When will the Air get a Magic Keyboard?

motrek

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I bought a new 2019 MacBook Air last week. Don't like the keyboard. Now it looks like Apple has come up with a new laptop keyboard (the "Magic Keyboard" in the 16" MacBook Pro, released yesterday). So I guess I'm headed to the Apple Store tomorrow to return my new laptop. I was willing to live with the butterfly keyboard when it seemed like Apple would stick with it for forever, but now there's no point in being one of the last suckers to buy a butterfly keyboard.

I will buy a new MacBook Air as soon as they refresh it with the new keyboard.

Any speculation re: when that might be?

The 2019 Air is only ~4 months old. So I guess it might not be refreshed for a while.

Then again, the 15" MBP was refreshed only ~6 months ago, and now it's replaced by the 16", so maybe we won't have to wait very long for a new Air.

Dammit. Wish I knew how long I'm going to have to wait...
 

Mainsail

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If you don't like the keyboard, you should not keep the computer. However, I think it is very hard to predict when or if Apple will shift the MBA from butterfly to scissor mechanism. The recent CNET interview with Schiller made it clear that this is an open question. Schiller points out that it is a pretty big deal for Apple to create a new keyboard that fits the slim profile of an MBA, but not impossible. So, I think Apple might just stick with the current MBA keyboard until they do a major update to the model in a few years.

Also, it seems pretty clear to me that the 2019 KB is better than the older versions in terms of feel and reliability. iMore had a good article about the potential complaints Apple will get with the new scissor mechanism and mentions the improved reliability of the current version of the 2019 Butterfly keyboard.

https://www.imore.com/people-wont-stop-complaining-about-macbook-pro-keyboard-and-its-good-reason
So, it might just be too much cost to change the current MBA keyboard for a relatively small (if any) improvement in reliability.
 
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motrek

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If you don't like the keyboard, you should not keep the computer. However, I think it is very hard to predict when or if Apple will shift the MBA from butterfly to scissor mechanism. The recent CNET interview with Schiller made it clear that this is an open question. Schiller points out that it is a pretty big deal for Apple to create a new keyboard that fits the slim profile of an MBA, but not impossible. So, I think Apple might just stick with the current MBA keyboard until they do a major update to the model in a few years.
Thanks for pointing me to that interview. I don't see the thinness of the keyboard discussed anywhere in the interview though. Am I reading the wrong one? Can you point me to the right link or quote any specific text?

The old 11" MBA was 0.68 inches thick and the new one is 0.61 inches thick at their thickest points. That's a difference of less than 2 millimeters. So it doesn't seem like THAT big of an engineering problem to put a "regular" keyboard in a thin laptop, considering that Apple was doing exactly that for most of a decade.

In the interview I read, there was a lot of talk about the new keyboard being a "pro" feature. What The Actual F**k. Since when is a keyboard something that only "pros" care about? What does "pro" even mean in this context? Professional typists? How many of those are there? And since when does Apple deliberately offer inferior keyboards on their "non-pro" devices?

None of this "pro" stuff makes any sense, except as cover-your-a** speech. Schiller can't just come out and say "hey sorry guys, we totally f**ked up with those stupid butterfly keyboards" or he/Apple would look stupid. So they have to introduce it in a way that makes them look less stupid. So they're trying to make this new keyboard seem like a Super Great New Thing That They Just Invented and they're going to put it in their most expensive laptops first, and then they'll look like heroes for eventually putting their "pro" keyboards in their non-pro (amateur?) laptops. It's a pretty transparent PR crisis-management strategy.

Also, it seems pretty clear to me that the 2019 KB is better than the older versions in terms of feel and reliability.
Maybe so, but after trying to get used to it for a week, I still hate it. I have to type on it very lightly or the keys bottom out and it hurts my fingers because there's so little travel. And I can type lightly, but then sometimes I type some keys so lightly that I just don't press them at all and I miss letters. So there's a very narrow range of how light/hard you have to type to have good accuracy and comfort and after a week I'm still not naturally finding that range and anything I type is full of typos. Plus the keys are so big that I frequently accidentally press the wrong keys just because my fingers are near the corners of the keys that I do intend to press. So it sucks. And plus the keyboard is still super loud, which annoys me and the people around me. Several people have mentioned to me, unprompted, that the keyboard is super loud. Never happened with my 2014 MBA. So that sucks too. And also the arrow keys.

