Ever notice how people stick a bit of tape over the webcam on their laptop? It’s a simple way to ensure no one can snoop on you without you knowing it. However, tape over the webcam won’t stop people from snooping on you with your computer’s microphone.
The 2020 iPad Pro solves this problem by disabling the microphone at a hardware level when you close the case. It’s a feature borrowed directly from Apple’s MacBook line, which disables the mic when users close the lid. That feature was introduced in 2018, and it’s one not many people know about.
Of course, the iPad Pro doesn’t have a lid like a MacBook. Instead, the iPad Pro activates the mic shut-off whenever users close the case. Unfortunately, the feature only works with Apple-certified ‘Made for iPad’ cases. That means it should work with Apple’s Smart Folio and Smart Keyboard Folio cases, as well as the upcoming Magic Keyboard due out later this year. The feature should also work with some third-party cases as long as they sport the certification.
9to5Mac spotted the feature in the latest version of Apple’s Platform Security guide. The guide highlights that the mic shut-off means that no software can utilize the microphone when the lid is closed, even if the OS is compromised.
Ultimately, it’s an excellent addition and one I wish more companies added to their products. Many PC makers have added physical webcam shutters to their laptops so customers don’t need to tape up their computers. It’d be nice if there was a physical disconnect for microphones as well.
As for the iPad Pro, I’d prefer if Apple had a disconnect method that didn’t rely on a case. Chances are most iPad owners will get a case anyway, but I’d rather see security features like that baked into the hardware and not dependent on accessories.