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Apple has added an anti-eavesdropping feature to the 2020 iPad Pro that ensures the microphone hardware is disabled when a case is attached to the iPad and closed.

ipadpromagickeyboard.jpg

The security feature was first introduced in 2018 in MacBook models using Apple's T2 security chip, which includes a hardware microphone disconnect feature that disables the mics when the notebook's lid is closed.

As spotted by 9to5Mac, an updated version of Apple's Platform Security document makes clear that the anti-eavesdropping is also available on all 2020 iPad Pro models when using an MFi-compliant case.
iPad models beginning in 2020 also feature the hardware microphone disconnect. When an MFi compliant case (including those sold by Apple) is attached to the iPad and closed, the microphone is disconnected in hardware, preventing microphone audio data being made available to any software--even with root or kernel privileges in iPadOS or in case the firmware is compromised.
Apple updated the 11-inch and 12.9-inch iPad Pro models last month with a faster A12Z Bionic chip, a new 10MP Ultra Wide camera to complement the traditional 12MP camera, and a LiDAR depth scanner for improved augmented reality experiences.

For some 2018 iPad Pro owners at least, these updates are relatively modest, but the new security features outlined in Apple's documentation may be enough to tempt more privacy-conscious users.

Article Link: 2020 iPad Pro Includes Microphone Hardware Disconnect Security Feature
 
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GubbyMan

macrumors 6502
Apr 3, 2011
385
1,669
Doesn't matter if the cover is closed or not, it's still unworkable and incredibly stupid after 8 years.

Siri works really well for me and I would like it to work even if I have a keyboard case with the cover closed. I hope they have a setting for that.

And this isn’t just about Siri. What if I’m recording a voice memo or something similar. I used to do that a lot with the Smart cover on my iPad 2 to record lectures at the university.
 

subjonas

macrumors 68040
Feb 10, 2014
3,653
3,516
I appreciate this kind of thing, Apple.

This also seems to give validity to camera covers.
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Siri works really well for me and I would like it to work even if I have a keyboard case with the cover closed. I hope they have a setting for that.

And this isn’t just about Siri. What if I’m recording a voice memo or something similar. I used to do that a lot with the Smart cover on my iPad 2 to record lectures at the university.
An optional setting would be good. But if not, only options would be to use Hey Siri on another device if you have one, and to leave your ipad uncovered during the lecture.
 

BigMovieGeek

macrumors regular
May 22, 2010
168
93
I appreciate this kind of thing, Apple.

This also seems to give validity to camera covers.
[automerge]1585906855[/automerge]

An optional setting would be good. But if not, only options would be to use Hey Siri on another device if you have one, and to leave your ipad uncovered during the lecture.

The thing I love about the Mac is that the camera and green light are linked together through hardware. If the camera is switched on, that light will show. Because of that, I’ve never worried about a cover on my laptop.
 

Falhófnir

macrumors 603
Aug 19, 2017
5,725
6,403
Good, ultimately nothing software based is 100% secure, this at least will be.

Siri works really well for me and I would like it to work even if I have a keyboard case with the cover closed. I hope they have a setting for that.

And this isn’t just about Siri. What if I’m recording a voice memo or something similar. I used to do that a lot with the Smart cover on my iPad 2 to record lectures at the university.
If it's a hardware deactivation of the mic, there's definitely no software path around it, that's the whole point!
 

EmotionalSnow

macrumors regular
Nov 1, 2019
246
734
Linz, Austria
Siri works really well for me and I would like it to work even if I have a keyboard case with the cover closed. I hope they have a setting for that.

And this isn’t just about Siri. What if I’m recording a voice memo or something similar. I used to do that a lot with the Smart cover on my iPad 2 to record lectures at the university.

This security feature is built into the iPad and is not controlled by software to ensure security. The downside is that it is impossible to turn it off, you would need to literally open up your iPad and disable this.
 

GubbyMan

macrumors 6502
Apr 3, 2011
385
1,669
This security feature is built into the iPad and is not controlled by software to ensure security. The downside is that it is impossible to turn it off, you would need to literally open up your iPad and disable this.

So how would this work? If the keyboard case tells the iPad that it’s covered then the signal has to go through the Smart Connector which means it’s software based.

The only other solution I can think of to do this with hardware is by using magnets to physically cut out the connection to the mic.
 
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Morgenland

macrumors 65816
May 28, 2009
1,204
1,252
Europe
Only an electro-mechanical hardware interruption is trustworthy and can be verified by people like e.g. MacFixit. Technically this might be represented by miniaturized magnetic reed contacts. It works retro, but it is the only protection device that can be verified with certainty.
All software protection mechanisms are dump and ridiculous.
We know this from the LED camera display on non-Apple devices, which did not light up even though the camera was running.

I am excited, Apple will disclose its implementation, and thus continue to build trust.
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This security feature is built into the iPad and is not controlled by software to ensure security. The downside is that it is impossible to turn it off, you would need to literally open up your iPad and disable this.
Why "downside"? Are you a private person or a government body (e.g. from China)
 
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Kabeyun

macrumors 68040
Mar 27, 2004
3,170
5,971
Eastern USA
Yet more Apple privacy goodness. This is where Apple shines. I will never go Android because I will never trust it. And yes, you can thank Tim Cook for doubling down on privacy as the defining tech issue of our time.
What if I want Siri to work?
Doesn't matter if the cover is closed or not, it's still unworkable and incredibly stupid after 8 years.
True, Siri is a pain in the ass. But I’ll tolerate that pain in exchange for a trustworthy container for my personal data. That’s a far bigger consideration that Siri’s feebleness.
 

subjonas

macrumors 68040
Feb 10, 2014
3,653
3,516
The thing I love about the Mac is that the camera and green light are linked together through hardware. If the camera is switched on, that light will show. Because of that, I’ve never worried about a cover on my laptop.
That’s a great feature. I assume Apple doesn’t do that for their iPhones and iPads because it would have a greater effect on battery life because of the smaller batteries. Of course, one major advantage a cover has over a light is a cover doesn’t require your attention, if say you leave your laptop open and go about your room in view of the camera.