So it sounds like Apple has addressed all these problems.

iMore had a good article about the potential complaints Apple will get with the new scissor mechanism and mentions the improved reliability of the current version of the 2019 Butterfly keyboard.

https://www.imore.com/people-wont-stop-complaining-about-macbook-pro-keyboard-and-its-good-reason
So, it might just be too much cost to change the current MBA keyboard for a relatively small (if any) improvement in reliability.
Ugh. "Potential complaints." There are lots of reviews of the new laptop (and thus the new keyboard) that have come out since the laptop was released... yesterday?... and everybody seems to universally love the new keyboard. Some people are saying that they even prefer it to the pre-butterfly keyboards. So I'm unimpressed with the idea of "potential complaints."
 

AustinIllini

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I wouldn't take much of what Phil Schiller says all that seriously right now. They're claiming to be developing the two keyboards in parallel, but they have to say that. If they say "yeah, we only want to do the new keyboard now", it would crater the sales of all the butterfly devices going into holiday season. As an officer of Apple he simply cannot do that.
 

Mainsail

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Thanks for pointing me to that interview. I don't see the thinness of the keyboard discussed anywhere in the interview though. Am I reading the wrong one? Can you point me to the right link or quote any specific text?

The old 11" MBA was 0.68 inches thick and the new one is 0.61 inches thick at their thickest points. That's a difference of less than 2 millimeters. So it doesn't seem like THAT big of an engineering problem to put a "regular" keyboard in a thin laptop, considering that Apple was doing exactly that for most of a decade.

In the interview I read, there was a lot of talk about the new keyboard being a "pro" feature. What The Actual F**k. Since when is a keyboard something that only "pros" care about? What does "pro" even mean in this context? Professional typists? How many of those are there? And since when does Apple deliberately offer inferior keyboards on their "non-pro" devices?

None of this "pro" stuff makes any sense, except as cover-your-a** speech. Schiller can't just come out and say "hey sorry guys, we totally f**ked up with those stupid butterfly keyboards" or he/Apple would look stupid. So they have to introduce it in a way that makes them look less stupid. So they're trying to make this new keyboard seem like a Super Great New Thing That They Just Invented and they're going to put it in their most expensive laptops first, and then they'll look like heroes for eventually putting their "pro" keyboards in their non-pro (amateur?) laptops. It's a pretty transparent PR crisis-management strategy.



Maybe so, but after trying to get used to it for a week, I still hate it. I have to type on it very lightly or the keys bottom out and it hurts my fingers because there's so little travel. And I can type lightly, but then sometimes I type some keys so lightly that I just don't press them at all and I miss letters. So there's a very narrow range of how light/hard you have to type to have good accuracy and comfort and after a week I'm still not naturally finding that range and anything I type is full of typos. Plus the keys are so big that I frequently accidentally press the wrong keys just because my fingers are near the corners of the keys that I do intend to press. So it sucks. And plus the keyboard is still super loud, which annoys me and the people around me. Several people have mentioned to me, unprompted, that the keyboard is super loud. Never happened with my 2014 MBA. So that sucks too. And also the arrow keys.

So it sounds like Apple has addressed all these problems.



Ugh. "Potential complaints." There are lots of reviews of the new laptop (and thus the new keyboard) that have come out since the laptop was released... yesterday?... and everybody seems to universally love the new keyboard. Some people are saying that they even prefer it to the pre-butterfly keyboards. So I'm unimpressed with the idea of "potential complaints."

To be clear, I am in no way questioning your decision to return the MBA. If you don't like the keyboard, then that's it, and you defiantly should take it back during the return period. You should not keep a computer that you are not happy with.

Here are the Schiller comments that I am referring to in the CNET article:

Will this keyboard find its way to other MacBooks?
There are folks who don't need the power of the MacBook Pro, but may appreciate the tactile experience.
I can't say today. We are continuing both keyboard designs.

