Apple is reportedly planning to create new types of buttons for its iPhones. A patent filed by the company suggests just that.
Mechanical buttons are generally reliable and provide inherent haptic feedback, as a user can often feel the mechanism of the button moving, for example between button positions. However, mechanical switches typically have set haptic outputs or feedback, dictated by their design.
Also, as electronic devices have become more space-constrained, mechanical buttons have presented problems and design limitations. Many mechanical switches need a minimum amount of space to operate. For example, a typical dome switch needs about 200 microns of travel for the dome to collapse and close the switch. This is especially problematic in very thin electronic devices.
Many pivoting buttons travel 10 microns or less when force is exerted thereon. Pivoting buttons can use force sensors to determine when the button is pressed, for example. The force sensor registers a change in capacitance, resistance, current, voltage, or other electrical value when the pivoting button moves or flexes, even though such motion may be very small.
However, some tech analysts suggest that this patent could also be for newer types of keys for a MacBook. We just cannot know for sure now. Apple has a track record of focusing on reducing the thickness of its products while destroying the functionality – butterfly keyboard, MacBook chassis, and more.
Nonetheless, Apple has changed since then and it makes much more reliable products now. For example, the current generation iPhone 11 Pro models are thicker compared to last year’s models while packing larger batteries. The MacBook Pros are also thicker, offering better thermal management and improved keyboard typing experience.
Apple finally ditched the troubled thin butterfly keyboard and switched back to using its traditional scissor switch keyboard with some improvements. The 16” MacBook Pro offers extremely powerful components along with thermals that are able to handle the heat generated by the powerful components.