Apple will make a USB-C gadget to get permission to send data on macOS 13

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Are you the kind of person who is hesitant to charge a gadget from a common charger – like the one that comes in your plane seat? Apple’s first beta of the recently announced macOS 13 Ventura includes features that appear to be designed to overcome fear. It will make USB-C and Thunderbolt accessories explicitly get permission before you can communicate with a MacBook powered by Apple’s M1 or M2 chip.

Here’s a full description of the features from Apple’s release notes:

On portable Mac computers running Apple silicon, the new USB and Thunderbolt accessories require user approval before the accessory can communicate with macOS for a direct cable connection to the USB-C port. This does not apply to power adapters, standalone displays, or connections to approved hubs. The device can still charge if you select Do not allow.

You can change your security configuration in System Settings> Security and Privacy> Security. The initial configuration is Ask for new accessories. Configuration Control Accessibility switch sets the policy to always allow the use of accessories. Approved devices can connect to a locked Mac for up to three days.

Accessories attached during software updates from previous versions of macOS are automatically approved. New accessories attached before rebooting the Mac may be enumerated and usable, but will not be remembered until connected to an unlocked and explicitly approved Mac.

I’ve read it through a few times now, and I don’t see an obvious downside. Your MacBooks will still charge, they will still connect to an external display, and you can turn them all off if you don’t want a bug. Apple isn’t trying to create new certifications here – you’re in control. It seems like just the extra protection of a potentially nefarious or non-compliant USB gadget, both real and least of which has damaged the MacBook in the past.

It may be a more realistic solution than the USB Implementation Forum launched in 2019 (pdf), which requires companies to use a “USB Type-C Authentication Program” that provides an encryption certificate for each USB device to verify its identity and confirm its capabilities.

Apple’s solution may not be to stop the “USB Killer” gadget, which tries to fry a computer by overloading the USB port with too much electricity. “Power mismatch” is one of the problems posed by the idea of ​​USB-IF.

Speaking of USB-C power, it’s officially set for a big boost: the first 240W USB-C PD cable recently closes the lid, and we’re waiting for a usable charger, laptop and external battery.

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