The new MacBook Pro keyboards are quieter, but otherwise unchanged

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Like any other line of work, tech journalists tend to get fixated on details. When Apple showed off its new MacBook Pros at an event this week, the company (and a small army of creative professionals) had a lot to say about specs. A majority of our questions, however, revolved around that third-generation keyboard.

To answer all of your no doubt burning questions on that front, I can say definitively that the keyboard is noticeably quieter than its predecessor. I wasn’t able to get a side by side comparison yet (we’ll have to save that for the inevitable review), but as someone who uses a Pro with the second-gen keyboard every day, I can confirm that the improvement is immediately apparent.

That addresses one of the key complaints with the system and should make life a little easier for users who regularly bring their MacBooks into meetings — or worse yet, the library. If John Krasinski was using last year’s MacBook in that quiet film, he almost certainly would have been eaten by one of the murder monsters or whatever that movie is about (no spoilers). The new Pros should give him a bit more of a fighting chance.

Otherwise, there’s really no difference with the new keyboards from a mechanical perspective. The butterfly switches are the same, and they offer the same amount of key travel as their predecessors. The company won’t actually say what it’s done here to lower the clickity-clack (that’s going to be a job for some teardown artists), but it’s certainly an improvement.

Why the company didn’t go all-in on a keyboard overhaul is anyone’s guess. There are a number of possibilities. For one thing, the issues of key failure only really came to a head fairly recently, which might not have given the company enough lead time to do a ground-up rethink of the technology. Also, in spite of some criticism, the new keyboards do have their fans — in fact, we’ve got a number of them on staff (I won’t call any out by name… yet).

Most relevant of all, perhaps, the instances of true keyboard failure do seem to be relatively rare in the overall context of the Apple user base. The company has since acknowledged the black eye and agreed to free fixes for those with impacted systems. I wouldn’t be too surprised to see an overhaul of the tech at some point in the not too distant future. In the meantime, the new version is definitely an improvement. 

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