Apple diagnostics software blocks third-party repairs of 2018 MacBook Pro and iMac Pro

Posted:
in Current Mac Hardware edited October 5
In a move that essentially puts the kibosh on third-party repairs, Apple with its latest Macs has instituted a T2 security chip-related feature that disables a host machine unless specialized diagnostics software is used when replacing hardware.


Apple's T2 chip as seen in iMac Pro. | Source: iFixit


Detailed in an Apple document circulated to Authorized Service Providers last month, the modified repair procedure requires proprietary "system configuration" software to be run after certain hardware components are replaced. Called Apple Service Toolkit 2, the program works in conjunction with Apple's T2 security chip, present in the 2018 MacBook Pro and iMac Pro.

The suite includes the Mac Resource Inspector and tools that examine a variety of computer systems including memory, display, power adapters and cooling system, the publication said, citing the repair document. To ensure only authorized personnel are using the toolkit, Apple requires authenticated access to its Global Service Exchange (GSX) network.

"For Macs with the Apple T2 chip, the repair process is not complete for certain parts replacements until the AST 2 System Configuration suite has been run. Failure to perform this step will result in an inoperative system and an incomplete repair," the internal document reads, according to Motherboard.

The software is restricted to Apple Authorized Service Providers, meaning Apple has effectively blocked third-party or at-home repairs of major components. Not all hardware modifications are pursuant to the new policy, however.

According to the publication, repair facilities must use the software when replacing a MacBook Pro's display assembly, top case, logic board or Touch ID board. The same is required when swapping out an iMac Pro's logic board or flash storage, the latter being particularly problematic for users looking to expand onboard capacity.

Word of the new protocol is likely to renew suspicions of "planned obsolescence" strategies, as Apple, and only Apple, is in control of T2-bearing Macs repairs. The company can, for example, discontinue repair support eligibility for said machines when they reach end-of-life, thereby forcing customers to buy a new machine.

Apple's policy is also sure to stoke concern with advocates of so-called "right to repair" legislation being readied in a number of U.S. states. The laws seek to force tech companies like Apple to provide consumers and third-party repair outlets access to repair information, diagnostic equipment and parts.

Whether Apple can retroactively revoke AST 2 policies via a firmware update is unclear, but the operating restrictions hinge on the T2. Introduced with iMac Pro, the Apple-designed silicon integrates multiple system controllers, including those governing audio and SSD drives, as well as Mac's image signal processor onto a single chip.

As part of its mass storage management duties, the T2 encrypts and decrypts user data. Additionally, and germane to the AST 2 repair policy, the chip validates the entire boot process.

The repair document was first spotted by MacRumors. AppleInsider has confirmed the authenticity of the report.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 73
    At this point apple is just seeing how much sodomy the fan base is willing to take. In my circles developers and designers are abandoning the apple eco system in droves. Interestingly my non tech friends are lining up to have the prestige of paying a huge premium for the Apple Shiny.
    ednlviclauyycchiadigital_guymuthuk_vanalingamdigitollarz2112maciekskontaktSpamSandwichavon b7
  • Reply 2 of 73
    At this point apple is just seeing how much sodomy the fan base is willing to take. In my circles developers and designers are abandoning the apple eco system in droves. Interestingly my non tech friends are lining up to have the prestige of paying a huge premium for the Apple Shiny.

    Don't let the proverbial door hit you or your friends in the ass on the way out.
    flashfan207napoleon_phoneapartmac_dogracerhomie3chiarepressthissvanstromRayz2016revenantpalomine
  • Reply 3 of 73
    Wonder how long before a consumer lawsuit is filed?  Sounds monopolistic, especially after the warranty expires and now you are FORCED to pay Apple (and their prices) to repair your consumer device.
    kirkgrayednlolssvanstromlarz2112dysamoria
  • Reply 4 of 73
    The silver lining: This feature will come to the iPhone and iPad pretty soon and that will greatly reduce the demand for stolen iPhones as even the parts will no longer be usable. Probably a good thing but Apple will probably be forced to bless independent repair companies by state law in many places.
    svanstromjony0
  • Reply 5 of 73
    grifmxgrifmx Posts: 61member
    wow that sucks!
    ednlolsmuthuk_vanalingamlarz2112dysamoria
  • Reply 6 of 73
    The silver lining: This feature will come to the iPhone and iPad pretty soon and that will greatly reduce the demand for stolen iPhones as even the parts will no longer be usable. Probably a good thing but Apple will probably be forced to bless independent repair companies by state law in many places.