How hard would it be to put the new keyboard into a slimmer design?
Keyboards in general are a lot of work. People sometimes underestimate how much work goes into a keyboard, and that's why most keyboards in the industry don't change for 10 or 20 years. Adapting that to a notebook is more work. It's not impossible, but it's definitely a lot of work.

As for the iMore article, my take away was that the author is anticipating complaints for a variety of reasons, but the main thing is that it will be different, and that will take some getting used to. Here is an excerpt:

"The fear with the new keyboard design for some is that it may be worse than before. There are some people around the soch meeds water cooler that complain the Mac's Magic Keyboard is "loosey-goosey," that the keys wiggle too much or the travel is too high and wonder whether the MacBook Pro's Magic Keyboard will be the same. To be clear, the Magic Keyboard on the MacBook Pro is not a one-for-one design of the Magic Keyboard for the Mac. It's "inspired" by the design of the latter because most people actually do love it.

But, the point is this; butterfly or Magic Keyboard, people are going to complain about the design no matter what, simply because it's different."
 

okieoutwest

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Sep 14, 2019
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I have been debating transitioning to an iPad Pro for my main work device and pairing it with a bluetooth Magic Keyboard simply to avoid the butterfly keyboards. The MBA getting back a dependable keyboard would be a day one purchase for me as my 2015 MBA is getting long in the tooth.
 
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Mainsail

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I have been debating transitioning to an iPad Pro for my main work device and pairing it with a bluetooth Magic Keyboard simply to avoid the butterfly keyboards. The MBA getting back a dependable keyboard would be a day one purchase for me as my 2015 MBA is getting long in the tooth.
I understand your reluctance to buy the current MBA, but there is no guarantee that a scissor keyboard will be better than the current generation butterfly keyboard. Also, I believe Apple has improved the reliability of the butterfly keyboard with the latest iterations. I just don't see nearly as many complaints as before, and now that the 2019 version has been out for 4 months, tech sites are starting to acknowledge this improvement. For example, per iMore:

"Apple did fix the butterfly keyboard. Without the numbers in front of me (because there is no such thing), I haven't heard a single complaint about the third-generation butterfly keyboard's reliability and that's a stark difference from the previous two generations."

Anyway, I feel like there is an echo chamber of issues associated with the earlier keyboard iterations that don't really apply to the 2019 version. In addition, there is the 4 year warranty, which some folks dismiss, but provides me with some comfort.

Nevertheless, independent of reliability, if you don't like the feel of the butterfly keyboard, then don't get a MacBook that has one.
 

motrek

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...
Here is an excerpt:

"The fear with the new keyboard design for some is that it may be worse than before. ...
But, the point is this; butterfly or Magic Keyboard, people are going to complain about the design no matter what, simply because it's different."
Nah. Not buying it. Keyboards are a known, commodity technology. Dozens of companies are able to make perfectly good keyboards that nobody hates. I mean, hell, Apple was able to make good keyboards that nobody hated for decades.

I think it probably didn't even occur to anybody that a major company could screw up making a keyboard until Apple did exactly that in 2015.

So no, the default is not that everybody will hate any new keyboard that Apple makes. Apparently everybody loves the new 16" MBP keyboard so far. There's no reason to expect it to be bad, no reason to assume it would be bad, and no reason to assume that a lot of people are going to complain about it.

As for people not liking the Magic keyboard, I don't have any experience with it. I did some googling and can't find any widespread hate towards that keyboard. It has a very high review average on Amazon. It has a poor review average on Apple.com but the people who give it bad reviews complain about stuff other than the key switches--that keys are in places they don't like, or that Bluetooth doesn't work right, or that it bends, etc. etc. but I don't see any complaints about the switches. So no, since there doesn't seem to be any widespread hatred towards the Magic keyboard I wouldn't assume there would be hatred towards the new laptop keyboard. And plus, just because Apple is calling the new laptop keyboard a "Magic" keyboard doesn't mean it's really even necessarily very similar to the desktop product called a "Magic" keyboard.
- - Post merged: - -

I understand your reluctance to buy the current MBA, but there is no guarantee that a scissor keyboard will be better than the current generation butterfly keyboard.
There are now dozens of reviews of the 16" MBP online and everybody seems to agree that the new keyboard is much better. So no, there's no guarantee, but the evidence so far sure seems to point that way.

