MBP Keyboard will Soon Have no Actual Keys?

groove-agent

macrumors 65816
Original poster
Jan 13, 2006
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Do you ever get the impression that Apple is slowly acclimatizing us towards having no actual physical keys on the keyboard?

I have 3 MBPs starting from 2008, and I can see the key action/ height on the keys is slowly getting lower. I don't own the 2016-2018 (due to reliability issues) but have typed on it.

I'm not sure how I would feel about having no actual key travel on one of these keyboards but I could probably cope as long as I can touch type and find the keys without looking.

I guess there are a few advantages to having no physical keys. Spills, dust etc wouldn't be a problem. It would allow for an even thinner chassis (not that care for thinness). You could potentially type faster with lower action. If they use touch LCD screens you could change the keyboard layout/ language easily or have custom keyboards based on the app.
 

Stephen.R

macrumors 65816
Nov 2, 2018
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I don't know that it'll happen soon but it's a possibility. Haptic feedback in the touch pad works pretty well IMO, and you get the benefit that it's programmable.
 

goslowjoe

Suspended
Dec 22, 2017
125
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This has probably been discussed on MR before, but as much as I do not like the idea now, I can see some benefits. One of my pet hates is the dogleg enter key used in some countries. Just yesterday I decided against a great pre-owned MacBook Pro because it had the UK-styled enter key. I prefer the standard US-styled enter key.

If the keyboard is no longer a mechanical device, you could possibly be able to select the keyboard layout of your choice. In addition, the keyboard can make space for another requirement you may have, such as a surface to draw on, like the iPad. This will mean that top cases are now standard, which should reduce manufacturing costs.

I have seen a mockup idea of what a future MacBook Pro could look like, and man, it is awesome!
 

VertPin

macrumors 6502a
Nov 12, 2015
613
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Yeah, no. They’ll go back to the scissor keyboard or make something just like that, rather than the butterfly keyboard.
 

leman

macrumors G4
Oct 14, 2008
10,136
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There has been a new patent of keyboard utilizing flexible glass keys. If done right, you’d get similar tactile feedback to what we have now with no gaps (no dirt accumulation) and dynamic e-ink-style key glyphs that adjust to your keyboard layout.

Of course, it’s just a parent, one of many.
 

VertPin

macrumors 6502a
Nov 12, 2015
613
431
There has been a new patent of keyboard utilizing flexible glass keys. If done right, you’d get similar tactile feedback to what we have now with no gaps (no dirt accumulation) and dynamic e-ink-style key glyphs that adjust to your keyboard layout.

Of course, it’s just a parent, one of many.
That’d be horrible lol.
 

leman

macrumors G4
Oct 14, 2008
10,136
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That’d be horrible lol.
Why do you think so? I certainly have no interest in a keyboard without tactile feedback, but if they manage to make glass keys that actually can be pressed and feel like keys, I have no objections. And dynamic keyboard would be a blessing for anyone working with multiple keyboard layouts...
 
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bosozoku

macrumors member
Feb 23, 2018
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I have Magic Keyboard (2015-on) and it is great! Just the right feel between awful butterfly mechanism and old scissor mechanism - and it lasts forever. It is quite thin and I think it would fit into 2016-18 models, maybe them being a little bit more thick. Why Apple has invented this awful bt keys, I got no idea!
[doublepost=1551341907][/doublepost]And do not get me wrong, I have used friends mbp 2017 tb model for a month and still could not get used to bt switches!
 

leman

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Oct 14, 2008
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I have Magic Keyboard (2015-on) and it is great! Just the right feel between awful butterfly mechanism and old scissor mechanism - and it lasts forever. It is quite thin and I think it would fit into 2016-18 models, maybe them being a little bit more thick. Why Apple has invented this awful bt keys, I got no idea!
Well, I've been trying to use the standalone Magic keyboard for the past few weeks and for me its quite a regression from the butterfly mechanism. Keys are smaller, travel is about the same, tactile feedback is worse and overall I am getting much more finger fatigue.
 

bosozoku

macrumors member
Feb 23, 2018
84
44
Tokyo
Well, I've been trying to use the standalone Magic keyboard for the past few weeks and for me its quite a regression from the butterfly mechanism. Keys are smaller, travel is about the same, tactile feedback is worse and overall I am getting much more finger fatigue.
but you forgot one, but very important thing - it does not fails
 

leman

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Oct 14, 2008
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but you forgot one, but very important thing - it does not fails
I had one keyboard failure in ~30 laptops over 2.5 years. I'd take these odds. Not to say that these keyboard don't have reliability issues — they certainly do. I can understand that people who hope to keep their machines operating for long periods of time are wary of this fact. Its not a problem for us since we replace machines after 4 years or earlier.
 
