There’s been ongoing controversy regarding MacBook keyboards that use a ‘butterfly’ switch, and in a fresh move to appease those affected, Apple has reportedly stepped up the speed of repairs on these faulty models.
Now, rather than an off-site repair and a potential three to five working day wait (or maybe even longer), Apple is aiming for a next-day turnaround by completing repairs in stores.
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This is according to a company memo on the topic of providing support for keyboard-related repairs as highlighted by MacRumors (opens in new tab).
Genius Bar technicians are advised as follows: “Most keyboard-related repairs will be required to be completed in store until further notice. Additional service parts have been shipped to stores to support the increased volume. These repairs should be prioritized to provide next-day turnaround time.”
Clearly, Apple is concerned about the negative publicity it's getting from the repeated problems with the butterfly switch mechanisms on both MacBook and MacBook Pro models, so wants to make things easier for those who are forced to have their keyboard repaired.
Of course, the real source of frustration is that these gremlins are still persisting today, and Apple hasn’t managed to stamp out these flaws.
MacBooks from as far back as 2015 use these switches, which are designed to help keep the laptops nice and slim, but can develop issues with keys getting stuck, or key presses not registering (or indeed the opposite problem – keys repeatedly registering with just one tap).
After legal action was initiated over the matter, in the form of a class action lawsuit, Apple took action in June 2018 and instigated a repair program for the “small percentage” of affected users.
At the time, the company announced that it would offer free repairs for three MacBook models and six MacBook Pro models (which went on sale from 2015 to 2017), with this program set to run until 2022. So if a problem does crop up, you can now not just expect a fix, but a quick repair (hopefully), at least for the foreseeable future.
That's assuming Apple’s support technicians can keep up with the pace for this next-day turnaround, but even a two-day repair would be a far preferable experience to potentially waiting a week for the laptop to be sent away and returned.
It’s interesting to note that Apple hasn’t extended its repair program to cover MacBook machines launched in 2018, despite the latest third-generation butterfly keyboards still having issues even after adopting a protective membrane to prevent dust or debris from accumulating in the switch mechanism.
Although naturally, any of those machines will still be under warranty – at this point in time. Whether Apple will offer extended keyboard repair coverage to 2018 models remains to be seen.
Even with an extended repair scheme, however, some owners will still doubtless be concerned that their keyboard may still go wrong further down the line, after the program expires – potentially curtailing the laptop’s usable lifespan, unless they then fork out for a repair.
Given all this, perhaps it isn’t surprising that Apple is considering using a virtual keyboard for the MacBook rather than a physical one, at least according to a number of patents which have been spotted in recent times.