I was in the Grand Central Station Apple Store for a third time in a year, watching a progress bar slowly creep across my computer’s black screen as my Genius multi-tasked helping another customer with her iPad. My computer was getting its third diagnostic test in 45 minutes. The problem was not that its logic board was failing, that its battery was dying, or that its camera didn’t respond. There were no mysteriously faulty innerworkings. It was the spacebar. It was broken. And not even physically broken – it still moved and acted normally. But every time I pressed it once, it spaced twice.
“Maybe it’s a piece of dust,” the Genius had offered. The previous times I’d been to the Apple Store for the same computer with the same problem – a misbehaving keyboard – Geniuses had said to me these exact same nonchalant words, and I had been stunned into silence, the first time because it seemed so improbable to blame such a core problem on such a small thing, and the second time because I couldn’t believe the first time I was hearing this line that it was not a fluke. But this time, the third time, I was ready. “Hold on,” I said. “If a single piece of dust lays the whole computer out, don’t you think that’s kind of a problem?”
The keyboard on the MacBooks and MacBook Pros is an unmitigated disaster. In pursuit of thinness nobody else is looking for, Apple severely crippled its most important Mac product line – and that’s even without taking the Touchbar into account.
For a week my keyboard was triggering a keypress constantly. None of the keys were pressed, and it wasn’t an obvious key: it seemed to be a special character. I could still type on the keyboard, and it’d work, except that I’d constantly be hearing the bell sound. The worst part was that every time I picked up the MacBook the battery was dead, because the key press prevented it from ever sleeping. By the time my “genius” bar appointment came, it has fixed itself. I’m now out of warranty, and waiting for it to happen again (because it’s only a matter of time).
I’ve typed on the new keyboards and, while I didn’t love them, I didn’t hate the feel as much as I expected. I did wonder about the lack of repairs though. I suppose I now have an answer.
Ironically, it makes me appreciate the design of the iPad Pro even more. I never thought I’d see the day when the iPad became more modular than the Macbook. Did I miss the apocalypse?