Apple's annual hardware event in October launched last month with announcements about a new MacBook Air and a new Mac mini. Both computers, like the latest MacBook Pro and last year's iMac Pro, are equipped with Apple's security-focused T2 chip. The T2 chip, which serves as a collaborator, is the secret to many of Apple's newest and most advanced features. However, the introduction to more computers and the likelihood that it will be common in all Macs has again worried that Apple is trying to further unlock its devices from third party repairs.
T2 is "a guillotine like [Apple is] keep over "product owners, I will fix it CEO Kyle Wiens told us The limit by email. That's because it's the key to locking down Mac products by just allowing replacement parts in the machine when they come from an authorized source – a process that the T2 chip now checks for after rebooting after repair. "It's very possible the goal is to exercise greater control over who can perform repairs by limiting access to parts," said Wiens. "This could be an attempt to gain more market share from the independent repair vendors. Or it may be a threat to keep your authorized network in line. We just do not know."
Apple confirmed The limit that this is the case for repairs involving some components on newer Macs, such as the logic card and the Touch ID sensor, which is the first time the company has recognized the new repair requirements for T2-equipped Macs. However, Apple could not provide a list of repairs that required this or any devices that were affected. Neither could it say if it started this protocol with iMac Pros's introduction last year or if it's a new policy recently set up.
T2 is a customized component that performs tasks for processing Touch ID fingerprint data. It also stores the encryption keys needed to safely boot the machines on which it is running. Apple says the chip is crucial for new features, so MacBook Pro can respond to "Hey Siri" requests without the need to press a button. It also prevents its portable microphones from being remote controlled by hackers when the cover of the device is closed. The T2 chip can effectively communicate with other components to perform some of the most important and sophisticated tasks that modern Mac users can.
But recent revelations about T2, Apple critics have been worried that it could be used to further shut down DIY enthusiasts and third party repair services. First revealed last month of MacRumors and Motherboard, who both got their hands on an internal Apple document, the T2 chip could render a computer unreachable if, for example, the logic card was replaced, unless the chip recognizes a special piece of diagnostic software has been run. This means that if you want to repair some important parts of your MacBook, iMac or Mac mini, you need to go to an official Apple Store or a workshop that is part of your company's authorized service provider (ASP) network. If you want to repair or build up parts of these devices on your own, you simply can not – at least according to this document.
The relevant parts, according to the document, are the display device, the logic board, the top kit and the Touch ID card for the MacBook Pro and logic board and flash memory on the iMac Pro. It is also likely that logic board repairs on the new MacBook Air and Mac mini are affected, as are Mac mini flash storage. However, the document, which has been distributed earlier this year, does not mention these products because they were unannounced.
Regardless of replacing these parts, a technician would need to run the so-called AST 2 System Configuration package, which Apple distributes only to Apple Stores and Certified ASP. So DIY stores and those coming from the Apple network would be unlucky. As the document says,
For Macs with the Apple T2 chip, the repair process is not complete for some partitions until the AST 2 System Configuration package has been run. Failure to perform this step results in an inoperative system and incomplete repair.
But complicated things, it was unclear if this "kill switch" was active as of last month. Teardown experts on I will fix it, who are also strong attorneys for repair, bought a new 2018 MacBook Pro and discovered that they could still replace the monitor with one from a device they bought in the summer. "To our surprise, the displays and MacBooks usually worked in every combination we tried. We also updated to Mojave and switch logic boards with the same result," I will fix itS Adam O & # 39; Comb wrote in a blog post.
Apple confirmed The limit that the display device would not need the diagnostic tool, but it is unclear why I will fix it Could change logic boards and still start the machines. One possible explanation is that I will fix it Use components already validated by Apple, and the diagnostic tool may only be required for completely new, unused components.
I will fix it speculate that the software could be a mechanism to check that third party repairers use the right components and do not overload customers and use less expensive parts to earn money on the page. It can also be for calibration purposes. However, O & # 39; Comb says that Apple might want more than two-way control over how Macs are being repaired, what parts are used, and how much repairs cost the customer.