Also, I believe Apple has improved the reliability of the butterfly keyboard with the latest iterations.
You keep mentioning the improved reliability of the butterfly keyboard. I'm absolutely certain they improved the reliability. But that means nothing quantitatively. You can improve the reliability of a s**t product but that doesn't necessarily make it a reliable product. I'm sure the reliability of Trabants was improved over the course of its manufacturing run but that doesn't mean they're reliable cars.

Nevertheless, independent of reliability, if you don't like the feel of the butterfly keyboard, then don't get a MacBook that has one.
That's a tough one. I was pretty sure I could get used to the keyboard since millions of other people seem to have been able to do so, but after a week, it's still driving me nuts. So it's hard to tell somebody to avoid buying a laptop if they don't know whether or not they'll like the keyboard, or they assume they'll get used to the keyboard. (BTW, this is the first keyboard I've ever bought where I had to think "just keep using it and maybe you'll get used to it.")
- - Post merged: - -

I wouldn't take much of what Phil Schiller says all that seriously right now. They're claiming to be developing the two keyboards in parallel, but they have to say that. If they say "yeah, we only want to do the new keyboard now", it would crater the sales of all the butterfly devices going into holiday season. As an officer of Apple he simply cannot do that.
Well, the other option would have been to release all the refreshes simultaneously, then they just have to suffer through 2 weeks of returns by people who had just bought the versions with the old keyboards and they're done with it. Sadly they didn't go with that option.

I'm pretty jazzed that I only bought my laptop last week and it's still within the return window. I'd be kicking myself if I heard this news and couldn't return the new laptop.
 
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motrek

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Q. When will the Air get a Magic Keyboard?
A. (my guess) Not before Apple has met their contractual obligation to purchase "x" million butterfly keyboards from their supplier/subcontractor.
Hopefully that will happen soon. A new Air with the new keyboard is a day-one purchase for me.

Hard to believe that two weeks ago I was steamed that Apple wanted to charge me $200 for the 256GB storage upgrade option, now I'm happy to pay whatever Apple is asking as long as they un-f**k the keyboard. Maybe this was all just a psychological trick. LOL
 
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motrek

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Just got back from returning my 2019 MBA. They had two 16" MBPs in the store and I tried typing on them. It felt immediately familiar and good, like my 2014 MBA. Can't wait until they revise the MBA with the new keyboard.
 

dgdosen

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Q. When will the Air get a Magic Keyboard?
A. (my guess) Not before Apple has met their contractual obligation to purchase "x" million butterfly keyboards from their supplier/subcontractor.
I'm sure that can have an impact - but I think the bigger impact would come from lost sales. Apple already has decreasing market share, and I'm sure other laptop makers shipping competent Ice Lake/Comet Lake machines with working keyboards will exacerbate the situation.
 
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sracer

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I'm sure that can have an impact - but I think the bigger impact would come from lost sales. Apple already has decreasing market share, and I'm sure other laptop makers shipping competent Ice Lake/Comet Lake machines with working keyboards will exacerbate the situation.
That's reasonable. I never got the impression though that Apple was ever concerned with the sales volumes of their macOS devices. Not only do they make up a smaller portion of their revenue and profit, there are less defections in the macOS space... because Windows 10 isn't an inviting alternative for those who want/need macOS and the reliance on macOS-exclusive software keeps people around.
 

MacRazySwe

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My 2018 MBA has been flawless. Had it for a year now and no reliability issues at all.

That said, whenever a new 13/14" model with scissor-keys is released I suspect I will be upgrading, just for the typing feel. Looks as it could happen as soon as next year?
 

motrek

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My 2018 MBA has been flawless. Had it for a year now and no reliability issues at all.

