8-core MacBook, same old keyboard

Apple quietly announced yesterday that it was adding a new high-end MacBook Pro with 8 cores to the lineup, and refreshing "some" of its models with a "improved" keyboard at the same time.

It's not like we haven't heard¬†that¬†story before‚ÄĒthe MacBook 'butterfly' keyboard design has been so prone to problems from something as simple as a speck of dust destroying a key, which warrants an complete replacement,¬†that most of us that rely on them for work grew skeptical of the hardware.¬†

The Outline has documented the problems extensively, which have now plagued three previous generations of the basic keyboard design:

Apple still claims that only a ‚Äúsmall percentage‚ÄĚ of people experience trouble with their keyboards. But having now heard the idea of a ‚Äúsensitive‚ÄĚ keyboard, I‚Äôm not sure I will ever get over it. No one has had to think this hard about keyboards in decades, at least before Apple went in and messed with them.¬†

What's wild in my mind is that Apple continues to stick with the flawed design, insisting a tweak can resolve it and win back trust from customers frustrated by problems. In fact, Apple is¬†so sure¬†about this time around that the company¬†included its brand new computer in its keyboard replacement program‚ÄĒyou know, because it works so well.¬†

The problem with that replacement narrative is that while it's nice that you can get it fixed, what nobody tells you is... having no computer for a week or more sucks, especially if you just purchased it for $3,000. Apple doesn't loan out replacements, and lead times last year here in Amsterdam for a fix reached the point where the company just pointed fixes to third-party resellers.

For a while, it felt like most people were willing to tolerate these frustrations because it's pretty difficult to avoid if you want to stay in the macOS ecosystem. A¬†cursory read of the¬†Hacker News' comment thread about the topic‚ÄĒwhich has 900 comments right now‚ÄĒindicates that developers might finally have had enough.

But, if you build iOS/macOS apps or need to test in Safari... there's really little choice about the matter. Apple spent the better part of the last few years trying to tell developers and other 'pro' users that it cares about them, but being unwilling to say 'sorry' is one hell of a 'f--- you' to people that rely on them for work. 

It remains to be seen if the 'fix' will actually help, but the length of this saga has been staggering for a company that historically was quick to own its failures. You shouldn't have to worry about (or even think about) a keyboard when you're spending thousands of dollars on a computer, nor should a brand new device come with a replacement program on day one.

Sigh. Apple's developer conference, WWDC, is next week, so the announcement is clearly the company clearing the decks ahead of whatever shiny things it wants to show off. But, I'd argue this will continue to overshadow much of the discussion there.


Tab Dump

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