The latest iPad Pro tablet has a security feature that ensures the microphone is cut off whenever a certified case is closed.
The anti-snooping feature, which sounds like something that should already have been in place, will apply to all first and third-party cases that adhere to the company’s Made for iPad certification.
Apple added the feature to MacBooks back in 2018, ensuring that the microphone was deactivated whenever the lid is closed. However, considering the iPad Pro doesn’t have a lid, as such, it’s taken a little longer for the security aid to come to the Pro tablet.
The discovery was made by 9to5Mac and sits within Apple’s Platform Security guide and outlines that no software can access the microphone if that case is shut – even if the hardware has been compromised by an intruder.
Apple explains in the document: “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.”
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In MacBooks the feature requires Apple’s T2 security chip, but that hardware is not present within the new iPad Pro, so it’s not entirely clear what element of the hardware makes this possible. One assumes it’s to do with the Bionic A12Z chipset that powers the device.
There must be something in the iPad Pro 2020 hardware that makes this possible, otherwise there’d be no reason why earlier models and others in the iPad range could benefit from the same technology.
The 2020 version of the iPad Pro offers that new chipset, while also adding trackpad support and introducing a LiDAR scanner for measuring distance.