‘Maybe It’s a Piece of Dust’

Casey Johnston, writing for The Outline:

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 inner workings. 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 reliability of the new MacBook/Pro keyboards seems like a huge problem. A piece of fucking dust? Say what you want about the feel (and sound) of these new keyboards, the one thing that must be true for any good keyboard is that it has to be reliable. Like totally reliable. So reliable that it’s confusing when something does go wrong. That’s how Apple laptop keyboards have always been, dating back to the earliest days of the PowerBooks. There’ve been some I didn’t enjoy — the squishy-feeling iBook G3 keyboard comes to mind — but they’ve always been reliable.

I find these keyboards — specifically, the tales of woe about keys getting stuck or ceasing to work properly — a deeply worrisome sign about Apple’s priorities today.

Tuesday, 17 October 2017