2020 iPad models have a hardware microphone disconnect

Here’s another notch in Apple’s privacy belt. Just-released 2020 iPad Pro models feature a hardware disconnect for the microphone (see “Hell Freezes Over: Apple’s New iPad Pro Supports Trackpads,” March 18, 2020). Apple explains:

When an MFI-compliant case (including those sold by Apple) is attached to the iPad and closed, the microphone is physically disconnected, preventing audio data from the microphone from being made available to any software, even with the privileges root or kernel in iPadOS or in case the firmware is compromised.

Apple’s wording – “iPad models from 2020” – suggests that future iPads will also have this feature, which has existed for some time in Apple laptops equipped with the T2 security chip (see “What does the T2 chip for Mac use?,” April 5, 2019). Apple notes that this feature does not disconnect the camera as it is obstructed when the lid is closed. Presumably this is also the rationale from the iPad since disconnecting the microphone requires a case.

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