To do all this feature is the T2 chip, an now integrated part of Mac's hardware and software ecosystem, as Apple says enables all possible critical security features. In this respect, it may be easy to run the software audio response on T2-enabled devices to ensure that all security-focused features enabled by the chip remain intact after repairs, such as the iMac Pro logic card or ID card on the MacBook Pro. It's really reasonable, but Apple's lack of clarity when, why, and to what extent, the initiation of the diagnostic tool has led to confusion and concern.
Apple says that a large majority of repairs can be performed without the need for the tool, and it is certain that most Mac owners will never have to replace a logic card or Touch ID sensor on its own. Both components are parts Apple says it is only distributed, whereas solid state devices on most modern Macs, such as the new Mac mini, can not be replaced because they are soldered either on other parts or on the housing.
So while Apple may not have initiated this protocol for all T2-equipped devices or simply does not need it on used parts like I will fix itS demonstrations clarified, the company's confirmation that it still requires some kind of proprietary software can add more fuel to the slow repeatability debate. Criticism, with I will fix it among the red ones, has hit Apple earlier for how its environment and reuse pledge squares with the reality of its repair practices and its lifespan.
On stage, Apple held the new MacBook Air and Mac mini as the first products made from recycled aluminum. It was also reported that Apple plans an expansion of its repair services to include a "vintage" option for older devices, such as the iPhone 4S and the 2012 MacBook Pro, which have since been removed from repair skills. In addition, Apple seems to have made the new MacBook Air battery easier to replace and got 2018 Mac mini owners to replace RAM on the new machine, a change from the 2014 model.
Yet Apple devices are still among the most difficult in the industry to repair due to custom screws, unibody covers and manufacturing decisions that make certain parts unobstructed. The end result is that a large majority of iPhone and Mac owners depend on Apple or its members in their trusted repair network to get the devices fixed or reuse old. It's a matter of not living near an Apple Store or one of its authorized vendors, but it's also a problem because Apple-made repairs tend to be more expensive than third parties and the lack of meaningful competition can lead to higher prices on the road. .
The company also opposes the right to repair legislation that would mean that it makes instructions and tools available to DIY hobbyists and third party repairers. Regardless of this setting, Apple owners may be more likely to simply buy a new device instead of repairing a current or renovating an old one. Some environmental advocates may fear complicating efforts to reduce e-waste.
Apple can only reuse as much of a device and recycle the rest, but it still has to provide a limited amount of minerals and other key factors that end up in the production of phones and computers. And the technology industry, like Apple, is the most visible player and definitely not the biggest or single perpetrator, has accelerated its production of new devices over the past decade.
Of course, the debate about iPhone repairability is much more complex than Macs. Customers tend to replace phones more often than computers, and there are a number of incentives – like Apple's iPhone Upgrade Program and the fact that smartphone batteries are deteriorating – which encourages the frequent purchase of new phones. A MacBook Pro owner is much more likely to get his laptop repaired, even if it requires it to be sent to Apple for two weeks, then they will throw out the computer and buy a new one.
However, with the T2 diagnostic requirement, Macs can soon be even harder to repair than they already are, and I will fix itS Wiens says that, whatever motivator that requires you to go through Apple's network, it can have negative consequences for all parties involved. "It would be a very dangerous precedent, and could get things in legal danger," he said.
Wiens noted how Error 53, which masoned iPhones using third party components, forced Apple to develop a response to the problem. The Australian government fined $ 6.6 million when Apple Store employees informed users that their broken phones were quite irreversible. In the same way last year's battery failure failure, where it was revealed Apple stifled older iPhones to prevent accidental shutdown, led to battery replacement compensation over the past 12 months and a congressional investigation.
"If they do, it will dramatically increase the likelihood that the right to repair legislation passes and force them to reverse the course," said Wiens, referring to Apple that requires the diagnostic tool on all future logic cards and Touch ID reimbursements. "Locking repairs is bad for consumers, bad for the environment, and bad for Apple."