Pixel Envy

Written by Nick Heer.

Apple Confirms That the T2 Chip Can Lock Macs With Invalid Logic Board or Touch ID Repairs

Nick Statt, the Verge:

The T2 is “a guillotine that [Apple is] holding over” product owners, iFixit CEO Kyle Wiens told The Verge over email. That’s because it’s the key to locking down Mac products by only allowing select replacement parts into the machine when they’ve come from an authorized source — a process that the T2 chip now checks for during post-repair reboot. “It’s very possible the goal is to exert more control over who can perform repairs by limiting access to parts,” Wiens said. “This could be an attempt to grab more market share from the independent repair providers. Or it could be a threat to keep their authorized network in line. We just don’t know.”

It’s unfortunate that those are the only two possibilities in Wiens’ mind: either Apple is being a dictator or an autocrat. “We just don’t know”. Is there any reason that could be less insidious and headline-grabbing, and more justifiable?

Apple confirmed to The Verge that this is the case for repairs involving certain components on newer Macs, like the logic board and Touch ID sensor, which is the first time the company has publicly acknowledged the new repair requirements for T2-equipped Macs. But Apple could not provide a list of repairs that required this or what devices were affected. It also couldn’t say whether it began this protocol with the iMac Pro’s introduction last year or if it’s a new policy instituted recently.

Apple is requiring that repairs involving security-sensitive components use genuine Apple parts and are verified after completion — I know that’s a somewhat less attention-grabbing story, but it is a more accurate take on what the company is doing here. That’s not to defend this practice, by the way. It’s understandable, given the prevalence of badly-made fake components that could compromise security, but I wish there were alternatives for those who don’t live close to an Apple Store.

Also, for what it’s worth, I think it’s slightly irresponsible to be quoting Wiens at length for stories like these without disclosing fully that iFixit sells replacement parts and servicing tools. I know that’s fairly widely-known, but journalists should disclose financial interests or other conflicts-of-interests that their sources might hold. I don’t think there’s anything shameful or untrustworthy about putting quotes in context.