Just curious, do you cover your phone and tablet cameras then? FYI I cover all the cameras on all my devices except my iPhone back camera because I use it so often.
 

BigMovieGeek

macrumors regular
May 22, 2010
168
93
That’s a great feature. I assume Apple doesn’t do that for their iPhones and iPads because it would have a greater effect on battery life because of the smaller batteries. Of course, one major advantage a cover has over a light is a cover doesn’t require your attention, if say you leave your laptop open and go about your room in view of the camera.

Just curious, do you cover your phone and tablet cameras then? FYI I cover all the cameras on all my devices except my iPhone back camera because I use it so often.

I’ll be honest, I don’t cover my phone camera, but when the iPad is closed, it’s blocked by the case. As for my laptop, I tend to work with highly confidential material, so if I’m ever away from it, I close the lid out of habit.
 
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mijail

macrumors 6502a
Oct 31, 2010
559
138
The thing I love about the Mac is that the camera and green light are linked together through hardware. If the camera is switched on, that light will show. Because of that, I’ve never worried about a cover on my laptop.

That was very much NOT the case some years ago – someone disassembled the camera to show that the light was a software-driven feature. Where did you see that they are linked now? Any idea from which year/model?

Found the article, from 2013:
 

JosephAW

macrumors 601
May 14, 2012
4,257
5,141
What does Apple know that they haven't told us?

I seen too many laptops and iPads with tape and bandaids covering the camera. Even on the local news I've seen electrical tape over their cameras on the Mac laptops while reporting the news.
 

Deimos-7

macrumors newbie
Apr 3, 2020
1
6
New York City
When The camera is activated, the electricity used to power the camera also powers the led for the indicator light. It simply added in series electrically, so it can’t be bypassed with a software hack. If the light is on, the camera is receiving electricity, if it’s off, so is the camera.
It’s a really nice attention to detail by Apple.

Is that true! I didn’t know that :)
 

Supermacguy

macrumors 6502
Jan 3, 2008
371
600
Now if they just put that switch physically on the outside, and/or one for the camera, then we're good, no worries, and you can leave it on if you like "hey siri".

Who'da thunk actual hardware solutions would be so easy?
 

mijail

macrumors 6502a
Oct 31, 2010
559
138
When The camera is activated, the electricity used to power the camera also powers the led for the indicator light. It simply added in series electrically, so it can’t be bypassed with a software hack. If the light is on, the camera is receiving electricity, if it’s off, so is the camera.
It’s a really nice attention to detail by Apple.

Again: in 2013 this was NOT the case. How do you know that it is like that now? Do you have any reference?

The 2013 article: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-switch/wp/2013/12/18/research-shows-how-macbook-webcams-can-spy-on-their-users-without-warning/
 
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iMacDragon

macrumors 68000
Oct 18, 2008
1,999
402
UK
That was very much NOT the case some years ago – someone disassembled the camera to show that the light was a software-driven feature. Where did you see that they are linked now? Any idea from which year/model?

Found the article, from 2013:
Even the linked article notes this only definitely applied to macs older than 2008, i Recall articles around the time about how it had changed
 

mijail

macrumors 6502a
Oct 31, 2010
559
138
Even the linked article notes this only definitely applied to macs older than 2008

Not true.
While the research focused on MacBook and iMac models released before 2008, the authors say similar techniques could work on more recent computers from a wide variety of vendors.



i Recall articles around the time about how it had changed
So, any references?

I think it is interesting that the security document featured in the OP does NOT mention anything about the LED...

And FWIW, the iSight Wikipedia page mentions the vulnerability (iSeeYou), but not that it was fixed.
 
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mrex

macrumors 68040
Jul 16, 2014
3,444
1,515
europe
Yet more Apple privacy goodness. This is where Apple shines. I will never go Android because I will never trust it. And yes, you can thank Tim Cook for doubling down on privacy as the defining tech issue of our time.


True, Siri is a pain in the ass. But I’ll tolerate that pain in exchange for a trustworthy container for my personal data. That’s a far bigger consideration that Siri’s feebleness.

Shines? Did you already forget that apple allowed developers to build databases and sell stuff from the beginning until the new guideline was added to to the appstore/developer part. And it only says ”if you get caught by selling..., your account may be cancelled” or so. Apple hasnt restricted anything, only advises to do it on right way - as every developers will do, of course. Developers can still do alot if you ever allowed the app to access your photos, contacts or what so ever.

Remember botnet running with macs for years?

im sure apple does some better, but no - it doesnt shine on privacy, maybe giving a false feeling about being safe.
 

Jakewilk

macrumors 6502
Jul 21, 2014
306
707
So how would this work? If the keyboard case tells the iPad that it’s covered then the signal has to go through the Smart Connector which means it’s software based.

The only other solution I can think of to do this with hardware is by using magnets to physically cut out the connection to the mic.

It’s likely a mechanism that uses the magnets in a compatible smart case to break the circuit for the microphone
 
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recoil80

macrumors 68040
Jul 16, 2014
3,111
2,753
I don't know if it is related to security or not, but I noticed that AirDrop doesn't work when my Mac is in clamshell mode. The camera of course can't work, I didn't test the mic as I'm using my iPad for the video calls with the team.
 
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