Apple's Lightning authentication chip may have been reverse engineered

Posted:
in iPhone edited January 2014
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.
«13

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 55
    SpamSandwichSpamSandwich Posts: 33,407member


    Surely Apple would seek an import ban on such products.

  • Reply 2 of 55
    mac_128mac_128 Posts: 3,454member
    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!!!!
  • Reply 3 of 55
    wizard69wizard69 Posts: 13,377member
    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.
  • Reply 4 of 55
    jeffdmjeffdm Posts: 12,951member
    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.
  • Reply 5 of 55
    chris_cachris_ca Posts: 2,543member

    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).

  • Reply 6 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!

  • Reply 7 of 55
    sflocalsflocal Posts: 6,094member


    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...

  • Reply 8 of 55


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

  • Reply 9 of 55
    mstonemstone Posts: 11,510member


    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.

  • Reply 10 of 55
    nagrommenagromme Posts: 2,834member


    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.

  • Reply 11 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.
  • Reply 12 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? 

  • Reply 13 of 55
    chris_cachris_ca Posts: 2,543member

    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.

  • Reply 14 of 55
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 24,213member


    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,

  • Reply 15 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?
  • Reply 16 of 55
    tallest skiltallest skil Posts: 43,388member


    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…"

  • Reply 17 of 55
    kirschkirsch Posts: 11member
    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.
  • Reply 18 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.

  • Reply 19 of 55
    drblankdrblank Posts: 3,385member

    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.

  • Reply 20 of 55
    jragostajragosta Posts: 10,473member
    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.
Sign In or Register to comment.