• Apple ditched the problematic butterfly keyboard recently
  • The company shifted to a keyboard that uses a more reliable mechanism
  • A new patent describes a keyboard with keycaps made of transparent glass

Apple recently released a new keyboard for Macs and the iPad Pro called the Magic Keyboard. This keyboard marks the company's decision to ditch the problematic butterfly keyboard which, as slim as it was, was prone to issues like malfunctioning keys.

A new patent application, however, indicates that Apple is not content with using a more reliable mechanism so that its keyboards will be durable and long-lasting. The patent shows that the company is looking for ways to make the keyboards look better, with keycaps that will last way longer than current models do. Per the patent, Apple plans to do this using glass keycaps.

The patent application, aptly titled “Transparent Keycaps,” was filed to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in May last year. It describes the new keyboard as having keycaps made of transparent glass. The keycaps will have glyphs that are printed at the bottom. There will be backlights to illuminate the keys so that users can see what they're pressing.

The patent describes the keys as comprised of glass or a combination of glass and another material, such as a polymer material. The glass will be placed at the top of the transparent body (made of glass or polymer). The glass will be curved, either cylindrically or spherically concave, to help users determine the edge of a key.

iPad Pro Magic Keyboard
The new Magic Keyboard for the iPad Pro Apple

At the bottom surface of the transparent body rests a glyph made of a material that can block light. The glyphs will block the light emitted by the backlights embedded in the keyboard.

The inventors claim that by using concaved glass and light-blocking materials as glyphs, printed at the bottom surface of the keys, the new keyboard will bring many benefits, which are the following:

  • First, easier typing. The inventors, led by Apple's Paul X. Wang, noted that the shape of the glass will help users in positioning their fingers correctly and will also help them determine the edge or another portion of the keycap without having to look.
  • Second, improved aethestics and visibility. The transparent keys will be able to transfer, reflect or distribute light, including the keyboard's backlighting. This will result to a more aesthetically appealing keyboard.
  • Third, durability. The glyphs, printed at the bottom surface, will not fade or disappear like glyphs that are printed at the top of the keys. The glass surfaces will also resist scratching and other blemishes.
Apple Transparent Keycaps
Apple is looking into creating transparent keycaps for its future Macs and MacBooks Apple/USPTO