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Apple has a kill switch for unauthorized repairs in new Macs, but it hasn't been activated...

By mongeese · 36 replies
Oct 7, 2018
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  1. After acquiring the report, Motherboard immediately put iFixit CEO Kyle Weins on the phone, who said that “there’s two possible explanations: this is a continued campaign of obsolescence and they want to control the ecosystem and bring all repair into the network they control. Another is security, but I don’t see a security model that doesn’t trust the owner of the device making much sense.”

    iFixit just went out and brought a shiny new MacBook Pro today, and put it to the test, swapping the displays and logic boards with the MacBook Pro from their teardown. Nothing happened. They concluded: “Apple’s secret repair kill switch hasn’t been activated – yet.”

    Let’s take a deeper dive. The document, first obtained by Motherboard and Mac Rumors, details that any device with Apple’s new T2 security chip – the 2018 MacBook Pro and iMac Pro – would require Apple’s proprietary ‘Apple Service Toolkit 2 (AST 2) System Configuration Suite’ to function at all. The document states that the software performs a “quick health check of hardware and software,” but it will actually completely inhibit the devices' basic functions.

    Repairs that require the AST 2 software to work include any that replace the display assembly, logic board, keyboard, touchpad, internal housing or TouchID board of a MacBook Pro and the logic board and flash storage of an iMac Pro. That covers any serious repairs and all upgrades.

    To use the AST 2 software (which is only given out very carefully under strict legal agreements) the repairer must connect to Apple’s Global Service Exchange cloud server to “complete the repair.” That requires an Apple login, making a workaround impossible.

    It’s already well-known that Apple restricts who can repair their devices pretty heavily, so how much damage can this do? In the best case scenario for an Apple user who lives close to an Apple store or one of the very few authorized repairers, the price of the repair will remain at Apple’s current high prices. With no competition from third-party repair centers, Apple can charge however much they want, and you may see prices increase.

    If you’re like me however and live a hundred miles away from the nearest Apple store, then you can’t get your device repaired without getting the device there. For me, that’s either a four-hour round trip or a very expensive (and slow) post.

    It’s also quite brutal on schools, companies and DIY-ers who are used to conducting repairs themselves at a fraction of the price. But it is worst of all for all the third-party repairers whose livelihood depended on repairing Apple products.

    Fortunately, the so-called ‘kill switch’ isn’t in play as iFixit has shown. As iFixit’s Adam O’Camb puts it, “That’s a promising sign, and it means the sky isn’t quite falling—yet.”

    We have no idea when or how it will be activated. Apple has declined to comment.

    Why would Apple do this? The security angle does make some sense. If your MacBook is stolen, you wouldn’t want someone just replacing the logic board to make it resalable or to access your files. But it does make it so unreasonably and unnecessarily hard for the consumer – many people have commented saying how much they don’t want this.

    More likely is that this is Apple’s long-term plan to fight against the ‘Right to Repair.’ The right to repair is an umbrella term referring to the right of the owner of a device to repair it at a reasonable cost without the manufacturer putting any barriers in their way. Currently, 19 U.S. states are considering legislating this, but it’s known that Apple is lobbying against them in New York where lobbying records must be made public. It’s conceivable that by claiming that this is a security feature and by linking it to the T2 security chip, they could get away with restricting users’ right to repair even if the legislation does pass.

    If you want to stop Apple and other large companies from doing things like this, you can do so by supporting organizations and companies like iFixit. At the end of the day, though, Apple might be just shooting itself in the foot, because who wants to buy a device that is so hard to repair?

    Permalink to story.