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maflynn

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May 3, 2009
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Its one of those patents that is head scratching if taken to its full design, but I don't think we'll be seeing this design anytime soon.
 
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_Kiki_

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Aug 13, 2017
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old idea, I have Yoga Book and keyboard without physical keys isn't good for long writing, virtual keyboard is situated on Wacom tablet which can be used also like a drawing tablet


also Lenovo updated Yoga Book in the last Autumn, and now the keyboard it's on E Ink display






Apple is few years behind competition from other manufacturers
 
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Thysanoptera

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Jun 12, 2018
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Pittsburgh, PA
Apple is few years behind competition from other manufacturers
Very true, but Apple has this magic ability of taking what others tried and either failed, or nobody noticed - and making it into blockbuster. It's annoying that every time they declare it is fully their own invention, but they read the market (mass market) correctly and deliver what people expect even if the market doesn't know it yet, or just force people to adapt and they accept. So many times I thought they went too far, and it never made a dent in their bottom line.
 

leman

macrumors G4
Oct 14, 2008
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Very true, but Apple has this magic ability of taking what others tried and either failed, or nobody noticed - and making it into blockbuster.
Yep, thats what they do. Usually though they manage to implement things in a sense that actually makes sense, which is part of their secret. The "keyboards" _Kiki_ has been showing are terrible, plain and simple. I am not really sure why "Apple is behind other manufacturers" for not implementing abhorrent designs in their products.
 
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Thysanoptera

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Jun 12, 2018
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Yep, thats what they do. Usually though they manage to implement things in a sense that actually makes sense, which is part of their secret. The "keyboards" _Kiki_ has been showing are terrible, plain and simple. I am not really sure why "Apple is behind other manufacturers" for not implementing abhorrent designs in their products.
If you look at the drawings in the patent application I linked above, the Apple keyboard will be similar, it is a keyboard layout after all. So looking at the pictures of it you may have similar feelings about its design. The difference will be the haptic feedback, they focus on this a lot in the patent. And OS integration.
 

filmbuff

macrumors 6502a
Jan 5, 2011
807
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I think if you had individual raised keys with haptic feedback that would be great. No moving parts, the keys could display different things based on the app you're in, etc. But any flat screen will make touch typing impossible, even with haptic feedback. I think we're still a long way off from replacing touch typing as being the fastest and easiest interface method with a computer so I really hope they don't do anything to take away that ability.
 

leman

macrumors G4
Oct 14, 2008
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If you look at the drawings in the patent application I linked above, the Apple keyboard will be similar, it is a keyboard layout after all. So looking at the pictures of it you may have similar feelings about its design. The difference will be the haptic feedback, they focus on this a lot in the patent. And OS integration.
It's just a patent. They patent tons of things that never gets implemented. A more recent one is this, which I was referring to, and its rather different from the plain on-screen keyboard with feedback:

http://pdfaiw.uspto.gov/.aiw?PageNum=0&docid=20190033923&IDKey=EC38CDCC3B16&HomeUrl=http://appft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect1=PTO1%26Sect2=HITOFF%26d=PG01%26p=1%26u=%252Fnetahtml%252FPTO%252Fsrchnum.html%26r=1%26f=G%26l=50%26s1=%252220190033923%2522.PGNR.%26OS=DN/20190033923%26RS=DN/20190033923
 

Fishrrman

macrumors P6
Feb 20, 2009
17,405
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Title:
"MBP Keyboard will Soon Have no Actual Keys?"

I've been a Mac user for 32 years.
I use ONLY Macs.
I almost never touch Windows, as an OS it seems incomprehensible to me.

HOWEVER --
If Apple ever makes a move as stupid as this, I'll be buying my first Windows laptop...
 

goslowjoe

Suspended
Dec 22, 2017
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I do not have an iPad and so am wondering how those who regularly use an iPad feel about typing on glass for extended periods. Then again, the availability of external keyboards for iPads gives me the idea that typing on an iPad is not the ideal solution. If haptic feedback does not dramatically improve the feeling when typing on glass, I can already see a rise in sales of external keyboards for any new MacBook Pro. Comments?
 

Thysanoptera

macrumors 6502a
Jun 12, 2018
732
727
Pittsburgh, PA
It's just a patent. They patent tons of things that never gets implemented. A more recent one is this, which I was referring to, and its rather different from the plain on-screen keyboard with feedback:
You've got to be kidding me. The title is "Computer with keyboard" and from the description it looks like a rubber keyboard protector over various types of switches, including the butterfly ones. I don't really get this whole IT patenting business.