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Apple's Lightning authentication chip may have been reverse engineered

post #1 of 55
Thread Starter 
An unauthorized accessory maker has promised that products cloning Apple's new Lightning cable are on their way, thanks to reverse engineering.



New Lightning cables and accessories from iPhone5Mod, including a light-up cable and docking station, were highlighted on Tuesday by MIC Gadget. The unauthorized reseller claims that its new cable "fully supports iTunes, Data Sync, Battery Charging for iPhone 5 and even supports all future iOS upgrades."

The site even has a video promoting its new light-up cable and docking station, showing them being used to charge and sync an iPhone 5 plugged into a MacBook.

AppleInsider was first to report last month that presumed authentication chips were found inside of Apple's new Lightning connector. The discovery of the chips was seen as a warning to customers not to buy unauthorized third-party accessories, as they were not likely to be compatible with the iPhone 5 and other Lightning devices.

In fact, Chinese suppliers were said to be still working on cloning the chips found in Apple's Lightning cable, but it wasn't expected that compatible unauthorized devices would become available for sale for months at the earliest.

Lightning


However, the video and information posted online on Tuesday suggests that at least one company was able to reverse engineer Apple's new Lightning cable faster than was expected.

Some unauthorized third-party Lightning devices quickly appeared on sites like Amazon and resellers like Alibaba.com after the iPhone 5 and Lightning connector were announced. But estimated shipping dates were progressively pushed back s companies were not able to create their own knock-off Lightning accessories.

Official Lightning accessories sanctioned by Apple are expected to hit store shelves this holiday season. Devices have been delayed from hitting the market because Apple is said to have made "significant changes" to its "Made for iPhone" accessory rules.

The new Lightning cable is 80 percent smaller than its predecessor, allowing Apple to make its devices even smaller than ever. It also dynamically reassigns its pins to allow the cable to be inserted into devices like the iPhone 5 in either of two orientations.
post #2 of 55

Surely Apple would seek an import ban on such products.

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post #3 of 55
ILounge has already received their Lightning to 30-pin adapter and verified its functionality ...

http://www.ilounge.com/index.php/reviews/entry/apple-lightning-to-30-pin-adapter/

Now somebody TEAR THIS THING DOWN ALREADY!!!!
Edited by Mac_128 - 10/9/12 at 5:20pm
post #4 of 55
Interesting, however I have to wonder if Apple doesn't have it's own interest in seeing the clones succeed. It just doesn't seem like Apple was or is being extremely protective of the technology. At least they haven't said anything publiclly about patents or taking an agressive stance against cable makers.
post #5 of 55
In other words, several companies announced a product without knowing they can actually make one? I don't think there is a point in accepting any announcement without independent verification of functionality.
post #6 of 55
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mac_128 View Post

ILounge has already received theirs and verified its functionality ...

You mean they have received the Apple adapter, not the reverse engineered chip (this article).

post #7 of 55

Surely everyone knows that the connector would be replicated sometime soon... it's not like making a key to the White House you know!

post #8 of 55

The only problem I have is that some freetard will think a $3 chinese-knockoff Lightning adapter will function exactly the same as the Apple-stamped version, then proceed to fry their iDevice, then casually take their iDevice back to Apple, play stupid (they're naturally that way anyways) and say "I dunno, I just plugged it in and it caught fire!  WTF Apple"!!!!

 

So what will we once again hear from the whiners?

Damn Apple!!! Your adapters are gouging customers!!!

Damn Apple!!  Your expensive iDevice won't work with my $3 accessory that was deliberately "cracked" so I can save a few bucks!!  Damn you Apple!!

Not one sliver of a second will be allocated by the user to ponder the thought: "Hmm... perhaps I was stupid for going the cheap route and blaming Apple?"

Not one second...  watch...

post #9 of 55

Good for them!  Screw Apple and their overpriced cables.  They're overpriced almost as bad as the Monster cables. 

post #10 of 55

Could be a publicity stunt. Perhaps they started out with a real Apple cable which means the chip is real.

 

They get some news hits while in reality they are still trying to crack the code.

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post #11 of 55

presumed authentication chips"

 

Presumed with evidence?

 

Lightning NEEDS a chip to function since it actively re-routes signals and power as needed. It’s a long-term, flexible, modern solution.

 

But I have seen ZERO evidence that there is some kind of additional “authentication” or anti-cloning going on. The very existence of a chip is NOT evidence since we already know a chip is needed no matter what.

