Here’s another notch in Apple’s privacy belt. The just-released 2020 iPad Pro models feature a hardware disconnect for the microphone (see “Hell Freezes Over: Apple’s New iPad Pro Supports Trackpads,” 18 March 2020). Apple explains:
When an MFI compliant case (including those sold by Apple) is attached to the iPad and closed, the microphone is disconnected in hardware, preventing microphone audio data being made available to any software—even with root or kernel privileges in iPadOS or in case the firmware is compromised.
Apple’s wording—“iPad models beginning in 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 Mean for Mac Usage?,” 5 April 2019). Apple notes that this feature does not disconnect the camera because it’s obstructed when the lid is closed. Presumably, that’s the rationale for the iPad as well since the microphone disconnect requires a case.