    Why don't these "independent" repair shops simply apply to become an Apple Authorized Service Provider? Surely being able to advertise you're authorized by Apple and only use official Apple components would be a big draw for customers.

    I'll tell you why they don't. Because Apple has minimum standards that must be met to qualify, and a LOT of these shops wouldn't meet those requirements. Plus you have to use Apple official parts (which Apple will sell to you). No more cheap knockoff clone parts that offer you huge margins/profit.

    I laugh when some whiny independent shop complains Apple won't provide them with official repair parts (like a TouchID home button), tools to do the work or repair procedures. Well, you know what? Apple DOES provide this to Authorized shops.

    rob53mac_dogkayessrepressthischasmsvanstromRayz2016palomineMacPromwhite
  • Reply 7 of 73
    CMH00CMH00 Posts: 1unconfirmed, member
    At this point apple is just seeing how much sodomy the fan base is willing to take. In my circles developers and designers are abandoning the apple eco system in droves. Interestingly my non tech friends are lining up to have the prestige of paying a huge premium for the Apple Shiny.
    Something tells me from your post history that you may be a shill for Microsoft, and that none of the hyperbolic word vomit above is even remotely accurate...
    sebnolan11napoleon_phoneapartmac_dogracerhomie3chiarepressthischasmsvanstrommacky the mackymwhite
  • Reply 8 of 73
    slurpyslurpy Posts: 5,033member
    At this point apple is just seeing how much sodomy the fan base is willing to take. In my circles developers and designers are abandoning the apple eco system in droves. Interestingly my non tech friends are lining up to have the prestige of paying a huge premium for the Apple Shiny.
    Yeah, I’d bet a dollar that you’re completely full of shit, as well as every single word of your post. 

    Pathetic troll. 
    dewmemac_dogRayz2016roundaboutnowwatto_cobrajony0
  • Reply 9 of 73
    At this point apple is just seeing how much sodomy the fan base is willing to take. In my circles developers and designers are abandoning the apple eco system in droves. Interestingly my non tech friends are lining up to have the prestige of paying a huge premium for the Apple Shiny.

    Don't let the proverbial door hit you or your friends in the ass on the way out.
    I checked his comment history and decided to pass on him.
    Rayz20161983watto_cobrajony0
  • Reply 10 of 73
    To be honest, there isn’t much left for self repair for MBP.


    pulseimages1983spheric
  • Reply 11 of 73
    At this point apple is just seeing how much sodomy the fan base is willing to take. In my circles developers and designers are abandoning the apple eco system in droves. Interestingly my non tech friends are lining up to have the prestige of paying a huge premium for the Apple Shiny.
    It is not that. It is just that they need to make sure the security system that they put in place, is not bypassed or broken.
    artharg1983watto_cobra
  • Reply 12 of 73
    The silver lining: This feature will come to the iPhone and iPad pretty soon and that will greatly reduce the demand for stolen iPhones as even the parts will no longer be usable. Probably a good thing but Apple will probably be forced to bless independent repair companies by state law in many places.

    Why don't these "independent" repair shops simply apply to become an Apple Authorized Service Provider? Surely being able to advertise you're authorized by Apple and only use official Apple components would be a big draw for customers.

    I'll tell you why they don't. Because Apple has minimum standards that must be met to qualify, and a LOT of these shops wouldn't meet those requirements. Plus you have to use Apple official parts (which Apple will sell to you). No more cheap knockoff clone parts that offer you huge margins/profit.

    I laugh when some whiny independent shop complains Apple won't provide them with official repair parts (like a TouchID home button), tools to do the work or repair procedures. Well, you know what? Apple DOES provide this to Authorized shops.

    I’m not sure where to start with this ignorant post. Take a look at Louis Rossmann and iPad rehabs YouTube channels. Not all unofficial repair channels are created equal. We regularly get machines in from 2011 that are perfectly adequate for the customers that use them. They might only need a new screen or battery  however as they have been classified as vintage Apple won’t repair them. Now, with these new machines you will be forced to buy a new MacBook because your Mac needs a new battery. And you think this is a good thing? Want to fit an original but refurbished screen to your MacBook? Nope, not allowed to do that.

