Apple Has Been Gaslighting Us for Years

The company says it created a new Magic Keyboard for the 16-inch MacBook Pro because it’s ‘listening,’ but customers have been complaining for years

The new 16-inch MacBook Pro debuted earlier this week with an unexpected key feature: a working keyboard.

Ever since 2016, when the “redesigned” MacBook Pro first shipped, users have complained that its butterfly keyboard is flaky and failure-prone. Mere food crumbs or specks of dust could apparently render a $3,000 computer all but useless. The keys slowly died, one-by-one, requiring a time-consuming repair before the keyboard was usable again.

Apple’s marketing chief Phil Schiller, told the Independent that these sorts of customer complaints factored into Apple’s decision to make what it calls a “new Magic Keyboard” for the recently announced MacBook Pro. The new laptop model incorporates the scissor-switch design of Apple’s stand-alone Magic Keyboard. Schiller said that “customers don’t realize the power they have — to influence our direction and what we do with their feedback.” However, he stopped short of admitting fault, or offering an apology.

But Schiller should have apologized, because Apple has been gaslighting us about its terrible keyboard for years (as is its custom when things go wrong).

The company has repeatedly insisted that nothing is wrong, maintaining as recently as March that only a small number of users were affected. Instead of admitting fault, Apple quietly launched a service program that offered customers free keyboard repairs. Internal documents obtained by MacRumors also show it added a fix for the keyboard’s dust problem to a model it released last year, without acknowledging that it had done so. And earlier this year, Apple went so far as to announce that its refreshed MacBook models had “fixed” the keyboard issue while launching a replacement program alongside the brand new computer at the same time.

Some people who rely on their laptops for work have opted to put up with the broken keyboard, or carry around an external keyboard, until they can plan a vacation or borrow another laptop.

It’s absurd that Apple could get away with selling faulty computers for so long — all of which are still available even after this new (and very expensive) machine has launched.

Apple customers have meanwhile filed multiple class-action lawsuits related to what they say are defective keyboards. Dealing with the keyboards problems have been especially difficult for developers and writers who make their living by, you know, typing. Though Apple offers free keyboard repairs, taking them up on this offer means going without a computer for some time. Online, users have reported it could take weeks, sometimes longer. In my case, the first repair I needed took two weeks — forcing me to borrow other peoples’ spare laptops while I waited. Some people who rely on their laptops for work have even opted to put up with the broken keyboard, or carry around an external keyboard, until they can plan a vacation or borrow another laptop.

As Apple launches the 2019 MacBook Pro, executives like Schiller insist they’re listening, throwing the complainers a carrot with features like an all-new physical escape key. (Apple had removed the key and made it virtual in the previous revision.) But this idea that Apple is responding to its users comes off as disingenuous when complaints have been made about broken keyboards for years to no avail.

Issues with my own machine kicked off a two-year search for the best Windows laptop alternatives, because I just couldn’t get work done on a MacBook Pro anymore. I ultimately switched to the Surface Book 2, after being a loyal MacBook user for years, and haven’t looked back since.

I won’t lie — the new MacBook Pro is tempting because it features a laundry-list of things I had hoped would come to the machine years ago. The high resolution screen looks fantastic, and I’m impressed by the battery life improvements, but I’m skeptical that this computer is much more than a carrot dangled to quell the company’s loudest critics.

There’s no reason to trust Apple to finally get its keyboard right this time around, and if you’re considering this computer at all, my advice is simple: wait it out. Maybe this MacBook is great, and Apple is right, but I wouldn’t bet my own money on it.

All Rights Reserved for Owen Williams

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