A full-size keyboard is an essential part of MacBook. In order to fit a full-size keyboard in the incredibly thin MacBook, Apple has designed the keyboard from the ground up. Each component has been rethought specifically for the new MacBook, from the underlying mechanism to the curvature of the surface of each key to the distinctive new typeface. The result is a keyboard dramatically thinner than its predecessor. Now when the user’s finger strikes the key, it goes down and bounces back with a crisp, consistent motion that makes typing with precision a breeze.
Traditional keyboards use a scissor mechanism, which tends to wobble around the edges. This creates a lack of precision when the user strike anywhere except the center of the key. The team needed to reduce key wobbling for a keyboard this thin; otherwise, striking a key off-center could result in the keycap hitting bottom before a keystroke registers. So they designed an entirely new butterfly mechanism, which is wider than the scissor mechanism and has a single assembly made from a stiffer material — allowing for a more stable, responsive key that takes up less vertical space. This innovative design improves stability, uniformity, and control — no matter where you press on the key.
The new Force Touch trackpad may look like other trackpads on the surface, but underneath it’s unlike anything that’s existed before. Force sensors detect how much pressure you’re applying, and the new Taptic Engine provides a click sensation when you press anywhere on the surface. Now the click that once was a single, mechanical function is just the start of what you can do with Force Touch. The sensory capabilities of the Force Touch trackpad allow you to tell your MacBook what you want it to do based on subtle differences in the amount of pressure you apply. This makes it possible to perform a variety of different actions in different apps, all on the same surface. And it can respond with haptic feedback the user can actually feel, making the MacBook more usable and personal than ever before.
The tiny logic board (aka the motherboard) fits in one of your hands. It’s literally packed on both sides with chips of varying sizes and includes everything from memory to storage and even the display drivers. It’s also deeply informed by everything Apple learned from building circuit boards for handheld technologies like the iPhone. Almost the size of a Raspberry Pi 2 board!
The new MacBook is the first Mac notebook ever without a fan. Since the Intel Core M chip draws only 5 watts of power and therefore generates less heat, no fan or heat pipe is required. Instead, the logic board is seated on top of an anisotropic graphite sheet, which helps disperse any heat that is generated out to the sides, all while your Mac stays virtually silent. The new MacBook is made even more efficient by OS X features like Timer Coalescing, App Nap, and Safari Power Saver, which ensure that every task is performed using just the right amount of power. No more, no less.
Apple’s battery breakthrough is already paying dividends in Apple’s super-slender MacBook. In order to achieve that 13.1 mm silhouette—and still deliver reasonable battery life while powering a 12-inch Retina display—the company’s engineers had to develop something entirely new. What they came up with is a terraced battery cell, a unique design that adds 35 percent more battery capacity than would otherwise be achievable.
“It might seem like a low level innovation, but it’s an incredibly clever design,” Jeff Chamberlain, executive director of the Joint Center for Energy Storage Research, told WIRED. In fact, it’s a whole new way of thinking about batteries.
A typical lithium ion battery “pouch” type cell comprises layers of a thin sheet of aluminum or copper, coatings of a specialized material that can absorb lithium ions, and layers of plastic. Each of these layers is mere microns thick.
What Apple has figured out, according to a patent filed back in early 2012, is how to fit these stacked electrode sheets into any size cell they choose. These different-sized cells can then be stacked on top of one another, allowing its engineers to pack as much battery as possible into any given space.
In order to assemble the terraced battery cells in the MacBook, Apple says it used high speed cameras to take photos of the casing and the battery. This process documents the minute variations in each that occur during real-world production, so that Apple can fit the batteries inside each individual casing with an unprecedented degree of precision.
Apple also—according to what it said during its Monday keynote—tweaked the chemical formula inside the cells. That didn’t have any bearing on the unique battery shape, but by altering the composition, Apple could eke a little bit more efficiency over previous MacBook batteries.