 

Subtract what seem to be entirely made-up claims and it looks like Apple simply has new rules for the “Made for iPhone” logo program. NOT that they have added “authentication” hardware to make companies join that program. Have I missed any evidence? Let me know and I’ll reverse my statements if so!

 

And if I’m right, then third-pery products (both with and without Apple's official stamp of approval) were only a matter of time, same as they always have been.

post #12 of 55
That cable probably sucks half the current from USB just to light up the stupid cable itself. We need less gadgets that put out annoying/useless lights that serve no purpose other than show its ghetto aesthetics. I'm all for third party accessories, but not too fond of cheap junk.
post #13 of 55
Quote:
Originally Posted by sflocal View Post

The only problem I have is that some freetard will think a $3 chinese-knockoff Lightning adapter will function exactly the same as the Apple-stamped version, then proceed to fry their iDevice, then casually take their iDevice back to Apple, play stupid (they're naturally that way anyways) and say "I dunno, I just plugged it in and it caught fire!  WTF Apple"!!!!

 

So what will we once again hear from the whiners?

Damn Apple!!! Your adapters are gouging customers!!!

Damn Apple!!  Your expensive iDevice won't work with my $3 accessory that was deliberately "cracked" so I can save a few bucks!!  Damn you Apple!!

Not one sliver of a second will be allocated by the user to ponder the thought: "Hmm... perhaps I was stupid for going the cheap route and blaming Apple?"

Not one second...  watch...


You are aware that the Apple-stamped cables are $3 cables made in China? 

post #14 of 55
Quote:
Originally Posted by sflocal View Post

So what will we once again hear from the whiners?

Damn Apple!!! Your adapters are gouging customers!!!

Damn Apple!!  Your expensive iDevice won't work with my $3 accessory that was deliberately "cracked" so I can save a few bucks!!  Damn you Apple!!

Not one sliver of a second will be allocated by the user to ponder the thought: "Hmm... perhaps I was stupid for going the cheap route and blaming Apple?"

Not one second...  watch...

8 minutes.

post #15 of 55

In other articles reporting this story it's also mentioned that the Chinese vendor had been using "official" authentication chips from the same supplier Apple is using. Frankly I thought that a bit surprising,

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post #16 of 55
This article says they are "presumed authentication chips." As I understand it, the lightening connector dynamically reassigns the cable pins according to the orientation of the cable. Could this chip be for the reassignment of pins and not authentication?
post #17 of 55
Originally Posted by Freshmaker View Post
Good for them!  Screw Apple and their overpriced cables.  They're overpriced almost as bad as the Monster cables. 

 

Right, the overpriced cables that… can't be bought from anyone else.

 

"Screw Apple and their overpriced computers! I'll just go buy something running OS X from some… other… manu…"

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post #18 of 55
The chip is not for authentication as far as anyone knows. It is for reassigning pins based on how the cable is plugged in and what is on the other side.

There is a lot of engineering behind this, so that we can have such a nice small connector, make it reversible, make it so that it doesn't lose functionality when compared to the 30 pin monster, make it future proof, and the phones can use the saved space for things like a bigger battery. This amount of effort on something most companies don't even think about is what makes Apple products special.

But still, this article calls it an "authentication" chip.
post #19 of 55
Quote:
Originally Posted by wizard69 View Post

Interesting, however I have to wonder if Apple doesn't have it's own interest in seeing the clones succeed. It just doesn't seem like Apple was or is being extremely protective of the technology. At least they haven't said anything publiclly about patents or taking an agressive stance against cable makers.

 

Protective? Of a cable? Apple is not Monster Cable.

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post #20 of 55
Quote:
Originally Posted by SpamSandwich View Post

Surely Apple would seek an import ban on such products.

If they created something and violated some patents, they might ask for some royalties.  I don't know if they would ban this product.  It's kind of cool.  Maybe if you ask nicely maybe Apple stores would sell them in their own stores if the company was doing so under proper authority.  Apple does stock and sell third party cables, you know.

post #21 of 55
There's too little information here to express an educated position. If Apple used even the most rudimentary encryption, then DMCA would prevent sale of this chip in the US.

As to those whining about Apple making money on their products, it's a free market. Go buy Android crap if you want to. Maybe if you had ever created anything of value in your life you might respect the wish of an inventor to profit from his invention.
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post #22 of 55
Quote:
Originally Posted by SpamSandwich View Post

Surely Apple would seek an import ban on such products.

 

There's plenty of cheap unlicensed 30-pin dock cables and such available from Amazon. Look for the 1- and 2-star reviews.

"Apple should pull the plug on the iPhone."