    You know why we don’t want to become authorised? Because then we’d have to do the same repairs as Apple, at the same pice. We’d no longer be able to save customers over 50% of Apples prices. We also wouldn’t be able to repair your iPhones motherboard and recover the data. We would no longer be able to save customers money by replacing just the keyboard instead of the whole top case assembly. 

    Let me me tell you a little story from a recent customer. Liquid damaged MacBook, Apple quoted £1200 and told her that her data was gone. We repaired it for £120 and recovered all her data. 

    Reputable repair shops like ours offer a quality alternative when Apple are too expensive or just downright won’t help. Deliberately hampering our ability to help customers is not in the interest of the consumer or Apple, because while many will shrug their shoulders and give Apple more money, many can’t or won’t which will mean, as is the case of the iPhone Apple will continue to raise its price to compensate for lower sales. 
    vonbrickolsigohmmmchiakayessrcfamuthuk_vanalingam1983palominespheric
  • Reply 13 of 73
    dewmedewme Posts: 1,678member
    No surprises here. To ensure the integrity of certain components/subsystems it is important that the tools used to service these components have intimate knowledge and capabilities that ensure the integrity of the systems is not compromised when repairs are made. As long as Apple provides a legitimate way for service providers to gain access to the required tools I see no problem with this approach. These are nontrivial components with specific system-level configuration and commissioning requirements, not something that can be fixed with a screwdriver and a soldering gun. Conflating this into a "planned obsolescence" conspiracy theory demonstrates a complete lack of understanding for how complex integrated systems like iPhones/iPads operate. Replacing an iPhone's logic board is not like replacing a fan belt on your car. It's more like replacing the engine control computer (ECC), flashing the firmware that runs in the ECC, and running system verification tests to ensure everything is working as planned. Do you think your favorite auto maker is going to give you the firmware, flash tools, and system verification tools to do this in your own garage? No. 

    There will always need to be a balance between "right to repair" expectations between consumers and makers. For example, I could argue that Apple should provide me with the software design documents and source code for macOS so I can troubleshoot and fix a software bug that is plaguing me on my iMac. Hey, why not? 
    racerhomie360sguysvanstromwatto_cobra
  • Reply 14 of 73
    roakeroake Posts: 597member
    At this point apple is just seeing how much sodomy the fan base is willing to take. In my circles developers and designers are abandoning the apple eco system in droves. Interestingly my non tech friends are lining up to have the prestige of paying a huge premium for the Apple Shiny.
    Leaving in droves...

    Is that why Apple is trading above 1.1 trillion dollars?

    Maybe you and your friends aren't the ones driving the ecosystem.
    watto_cobrajony0
  • Reply 15 of 73
    canukstormcanukstorm Posts: 1,543member
    At this point apple is just seeing how much sodomy the fan base is willing to take. In my circles developers and designers are abandoning the apple eco system in droves. Interestingly my non tech friends are lining up to have the prestige of paying a huge premium for the Apple Shiny.
    "Interestingly my non tech friends are lining up to have the prestige of paying a huge premium for the Apple Shiny."

    Apple's forte has always been making technology more personal.  It's no surprise that their iOS-based devices are by far their most popular.
    watto_cobrajony0
  • Reply 16 of 73
    dewmedewme Posts: 1,678member
    The silver lining: This feature will come to the iPhone and iPad pretty soon and that will greatly reduce the demand for stolen iPhones as even the parts will no longer be usable. Probably a good thing but Apple will probably be forced to bless independent repair companies by state law in many places.

    Why don't these "independent" repair shops simply apply to become an Apple Authorized Service Provider? Surely being able to advertise you're authorized by Apple and only use official Apple components would be a big draw for customers.

    I'll tell you why they don't. Because Apple has minimum standards that must be met to qualify, and a LOT of these shops wouldn't meet those requirements. Plus you have to use Apple official parts (which Apple will sell to you). No more cheap knockoff clone parts that offer you huge margins/profit.

    I laugh when some whiny independent shop complains Apple won't provide them with official repair parts (like a TouchID home button), tools to do the work or repair procedures. Well, you know what? Apple DOES provide this to Authorized shops.

    I’m not sure where to start with this ignorant post. Take a look at Louis Rossmann and iPad rehabs YouTube channels. Not all unofficial repair channels are created equal. We regularly get machines in from 2011 that are perfectly adequate for the customers that use them. They might only need a new screen or battery  however as they have been classified as vintage Apple won’t repair them. Now, with these new machines you will be forced to buy a new MacBook because your Mac needs a new battery. And you think this is a good thing? Want to fit an original but refurbished screen to your MacBook? Nope, not allowed to do that.