  2. psycros

    psycros TS Evangelist Posts: 2,582   +2,302

    The majority of people who buy Apple computers and peripherals have little interest in repairing anything. Cost is typically the last thing they consider because their either well-off or irresponsible. History shows that this is rarely a sustainable model unless you're catering to the truly wealthy (think Ferrari or Rolex). We're already seeing value-oriented competitors steadily eroding Apple's share of the computer market and this trend shows no sign of reversing. Sooner or later Apple will be forced to make changes or suffer the way they did in the 90's. Activating the kill switch will be a huge PR boon for their competitors and will draw the attention of politicians who like to paint themselves as friends of the consumer.
  3. gigantor21

    gigantor21 TS Maniac Posts: 159   +214

    Given the cost and difficulty of repairing newer Apple hardware, this just seemed like the next logical step for Apple anyway. Revolting, but not surprising.
  4. I had become disenchanted with Apple products in recent years as their price : performance continues to shoot to the moon. Implementing a technology to prevent "unauthorized repairs" is a permanent deal breaker. Won't purchase anything Apple from this point on.
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 9, 2018
  5. penn919

    penn919 TS Maniac Posts: 249   +127

    Why anyone continues to support this horrible company, I'll never know.
  6. cliffordcooley

    cliffordcooley TS Guardian Fighter Posts: 11,208   +4,876

    To be honest, the other options are starting to look just as bleak. At least on the mobile front we have Android. But even Android has its problems.
    Godel likes this.
  7. Evernessince

    Evernessince TS Evangelist Posts: 3,657   +2,976

    For the same reason Humans hold traditions, because it's what they've known and always done.
  8. josebbrr

    josebbrr TS Rookie

    That's really stupid mocking that. Apple products, the newer ones are not repairable. If you do so, you are willing to void your warranty, period.
    If you don't want to pay Apple care pay at least warranty policy because **** happens. You can be stolen, the PC can fall apart etc. You don't know what can be. Apple care should take any repair into account, and if you don't agree just dont buy Apple.
    These are not made to be repaired from these uncle Joes, these guys has no idea what they are trying to "repair". We are not living in our parents day when electronics could be opened and repaired, that's not possible, these all glued and soldered into motherboard, you have no business inside a MacBook Pro!
  9. josebbrr

    josebbrr TS Rookie

    Because they works. I'm a programmer, my macbook is much superior than any ordinary windows PC available. I'm working on this field more than 20 years and I know, productivity on a machine pays well, you don't stress on a macbook and things works, that results in software being delivered and I being paid.
  10. OneSpeed

    OneSpeed TS Evangelist Posts: 310   +123

    Uhm, I think you've had too much cool-aid.
  11. cliffordcooley

    cliffordcooley TS Guardian Fighter Posts: 11,208   +4,876

    And that is part of the problem. I don't like paying for disposable goods. When those goods can easily be made reparable.
  12. Trillionsin

    Trillionsin TS Evangelist Posts: 1,765   +373


    So you really have had too much cool-aid.

    Please list the specs of your "my macbook is much superior than any ordinary windows PC available" and I'll glady post some PC's that have better specs.

    MRW His Macbook is a 2015 or older model.

    Last edited: Oct 7, 2018
    BMAN61, ShObiT, Reehahs and 3 others like this.
  13. Dimitrios

    Dimitrios TS Maniac Posts: 345   +238

    Greed at it's finest.
    lazer and p51d007 like this.
  14. Nobina

    Nobina TS Evangelist Posts: 1,814   +1,329

    Apples products have become poor in quality, if they were ever good. So it's fitting for Apple to salt the wound by making 3rd party repairs kill your device.

    People don't know this but when you buy something from Apple and some of it's competitors you don't actually own the device, you rent it, sort of. So it's only fitting they tell you how to use it. I believe if you buy something it should be yours and you should be able to repair it and do whatever you want.
    BMAN61 and p51d007 like this.
  15. tuber

    tuber TS Rookie

    Apple is a trap company
    lazer, alabama man and p51d007 like this.
  16. EClyde

