Apple's latest MacBook Pros boast, among other things, what Apple calls a third-generation design of the butterfly keyboard that made its debut aboard the MacBook in 2015. The company says this keyboard offers quieter operation than its past short-travel designs, but noise hasn't been the primary complaint owners have had about these notebooks. This short-travel keyboard has developed a reputation as a notoriously unreliable mechanism, and replacing it is an eye-poppingly expensive and difficult process.
The folks at iFixit have begun their teardown of the new MacBook Pros, and the updated keyboard was an area of specific interest for the site. Upon popping off a key cap, the teardown gurus found membranes—and not as part of the switch action, mind. These sheaths could serve either as silencers or as dust shields.
Despite Apple's claim that its new keyboard is primarily designed to be quieter, iFixit notes the company has a wide-ranging patent on dust-shielding mechanisms that look suspiciously similar to the silicone shield it found during its teardown. While quieter operation might be a benefit of this membrane, the site certainly offers enough evidence for skeptical minds to conclude that it isn't the only benefit.
iFixit says it'll be performing further testing on the newly-shielded keyboard this week to see how it handles the potentially crippling effects of dust and debris. We're curious to see if this new barrier can save these notebooks from the debilitating power of a single grain of sand.