Apple has faced criticism with regards to its Butterfly keyboard mechanism that was introduced to its MacBooks, where users found that even little bits of dust or debris can ruin the mechanism which in turn prevents keys from being detected when pressed. However a recent teardown by iFixit found that Apple addressed this issue with a silicon membrane.
However the question is, is this good enough? The folks at iFixit decided to test it further and based on their tests, they found that yes, the new silicon membrane around the keys do a better job of protecting it against dust. The bad news is that it doesn’t seem to be a very reliable solution because they found that dust will eventually make its way through.
According to iFixit, “On the 2018 keyboard, with the addition of more particulate and some aggressive typing, the dust eventually penetrates under the sheltered clips, and gets on top of the switch—so the ingress-proofing isn’t foolproof just yet.” They also tested it with higher-grit particulate such as sand and found that the membrane did little to protect the keys against it.
That being said, Apple has publicly marketed this new feature as a way to make the keyboards “quieter”, although a recently discovered internal document revealed that Apple had internally acknowledged that the membrane also helps prevent debris from interfering with the mechanism.
It is unclear if this membrane is truly Apple’s solution to the problem, or if the company could be working on something better that might appear in future refreshes, but in the meantime perhaps getting one of those goofy-looking keyboard covers might be a good way of prolonging the lifespan of your laptop’s keyboard.