    You know why we don’t want to become authorised? Because then we’d have to do the same repairs as Apple, at the same pice. We’d no longer be able to save customers over 50% of Apples prices. We also wouldn’t be able to repair your iPhones motherboard and recover the data. We would no longer be able to save customers money by replacing just the keyboard instead of the whole top case assembly. 

    Let me me tell you a little story from a recent customer. Liquid damaged MacBook, Apple quoted £1200 and told her that her data was gone. We repaired it for £120 and recovered all her data. 

    Reputable repair shops like ours offer a quality alternative when Apple are too expensive or just downright won’t help. Deliberately hampering our ability to help customers is not in the interest of the consumer or Apple, because while many will shrug their shoulders and give Apple more money, many can’t or won’t which will mean, as is the case of the iPhone Apple will continue to raise its price to compensate for lower sales. 
    I appreciate your perspective and understand that you are providing a service that many folks appreciate. However, if things are truly as bad as you claim, i.e., "you will be forced to buy a new MacBook because your Mac needs a new battery" and "[Apple] Deliberately hampering our ability to help customers" then people would be abandoning their Apple products in droves and never making another Apple purchase. I just don't buy the argument that all of Apple's customers are blind sheep, stupid, or uncontrollably captivated by shiny new toys. Trillion dollar companies just can't happen under those assumptions. Stupidity doesn't scale.

    Apple has a huge business to run. Apple has a network of authorized service channels that help preserve their reputation, maintain customer loyalty, and sustain a business that's been growing undiminished for more than two decades. No matter where you stand on Apple, you have to admit that they are doing something right. Part of their success is maintaining total control - from hardware to software to services. That's their gig. Most of their customers like this model - tremendously.

    Is there still a place for people to profit outside of Apple's direct purview?  Sure, but it is going to be one-sided, opportunistic, and totally decoupled from Apple. Apple needs total control of their business. If Apple can't control it then it doesn't make any business sense for them to risk their 1 trillion dollar business and millions of stakeholders who survive through the Apple ecosystem. The risk vs reward doesn't make sense at a macro level even though at the micro level some people do feel legitimate pain, both consumers and the opportunistic repair service providers who are doing a bang-up job at what they do. However, if the tables were turned you would not hand over any more control of your own business and livelihood, and that of your millions of stakeholders, than what Apple is willing to do. This is their gig, win or lose, so they get to call their shots.
    edited October 5 racerhomie3watto_cobra
  • Reply 17 of 73
    mac_dogmac_dog Posts: 580member
    At this point apple is just seeing how much sodomy the fan base is willing to take. In my circles developers and designers are abandoning the apple eco system in droves. Interestingly my non tech friends are lining up to have the prestige of paying a huge premium for the Apple Shiny.
    I smell a troll. 
    dysamoriawatto_cobra
  • Reply 18 of 73
    rob53rob53 Posts: 1,912member
    I welcome this because it shows the T2 chip actually does what it says it does, protects the security and integrity of the product it's protecting. AppleCare isn't that expensive when you factor in the cost of one repair. As for those shops saying they want to save people money, I doubt it. I have to wonder where they're getting their parts and how qualified they actually are. Macs aren't typical PCs and shouldn't be repaired the same way. Take your Mac to an authorized repair shop and get it fixed the right way. 
    racerhomie360sguysvanstromwatto_cobrajony0
  • Reply 19 of 73
    The silver lining: This feature will come to the iPhone and iPad pretty soon and that will greatly reduce the demand for stolen iPhones as even the parts will no longer be usable. Probably a good thing but Apple will probably be forced to bless independent repair companies by state law in many places.

    Why don't these "independent" repair shops simply apply to become an Apple Authorized Service Provider? Surely being able to advertise you're authorized by Apple and only use official Apple components would be a big draw for customers.

    I'll tell you why they don't. Because Apple has minimum standards that must be met to qualify, and a LOT of these shops wouldn't meet those requirements. Plus you have to use Apple official parts (which Apple will sell to you). No more cheap knockoff clone parts that offer you huge margins/profit.