John C. Dvorak, 2007
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post #23 of 55
Quote:
Originally Posted by drblank View Post

If they created something and violated some patents, they might ask for some royalties.  I don't know if they would ban this product.  It's kind of cool.  Maybe if you ask nicely maybe Apple stores would sell them in their own stores if the company was doing so under proper authority.  Apple does stock and sell third party cables, you know.

 

Apple would not seek royalties. They (rightly) would seek a legal ban on infringing products.

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post #24 of 55
Quote:
Originally Posted by sflocal View Post

The only problem I have is that some freetard will think a $3 chinese-knockoff Lightning adapter will function exactly the same as the Apple-stamped version, then proceed to fry their iDevice, then casually take their iDevice back to Apple, play stupid (they're naturally that way anyways) and say "I dunno, I just plugged it in and it caught fire!  WTF Apple"!!!!

 

So what will we once again hear from the whiners?

Damn Apple!!! Your adapters are gouging customers!!!

Damn Apple!!  Your expensive iDevice won't work with my $3 accessory that was deliberately "cracked" so I can save a few bucks!!  Damn you Apple!!

Not one sliver of a second will be allocated by the user to ponder the thought: "Hmm... perhaps I was stupid for going the cheap route and blaming Apple?"

Not one second...  watch...

 

Also, no mention on any site (including this one) that this is actually 100% illegal.  

 

Tech sites all over the web are talking about this and not a one of them has bothered to even mention the fact that this is against the law and basically constitutes a theft of Apple's IP.  Not. One. Mention.  

 

People talk about whether the cables will work, or whether they will hurt your device, they talk about the cleverness of those that are doing the stealing etc. but not one mention of the fact that they are breaking the law to do so. 

post #25 of 55
Quote:
Originally Posted by rickwil61 View Post

This article says they are "presumed authentication chips." As I understand it, the lightening connector dynamically reassigns the cable pins according to the orientation of the cable. Could this chip be for the reassignment of pins and not authentication?

 


Quote:
Originally Posted by kirsch View Post

The chip is not for authentication as far as anyone knows. It is for reassigning pins based on how the cable is plugged in and what is on the other side.

There is a lot of engineering behind this, so that we can have such a nice small connector, make it reversible, make it so that it doesn't lose functionality when compared to the 30 pin monster, make it future proof, and the phones can use the saved space for things like a bigger battery. This amount of effort on something most companies don't even think about is what makes Apple products special.

But still, this article calls it an "authentication" chip.
 
Exactly. The term is pure anti-Apple link bait—and/or the fear of third party accessory makers who didn’t really know and simply assumed the worst.
 
There have been very similar “authentication chip” pseudo-scandals with past Apple devices, and those stories withered away. Not sure why this story has legs! I could have overlooked some real evidence but I don’t think so. Maybe it’s all the “rage” people have over Apple not turning a 10-year-old connector into a 20-year-old connector. :p
post #26 of 55
Originally Posted by Gazoobee View Post

Tech sites all over the web are talking about this and not a one of them has bothered to even mention the fact that this is against the law and basically constitutes a theft of Apple's IP.  Not. One. Mention.  

 

Well, you can't steal IP from Apple. Apple can only steal IP from others.

 

Or so They say.

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post #27 of 55

According to one of the apparent sources for the AI article, they spoke with the vendor,  iPhone5mod, "who informed us that they are currently using original Lightning controller chips from Apple's supplier, ensuring proper functionality. The chips serve to assist with dynamic assignment of pin functionalities in the connector and converting signals received through the connector for output at the other end of the cable. 


iPhone5mod did, however, inform us that they have also obtained cracked chips that bypass Apple's authentication functions and that the cracked chips are working just as well as the original chips, suggesting that we may soon see a significant increase in unauthorized third-party Lightning accessories. "

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post #28 of 55
Why do people keep talking about the dynamic pin reassignment as if it was something magical? It really isn't, I was doing diode logic gates like those when I was a kid, it's literally child's play, you probe the flow of current with two diodes (let us assume that pins #1 and #8 are the power pins, so plugging the device the other way around will simply swap them) and enable / disable circuitry in accordance to which diode is letting power through. For instance, an OR diode gate (containing 4 diodes) is what is used to implement full AC/DC rectifiers found in most power supply units.

There's nothing innovative about the Lightning Connector; what makes things expensive is the DRM which is NOT done with YOUR interests in mind.
post #29 of 55
Originally Posted by Vaelian View Post
There's nothing innovative about the Lightning Connector…

 

You just keep digging yourself deeper in there, don't you?

