Every Apple MacBook released since 2018 has had a privacy feature that disconnects the microphone hardware when the lid is closed so that nobody can take control of your computer and listen when you think the system is sleeping.
Now Apple is bringing the same hardware mic disconnect feature to iPads, starting with this year’s new iPad Pro models.
Of course, the iPad Pro isn’t a laptop… so how exactly do you disconnect the microphone? By using it like a laptop.
According to Apple, the microphone is automatically disconnected when you use the iPad Pro with an MFI compliant case that’s attached to the tablet and closed. That should include third-party keyboards and covers as well as those sold by Apple.
Since the hardware is disconnected and not just disabled, Apple says that there’s no way for any software (even software with root or kernel privileges) to activate the microphone.
Apple says the hardware disconnect is tied to its T2 Security Chip, which is included on all recent MacBook laptops as well as the new iPad Pro.
I know this sounds nitpicky, but I don’t really like that Apple uses the lid being closed on Macbooks as the method to disconnect the mic.
1. This assumes the only times that I want microphone privacy is when I’m not using the computer.
2. This requires closing the lid, which is a silly thing to do for those of us who use our macbooks 90% of the time on a laptop stand at our desks. Macbooks don’t have the longest lifespan in their hinges.
Id rather have a physical switch, but i know that’s not Apple’s style…
What is a hardware disconnect? Is there a physical relay? Something happens at the circuitry level? If it is not a manual switch that a human operates, how can it be really secure?
My guess is that one of the lines between the condenser and the rest of the microphone circuit has a tiny iron mass on a spring in the middle of it. When you close the lid, the mass is pulled towards the magnet and stops touching whatever conductor it normally touches.
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