Wednesday, September 25, 2019 [Tweets] [Favorites]

Patent for Even Thinner MacBook Keyboard

Malcolm Owen (Hacker News):

In a patent published by the US Patent and Trademark Office on Tuesday titled “Keyboard assemblies having reduced thickness and method of forming keyboard assemblies,” Apple seeks to do just that.

In Apple’s filing, the company suggests the use of a single membrane sheet adhered directly to the printed circuit board (PCB). A switch housing can optionally be affixed directly to the membrane layer or to the PCB, sandwiched between the two, and a dome switch coupled directly on top to the membrane layer.

Generally the membrane is not typically attached to the PCB, but is used to help facilitate the closing of a connection, to trigger the key press. By attaching the membrane completely across the PCB, this eliminates any wasted space and brings the components closer together.

This sounds like it would offer less travel and make repairs more difficult.

11 Comments

NO! For the love of God, NO!

Maybe it's for an iPad keyboard.

After SJ passed, Apple wound up with an excess of C-suite execs who aren't computer people. Since iPhone and iPad were generating the lion's share of revenue, and some of the folks in charge had no appreciation for desktop computing, this is what you get: turn everything into iPhone. And the plan was to slowly morph Mac into an iPad. The keyboard thing is part of that: "no moving parts!" and "touch UI must be superior because we sell a bunch of phones!" After the Mac Pro trashcan fiasco, and the keyboard crumb issues, everything is muddled. Apple is schizophrenic now.

"This sounds like it would offer less travel and make repairs more difficult"

Unless I'm missing something, this is about fusing the guts of the keyboard into a thinner layer. Nothing stopping them from making the actual key they put on top of the guts have good travel and not be susceptible to dust.

>Atari 400 FTW 🤣

LOL. "For an improved typing experience, connect your ZX Spectrum to your MacBook Pro using the included USB to expansion bus adapter."

Sören Nils Kuklau

My hope is that they realize the “one keyboard for the entire line-up” strategy is no longer feasible, and that if the 12-inch MacBook ever does make a come-back (possibly with an ARM CPU, possibly as an “iPad Laptop”, etc.), its keyboard doesn’t also get rolled out to the MacBook Pro later on.

After SJ passed, Apple wound up with an excess of C-suite execs who aren’t computer people.

Not sure how you would define that.

Of their 13 C- or SVP-level execs, eight have computer-adjacent degrees:

Industrial engineer: Tim Cook

Mechanical engineer: Jeff Williams, Dan Riccio, Sabih Khan

Computer scientist: Eddy Cue, Craig Federighi, John Giannandrea, Johny Srouji

Jonathan Ive has a BA, Luca Maestri and Deirdre O’Brien have management-esque degrees, Phil Schiller is a biologist (??), and Katherine Adams, the general counsel, has a law degree.

But those aren’t really in the position to make decisions about computers, with perhaps the exception of Phil, who does appear very interested in pushing computing forward (and also doesn’t fit in the “after SJ passed” narrative).

I don’t think this idea holds water. The two top people, Tim Cook and Jeff Williams, are engineers. They’re not MBAs.

@Sören Tim Cook literally has an MBA from Duke and has said he mostly uses a tablet. But it’s not about academic credentials; it’s obvious that Schiller is more of a computer guy, despite not having a computer-adjacent degree, as you put it.

Sören Nils Kuklau

Tim Cook literally has an MBA from Duke

But also a BSc.

and has said he mostly uses a tablet. But it’s not about academic credentials; it’s obvious that Schiller is more of a computer guy, despite not having a computer-adjacent degree, as you put it.

So I read two implications into this:

that the iPad is “not a real computer” (people used to make precisely the same disparaging argument about the Mac),
that “if Steve were still alive”, Apple would’ve put more of a focus on the Mac

The thing is, we don’t really know that. And we do know that Steve made multiple remarks to the opposite effect: he likened the Mac (and Windows PCs) to trucks and argued that their role will become more specialized in the future. And he said, much earlier, that he would “milk the Macintosh for all it’s worth — and get busy on the next great thing”.

His opinion on the latter may have evolved over time, but still, he probably saw the iPod, then the iPhone and iPad, as that next great thing. Not the Mac.

I would also note that Microsoft, too, has survived by making a pivot that drastically deemphasizes Windows.

@Sören It doesn't sound like you are disputing the original claim about “appreciation for desktop computing.” I don’t mean to imply anything about what Steve would have done—no pointing arguing a hypothetical.

Sören Nils Kuklau

I guess that's fair. I thought "aren't computer people" is a bit broad, but it does seem fair to say that Tim doesn't have "appreciation for desktop computing".

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