Apple won’t use third-gen keyboards as replacements on older MacBook Pro models

If you were hoping Apple would replace second-generation “butterfly switch” keyboards found on older MacBook Pro models with the recently announced third-generation keyboard, you would be mistaken. Apple has no plans to swap keyboards on older MacBook Pro models, according to MacRumors.

Last week, Apple unexpectantly revealed the 2018 MacBook Pro. One of the laptop’s newest features is the introduction of a “quieter” third-generation “butterfly switch” keyboard. As iFixit found over the weekend, the new console includes a layer of silicone over the keys that might have been put into place to resolve an often-reported sticky key issue found on some earlier MacBook models.

As part of its newly announced keyboard service program, Apple said it would replace keyboards found on late-generation MacBook and MacBook Pro models, when necessary. However, it doesn’t plan on doing so by installing a third-generation keyboard.

MacRumors explains that the third-generation keyboards are exclusive to the 2018 MacBook Pro, noting:

One possibility is that the third-generation keyboards aren’t backwards compatible with 2016 and 2017 MacBook Pro models to begin with. The keyboard is actually one part of a larger component called the “top case,” which also has a glued-in battery, and the internal design could be tweaked in 2018 models.

Since announcing the new MacBook Pro last week, Apple has been cautious with the words it uses to describe the device’s new keyboard. Instead of saying the keyboard is an “improvement” or is “better” than the one found on previous models, it has simply called the keyboard “quieter.” This is probably due to the ongoing class-action lawsuit against Apple over the sticky keyboard issue.

To date, Apple has admitted that some keyboards might have a problem and will need to be fixed or replaced. However, it hasn’t gone as far as saying all keyboards might need to be replaced.

So far, Fixit has found that the “thin, silicone barrier” on the new keyboard doesn’t appear to be a “silencing measure.” Instead, it could tie back to an Apple patent published in March for a “guard structure.” Still, the site stresses it can’t “definitively prove it’s a reliability fix,” at least not yet. It plans further tests this week.

Apple’s in a pickle here. On one hand, it wants to put this sticky keyboard issue behind it and most likely resolved it with the new keyboard. However, legally, they can’t say there was a universal problem with previous consoles, nor can they just swap out the old keyboards with the new one.

What do you think will happen with this case? Let us know below.