Art Kavanagh

Talk about books: a newsletter about things I’ve read

Learning to love (or at least use) Apple’s unlamented butterfly keyboard

Shortly after Apple announced the 2020 MacBook Air, I bought a refurbished 2019 model, so I could find out at first hand what the butterfly key switches feel like. At first, I had a problem with repeated letters (often the “i”) and missed ones (often “t”). At the time, I had a distinct impression that there was a layer of software between my fingers on the keys and the characters appearing on screen, one that was monitoring my keystrokes and second-guessing what I was trying to type. Well, obviously there was software intervening between my keystrokes and the text as saved and displayed, but what I mean is an additional layer whose job was to iron out issues arising from the unconventional mechanism of the keyboard. It felt as if this extra layer occasionally got preempted by other processes — it was as if its attention lapsed momentarily — and introduced new errors instead of correcting existing ones.

Now, this was just a subjective impression, so what was actually going on was more than likely quite different. The first thing I did was to turn off autocorrect. That was a noticeable improvement but didn’t completely eliminate the problem of missed or repeated keystrokes. Nearly five months on, I’ve noticed that the problem has become much rarer. So, what I’m wondering is: have the keyboard and its controlling software adjusted themselves to my way of typing, or have I adapted my typing to them? Either way, I’m now doing a lot more of my writing on the MacBook Air, rather than use the combination of iPad Air and Logitech K380 keboard, which I had previously preferred (and still find very pleasant to type on).