    I laugh when some whiny independent shop complains Apple won't provide them with official repair parts (like a TouchID home button), tools to do the work or repair procedures. Well, you know what? Apple DOES provide this to Authorized shops.

    I’m not sure where to start with this ignorant post. Take a look at Louis Rossmann and iPad rehabs YouTube channels. Not all unofficial repair channels are created equal. We regularly get machines in from 2011 that are perfectly adequate for the customers that use them. They might only need a new screen or battery  however as they have been classified as vintage Apple won’t repair them. Now, with these new machines you will be forced to buy a new MacBook because your Mac needs a new battery. And you think this is a good thing? Want to fit an original but refurbished screen to your MacBook? Nope, not allowed to do that.

    You know why we don’t want to become authorised? Because then we’d have to do the same repairs as Apple, at the same pice. We’d no longer be able to save customers over 50% of Apples prices. We also wouldn’t be able to repair your iPhones motherboard and recover the data. We would no longer be able to save customers money by replacing just the keyboard instead of the whole top case assembly. 

    Let me me tell you a little story from a recent customer. Liquid damaged MacBook, Apple quoted £1200 and told her that her data was gone. We repaired it for £120 and recovered all her data. 

    Reputable repair shops like ours offer a quality alternative when Apple are too expensive or just downright won’t help. Deliberately hampering our ability to help customers is not in the interest of the consumer or Apple, because while many will shrug their shoulders and give Apple more money, many can’t or won’t which will mean, as is the case of the iPhone Apple will continue to raise its price to compensate for lower sales. 

    Cry me a river. I’m curious, do you think you should be able to buy parts from Apple and have access to their procedures? This is what right-to-repair advocates think they should get.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 20 of 73
    rcfarcfa Posts: 713member
    This is ridiculous, Apple undermines ownership of a device.

    Further, I don’t buy the security argument: few people carry nuclear secrets around in their machines, and with FileVault on, a criminal would still need to first get physical access to the machine, AND be savvy enough to decrypt an encrypted file system. 

    Apple is also refusing to service a system with a non-Apple battery. So you replace a laptop battery, and then later on you need service; Apple won’t provide service, because it’s a third party battery, and a third party can’t provide service, because they don’t have the software.
    So in short, you may have to toss an expensive machine if you realize this after the fact, and if you’re aware of it, you’ forced to buy Apple’s totally overpriced batteries, just to prevent the risk of having later an unserviceable machine.

    The argument, that this isn’t an issue, as otherwise people would leave the Apple platform, is a stupid one: most people toss a broken machine, because either the computer is old, and they figure before they waste money on (Apple’s expensive) repairs, they use that money to make the down payment on a newer, faster one, or the machine lasts without repair until people replace them.

    the fact that Apple builds high-quality machines, which for most people work without breaking until they are replaced for new computers, doesn’t contradict the fact that Apple’s repairs are overpriced and that their repair policies suck big time, if you’re in a position where you need to get an older machine repaired.

    case in point: got an 2012 MBA 11”. The original batter got bloated, which I noted when a few days before a trip I couldn’t close the lid properly anymore.
    I’d had to send in the computer to get it serviced in Ireland (not sure how safe it would be to have the machine transported in that state!), and it wouldn’t have been back in time for the trip. Shipping aside, Apple’s repair was way expensive.
    For less than $50 I got a battery over the internet, put it in myself, and it lasts to this day.
    One thing the bloated battery did, was introduce some contact problem, somewhere: if a TB cable is plugged in, the machine works great, if not, it crashes within minutes.
    So after I got a new MBP and didn’t rely on the MBA for my daily work, I wanted Apple to fix the issue their bloated battery caused.
    Not only would they not repair the damage for free, they wouldn’t even to the $500+ repair to swap the motherboard because I have “a dangerous non-Apple battery installed” (the Apple original was dangerous and almost blew up, not this one!)
    Fast forward to an independent repair shop: they quoted my about $70 to fix the contact issue, if they can find it, and about $200 to replace the motherboard with refurb one from a computer with a damaged display.
    So third party repair gets me in total for under $250 fixed what Apple’s bad battery destroyed, and for which Apple would have charged around $700+

    <sarcasm>But, yeah, having to throw out repairable machines to stuff Apple’s coffres is awesome, because Apple can do no evil, and everyone who criticizes Apple is automatically a troll...<\sarcasm>
    muthuk_vanalingam1983avon b7dysamoria
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