    EClyde TS Evangelist Posts: 1,720   +614

    This proves liberals want complete control of your life
    SpatulaCity likes this.
  17. penn919

    penn919 TS Maniac Posts: 249   +127

    Oh Jesus Christ, not here too...
  18. p51d007

    p51d007 TS Evangelist Posts: 1,864   +1,142

    Most people don't work on their own computers. Those that purchase Apple, typically aren't worried about things like that. Me on the other hand, well, you could call me a cheap skate, but, I value the money I have, and work darn hard to keep it. I repair my own stuff. I've been involved with electronics since the early 70's, have a degree in electronics. It's "old hat" for me to disassemble and repair MY devices that I purchase. Back in the days of cell phone contracts, I wouldn't touch one, until the contract was up. To me, that was an agreement. I purchase the device, at a reduced cost, for a period of X months. Once that was up, to me, the device is mine 100% free and clear. At that point, I could root, flash anything I want.
    Now, it appears, Apple, wants (under the guise of security) to have ALL repairs "in house". If this proceeds, you can bet your bottom dollar repair costs WILL increase, since they will have a monopoly on repair. Somehow, I get the feeling the government will step in, with an "owners repair bill or rights" or some such thing.
    If it is MINE and I OWN it, I should be able to pick & choose who I take it to be repaired (which would be me).
    Automobiles are quickly becoming this way as well, with so much of it controlled by software.
    BMAN61, ZackL04, darkzelda and 2 others like this.
  19. nismo91

    nismo91 TS Evangelist Posts: 984   +64

    Agreed. those who purchased macbooks are 99% not willing to work their own machines.

    regarding spare parts, it's common to find only the manufacturers sell the product, but I've never seen anything with exorbitant pricetag like apple.

    oh what a case of planned obsolescence... this is why I always got rid of my old notebooks. better to sell it cheaply at 10yr old than getting 0$ on the trash.
  20. Klust413

    Klust413 TS Rookie

    You should really look into Louis Rossman's videos on youtube. He's been able to consistently do motherboard level repair on Apple products for years. Just because you do not understand how someone could do it, it doesn't mean it's not possible. Good repair shops have the equipment and have gotten the knowledge to fix all sorts of issues with modern computers. It's really not as different from 10-20 years ago as you seem to think it is.
    mark kram and alabama man like this.
  21. Klust413

    Klust413 TS Rookie

    And yet the latest and greatest chips and parts are NOT coming to Apple products in acceptable formats. Take the latest iMac pro. The SSD is soldered to the board in such a way that if the computer fails, your professional workload is lost unless you have EVERYTHING backed up outside of your computer at all times. The mounting hardware (if you don't want to use the limiting stand provided) has to be bought separately from an Apple store, yet has cheap parts that fall apart the second you need to actually use them. The cooling is inefficient and won't allow you to get the full performance of the very expensive CPU installed.
    How about the new top of the line macbook pro? It shipped with bugs that severely limited the CPU speed and even after Apple "patched" the fix, the chip is still barely getting base clock speeds while running at high temperatures that will eventually warp parts around it and cause part failure.

    You can go on and on about how you've been a programmer for 20 years (in broken English I might add), but that doesn't mean you're not wrong.
    mark kram, ShObiT, Burty117 and 3 others like this.
  22. Evernessince

    Evernessince TS Evangelist Posts: 3,657   +2,976

    Apple isn't liberal, it's capitalist. Just like the vast majority of publicly traded companies, they exist to extract maximum value for their shareholders.
    Reachable likes this.
  23. Knot Schure

    Knot Schure TS Booster Posts: 189   +73

    I only buy large-screen latptops anyway... but the very fact that such a kill switch even exists at all barrs me from ANY Crapple purchase during this lifetime.
  24. RaXoR

    RaXoR TS Addict Posts: 135   +95

    Except there is no correlation between what Apple is doing and what liberals want. We want the right to repair our products how we see fit without a company telling us how much or what we can or can't do. On the other hand, this move is heavily influenced by capitalism. They want to control how and when you can use and repair the device you paid thousands for. Lock you into their ecosystem so you are forced to spend more on their products and "services" (not much of a service when their solution for everything is to swap the motherboard and you have to kiss your data goodbye).
  25. Agnomen

    Agnomen TS Enthusiast Posts: 18   +15

    The only legitimate use I could think of for a "kill switch" in an electronic device is if it is reported stolen. Other than that, this sounds like more anti-consumer nonsense that has been steadily eroding the industry for years.

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