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Report: Backlit keyboards returning to MacBook Air

Irked that you can't see the keyboard keys well when using the MacBook Air in the dark? That might be a thing of the past with Apple reportedly bringing backlit keys back to its upcoming Air models.

Josh Lowensohn Former Senior Writer
Josh Lowensohn joined CNET in 2006 and now covers Apple. Before that, Josh wrote about everything from new Web start-ups, to remote-controlled robots that watch your house. Prior to joining CNET, Josh covered breaking video game news, as well as reviewing game software. His current console favorite is the Xbox 360.
Josh Lowensohn

Apple's backlit keyboard.
Apple's backlit keyboard. Josh Lowensohn/CNET

It's not unusual for Apple to remove features in new versions of things. It happens in software, and it happens in the company's computers, too. One notable removal that accompanied the MacBook Air's overhaul last October was the nixing of the backlit keyboard--the feature that lights up the keys so you can see them in the dark.

According to AppleInsider, the eyeball-friendly feature is making a comeback in the much-expected refresh of the MacBook Air line, which is the same update that's expected to bring Intel's Sandy Bridge Core i series processors, along with a Thunderbolt port to bring high-speed I/O connectivity. The MacBook Pro and iMac lines already received those last two features in updates earlier this year.

Apple first introduced its backlit keyboard technology as a top-of-the-line feature in the 17-inch model of its PowerBook G4 notebook, later adding it to the rest of the Pro notebook line. The original MacBook Air, which made its debut at the Macworld expo in 2008, came with the feature from the get-go.

In a poll last month, CNET readers voted it the second-most wanted feature in an updated Air, beating out Thunderbolt, a black version, and a mobile broadband antenna.

Alleged part numbers for the new MacBook Air models, along with new versions of Apple's Mac Pro desktop towers, popped up yesterday. New versions of those products are expected to coincide with Lion, Apple's upcoming Mac OS X update, scheduled for release this month.