That said, whenever a new 13/14" model with scissor-keys is released I suspect I will be upgrading, just for the typing feel. Looks as it could happen as soon as next year?
I hope it's pretty soon. I'm going on a trip in the next-spring timeframe and would really like a new laptop for that trip. If it's not the new MBA with the new keyboard, then it's probably going to be a used 2015 MacBook of some sort that has more RAM than my current 2014 MacBook Air. Which would be a shame because those MacBooks weigh 50% more than my Air and that's noticeable when traveling.

Reasons why Apple would update the keyboards sooner rather than later:

- Manufacturing two different keyboards for laptops is redundant.

- Even if the 2019 redesign of the butterfly keyboards makes them more reliable, any problem with them is still going to require hugely expensive repairs. So the sooner Apple switches to the new keyboard, the fewer butterfly keyboards will be in circulation which translates to smaller repair bills for Apple. And possibly smaller fines, etc. in the class-action lawsuits that are currently in progress re: the butterfly keyboards.

- Probably there are a significant number of people like us who would buy new laptops if they had the new keyboards. So if Apple wants to juice the sales of new laptops then they'll update the keyboards ASAP.

Reasons why Apple would not update the keyboards sooner rather than later:

- It would make it even more glaringly obvious that the butterfly keyboards were a mistake if Apple didn't plod along with them at least a bit longer.

- The chassis of existing laptops probably has to be made slightly thicker (1mm?) to accommodate the new keyboards. I don't know how long that sort of redesign/retooling takes but it might be a while depending on where they are in that process? Or maybe it won't take that long at all. Apple seems to be able to make minor modifications to e.g. iPhone dimensions on a regular basis without a problem so maybe it'll be pretty easy to fit their laptops with the new keyboard.
 

motrek

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But he also predicted that 16" Macbook will come out in September , a lag of two months . He does get it right sometimes but not all the time.
I'm sure it's a bit like predicting the weather.

If you do a search, you can see that he also predicted that the MacBook Air would be the first to get the scissor switches in 2019 (probably misinterpreted some data about the 2019 revamp of the butterfly keyboard) and predicted that other MacBooks wouldn't be getting the new keyboard until mid-2020.

Ultimately it seems fairly obvious that Apple will switch every laptop to the new keyboard, and since this year is almost over, odds are they'll do the switch sometime next year. So "mid-2020" is a pretty easy prediction...
 

dgdosen

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I want an air to have a new keyboard - but I'd never buy the any model with those 8th gen dual core processors...
 

ZeuSGoKiL

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Just got back from returning my 2019 MBA. They had two 16" MBPs in the store and I tried typing on them. It felt immediately familiar and good, like my 2014 MBA. Can't wait until they revise the MBA with the new keyboard.

I might imagine that the MBA will have change the foot print if they want to fit in the new keyboard mechanism
- - Post merged: - -

I'm sure it's a bit like predicting the weather.

If you do a search, you can see that he also predicted that the MacBook Air would be the first to get the scissor switches in 2019 (probably misinterpreted some data about the 2019 revamp of the butterfly keyboard) and predicted that other MacBooks wouldn't be getting the new keyboard until mid-2020.

Ultimately it seems fairly obvious that Apple will switch every laptop to the new keyboard, and since this year is almost over, odds are they'll do the switch sometime next year. So "mid-2020" is a pretty easy prediction...

I am all in for a change keyboard and cheaper price ... Blaim me .
 

motrek

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I want an air to have a new keyboard - but I'd never buy the any model with those 8th gen dual core processors...
Why not?
- - Post merged: - -

I might imagine that the MBA will have change the foot print if they want to fit in the new keyboard mechanism ...
For a laptop, footprint usually means length times width, nothing to do with the thickness of the laptop. I imagine they might have to make the MBA slightly thicker to accommodate the new keyboard but I can't imagine they'll have to change the footprint.

I wouldn't mind a slightly thicker laptop at all. The 2014 11" MacBook Air that I have now is only ~1.5 millimeters thicker than the current MacBook Air. The difference is basically not noticeable.
 

DanUC6

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Feb 6, 2007
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Also waiting for new air with new keyboard. Used the touchbar for a few months and hated it. My finger would always by mistake hit it. It is very sensitive and drove me insane. We need to make this thread a priority. Apple does listen....