This 2020 MacBook rumor is more bad news for the butterfly keyboard

A new MacBook Pro and a new MacBook Air design switching away from Apple's little-loved butterfly keyboards are tipped for the first half of 2020, with one analyst suggesting the new laptops would complete the Cupertino firm's transition away from the troubled switch mechanism. Apple moved away from its homegrown butterfly key switch with the launch of the 16-inch MacBook Pro last year, adopting a new version of the scissor mechanism.

The decision came after several years of complaints about the butterfly keys. Initially designed to increase key stability while reducing travel, so as to allow Apple to reduce the key tray depth of its notebooks, the switches ran into issues with stickiness.

Apple was forced to enact a repair program, but even that proved frustrating given the whole keyboard assembly needed to be swapped out even if a single key was at fault. With the arrival of the 16-inch MacBook Pro in 2019, it seemed likely that the company would transition away from the butterfly to a new Magic Keyboard as it updated its notebooks. Now, the next phase of that looks to be approaching.

New MacBook Pro and MacBook Air models are expected in the second quarter of this year, analyst Ming-Chi Kuo says. In an note to investors reviewed by MacRumors, the analyst gave scant details about the hardware itself. Even the size of the MacBook Pro he was referring to was not given.

Still, it looks likely to be the 14-inch MacBook Pro that has been rumored for some time now. That would slot in underneath the 16-inch version, and replace the existing 13-inch notebook. Thanks to skinnier bezels, it's not expected to be noticeably larger than the current model.

In addition to the new keyboards, other changes are believed to be invisible to end-users. Kuo says that he's expecting Apple to enact "cost optimizations" to the new Macs, but that they'll be done in a way to keep those changes under the hood rather than visible.

With Apple's purported event at the end of March now believed to be off the calendar, the big question is when the company might choose to announce its new hardware. Coronavirus has impacted manufacturing, and there are rumors that new devices like the iPhone 9 have been set back as a result. According to Kuo, conditions at suppliers are likely to improve from late March, and thus he's predicting mass production shortly after that in time for a release sometime in Q2.