of news back:

Apple has cocooned their butterfly switches in a thin, silicone barrier.

MacBook Pro butterfly keyboard with silicone membrane

The 2018 MacBook Pro features a thin rubberized layer under its keycaps, covering the second-generation butterfly mechanism.

This flexible enclosure is quite obviously an ingress-proofing measure to cover up the mechanism from the daily onslaught of microscopic dust. Not—to our eyes—a silencing measure. In fact, Apple has a patent for this exact tech designed to “prevent and/or alleviate contaminant ingress.”

Apple patent of the silicone membrane around the butterfly keyboard

Here’s the really good part: I can tell you it’s there, but I can’t definitively prove it’s a reliability fix. After all, Apple told The Verge that “this new third-generation keyboard wasn’t designed to solve those [dust] issues.”

Apple is in the middle of several class-action lawsuits for the failure of their keyboards, so of course they can’t just come out and say, “Hey, we fixed it!” That says there was a problem to begin with. But you’ve heard that clever analysis from John Gruber already. I’m just here to posit: the advertised boost in quietude is a side-effect of this rubbery membrane. The quiet angle is, quite literally, a cover up.

Tune in next week as we put this membrane through its dust-proofing paces, tear down the rest of the device, and speculate whether this really is a feature—or a secret bug fix impacting millions of consumers.

Here’s our video summary of the story so far.

Image Credit: *FIG. 3D from

Update 7/19/18: MacRumors has leaked an internal document from Apple Authorized Service Providers confirming that the purpose of the membrane is to “prevent debris from entering the butterfly mechanism.”