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post #30 of 55
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by Vaelian View Post

There's nothing innovative about the Lightning Connector…

You just keep digging yourself deeper in there, don't you?

No, it's just your lack of understanding of technology. If you think this plug is innovative design because it can connect both ways, then I wonder what your thoughts about the TRS* plugs (which are round and have been around since like forever) are. I assume that would be GROUNDBREAKING TECHNOLOGY to you, yet every piece of equipment uses TRS sockets for headphone jacks...
post #31 of 55
Originally Posted by Vaelian View Post
No, it's just your lack of understanding of technology. If you think this plug is innovative design because it can connect both ways, then I wonder what your thoughts about the TRS* plugs (which are round and have been around since like forever) are. I assume that would be GROUNDBREAKING TECHNOLOGY to you, yet every piece of equipment uses TRS sockets for headphone jacks...

 

I guess it's fortunate that I don't think it's innovative for that reason, eh? Otherwise you wouldn't have just wasted your time there.

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post #32 of 55
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

"Screw Apple and their overpriced computers! I'll just go buy something running OS X from some… other… manu…"

 

I wish.  Maybe another manufacturer would see a market for a big, powerful portable.  Asus does.  Unfortunately their machines don't seem to run OSX for some reason...

post #33 of 55
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gazoobee View Post

Also, no mention on any site (including this one) that this is actually 100% illegal.  

Tech sites all over the web are talking about this and not a one of them has bothered to even mention the fact that this is against the law and basically constitutes a theft of Apple's IP.  Not. One. Mention.  

People talk about whether the cables will work, or whether they will hurt your device, they talk about the cleverness of those that are doing the stealing etc. but not one mention of the fact that they are breaking the law to do so. 

That's not entirely clear.

If Apple has patented the technology, infringing is illegal.
If Apple has encrypted the chip, then decrypting it is probably illegal under DMCA.
If Apple has an exclusive agreement with the chip manufacturer and they sold chips to a third party, then Apple can sue them for breaking the agreement.

But we don't know if any of those applies. Reverse engineering is not, per se, illegal.
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post #34 of 55

I plug my phones in to charge as I sleep, the last thing I need is constantly flashing lights in my bedroom.

 

The plugs are butt ugly as well, there are smaller thumb drives than that USB plug, wtf is in there?

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post #35 of 55

What took them so long? Has DVD Jon retired?

post #36 of 55
Quote:
Originally Posted by jragosta View Post

As to those whining about Apple making money on their products, it's a free market. Go buy Android crap if you want to. Maybe if you had ever created anything of value in your life you might respect the wish of an inventor to profit from his invention.

 

If your invention requires you dick over consumers, it probably doesn't have much inherent value.

post #37 of 55
Quote:
Originally Posted by Vaelian View Post

Why do people keep talking about the dynamic pin reassignment as if it was something magical? It really isn't, I was doing diode logic gates like those when I was a kid, it's literally child's play, you probe the flow of current with two diodes (let us assume that pins #1 and #8 are the power pins, so plugging the device the other way around will simply swap them) and enable / disable circuitry in accordance to which diode is letting power through. For instance, an OR diode gate (containing 4 diodes) is what is used to implement full AC/DC rectifiers found in most power supply units.
There's nothing innovative about the Lightning Connector; what makes things expensive is the DRM which is NOT done with YOUR interests in mind.

Where’s the evidence that this DRM exists?

 

It may—but I’m wondering if people just assume that and invent a “fact," or if there is real evidence.

 

The entire Lightning story has been one of people “knowing” all kinds of things out of thin air.

post #38 of 55
Quote:
Originally Posted by Freshmaker View Post

Good for them!  Screw Apple and their overpriced cables.  They're overpriced almost as bad as the Monster cables. 

No! So apple doesn't have the right to control the quality of their products and accessories, including third party accessories that are riding on Apple's back? You sound like a freetard, so why don't you just give it a rest and go buy an android device, try the Samsung Galaxy S III, but don't drop it! ( Android Authority iPhone drop test - http://www.androidauthority.com/iphone-5-vs-samsung-galaxy-s3-drop-test-116898/ )

post #39 of 55
Is AI calling this an authentication chip to get more page hits from trolls?

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post #40 of 55

I don't like the Apple tax we have to pay for their cables, but I'm not about to save $10 and fry my $850 iP5 either.  That said, when real alternatives become available that are priced appropriately I will look at them.  BUT, given that Apple is demanding that the products be made in their certified factories I don't expect we will see anything lower than a few dollars to start with not for at least or year or more.  Apple has to milk that cow for all its worth.

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