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back to article Snap suggests Apple out to 'screw' hardware hackers

Apple is designing its own, entirely proprietary screw-head in a bid to prevent punters and repair shops getting inside its future iDevices. At least, it is if - and it's a very big 'if' - you take a piccy posted on the interweb at face value. Captioned "a friend took a photo a while ago at that fruit company, they are …

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Anonymous Coward

Applpe Control freakery....

... at its best!

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Looks Familiar...

I suspect Apple will shortly be hearing from Darth Vader's lawyers

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Re: Looks Familiar...

I was just thinking exaxctly the same thing.....Lucasfilm may come a knockin'

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Re: Looks Familiar...

Reminds me of the loading screen from System Shock 2

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Coat

Re: Applpe(sic) Control freakery....

O M G !

If there's anything at all real about it, then the world as we know it will come to an end in a short time:

United States Patent application # 159357789123

Apple, Inc. 1,Infinite Loop, Cupertino, California

A device for the reversible connection of otherwise separate parts of various appliances or their subcomponents comprising of a cylindrical, spirally structured body with a wider, likewise cylindrical but perpendicularly embossed appendage of lesser length on one end.

We're iScrew® ed.

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Thread?

That doesn't actually look like a thread.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Thread?

Completely agree I'm shocked clearly obvious crap posted on Reddit makes it through to supposedly news sites.

Even unscrewmaster and anti-pentalobe campaigner Wiens from iFixit says this is very implausible.

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Re: Thread?

If you're a person who spends all his time creating facetious crap about Apple, then you probably think that's as good a shape as any for a screw thread. Never mind that 200+ years of industrial technology has other ideas - this is Apple and they redefine everything.

Plus, this thread has rounded corners :o)

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Thread?

"That doesn't actually look like a thread." I thought that, but my conclusion was that, because the head is so tiny and doesn't look very grippy, they've had to design the thread with the intention of smooth (low pressure) turning and possible use of lube.

I wonder if whoever had this plan has heard of moulds.

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No way this is real..

That thread cannot be made with the traditional manufacturing methods (OK, AFAIK, but even the body and thread colours differ which suggests it's made up).

In addition, if this is at the size the normal Apple screws are the tooling would be a complete pain in production - there is nothing to centre the screw (no tapering or lead-in at the end of the thread nor any guide for the drive toolis), which would would make a mess in the sort of mass production volume Apple works at.

In addition, a drive tool with such small detail would have issues with material strength.

So, IMHO much ado about a fake..

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Pint

@ Fred Flintstone - Re: No way this is real..

Well . . .

The iScrew®'s body will be made from anodized aluminium, and the thread is made from pre-formed austenitic stainless steel, laser-welded onto the body afterwards. The head of the screw looks different from the main body due to high-vacuum electrostatic powder coating with titanium-embedded diamond dust. This is to ensure not only a precise fit and enhanced torque distribution for the iScrew® driver, it also fits in better with the sophistication of the whole device.

Centering of the screw is a secondary, if at all, problem, since the screw will be fitted into the device by Mr. On Lo Wage at Foxconn; if he doesn't cope with the precision, there's plenty of others queueing up to do his job.

And the additional price of an extra $80 (€85, £120) for the use of these screws will be eagerly paid by the customers; it again shows that the product they purchased is of a better quality and they can distinguish themselves from the ordinary phone user and from the old-fashioned iPhone4S users who don't have the new iScrew®.

There, all explained.

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Re: @ Fred Flintstone - No way this is real..

If the intent was to discourage hackers, this looks like a marginally practical fastener that will be easily mold-mastered into a substitute screw-head. Hackers are notoriously good at this.

The screws DO look expensive-to-make, which can cause quality issues when the cost-press comes by.

It looks like a less-than-50%-likely rumor...

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Happy

@ Beachrider - Re: @ Fred Flintstone - No way this is real..

>

...

when the cost-press comes by.

...

<

Cost-press? At Apple?

Hahaha.

- - -

No.

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Anonymous Coward

Can't possibly be true!

That would mean Apple were innovating.

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Anonymous Coward

No problem

Looks like a flat blade will undo it anyway.

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Re: No problem

Yes, a set of small tough flat screwdrivers will undo most 'security' screws I have encountered.

And it would be easy enough to 3D-scan the screw head, invert it and fab the needed driver-head in any modestly equipped modern university materials-engineering lab or equivalent private factory with a small 3D printer capable of printing metals (they have more than one of those in the building across the road from me).

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Anonymous Coward

Re: No problem

@AC Thats pretty much what I thought

@LaeMing I've also had some success pressing Blu-Tac into a screw head to get a good impression, then gently baking it in the oven. Have to make sure you mould it to fit another screwdriver first though.

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Re: No problem

That plus how long would it really take for someone to cast a mold off of it to start cranking out screwdrivers?

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Assuming it's genuine:

Yeah, that'll stop those places that knock out $2 security-bit packs in their tracks. For about a week. And anyone who wants to "DIY" anyway would just drill into the screw with a screw-removing drill. Hell, there'll be packets of those things on eBay before the device is even released do you could just drill them out and then reinsert new ones. And, let's not forget, you have to send multiple sets of those screwdrivers to EVERY APPLE STORE in the WORLD. Yeah. Not one of those will go missing, or get cloned.

And even if not - let's assume that people *can't* take their iPhone to one of those "screen repair" places that have cropped up everywhere. You just quadrupled the running cost of an iPhone over its lifetime. I'm not saying that would kill the device, but it will surely affect sales. Hmm, an iPhone that I can have repaired for £200, or an Android phone that's about the same that I can have repaired for £20? Anyone who's broken their phone in the past will realise that it's actually just not worth the cost. Anyone who hasn't might get it repaired once but when it breaks again they will question a) Apple's sturdiness, b) Apple's repair costs.

But still, the BMW crowd will love it. It means another trip to the manufacturers any time ANYTHING goes wrong, or voiding their warranty entirely.

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Anonymous Coward

Agree with everything you said, but you get a downvote for dissing my choice of car and implying I'm something I'm not.

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Last time I watched someone repairing a BMW, the OBD flashed up that it had detected an unofficial tyre. To clear it, they had to buy a specific BMW -> OBD convertor cable that cost more than the tyre, or pay a garage the same amount (who said that the high price was justified by the price of the BMW kit needed to do the job).

It's probably *not* all models and their drivers, just all the models and their drivers I've ever come across and heard repair horror stories from.

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Anonymous Coward

What a load of shite.

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unofficial tyre

what a load of arse. You can put any tyre you want on your beemer (or any other car for that matter)

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Coat

Re: unofficial tyre

No. But not for the reason given above. The tyre must be of a category that can handle the top speed of your car, and in the lower part of Germany, in winter, must be a snow tyre

</pedantic>

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@lee dowling

agree with everything you said except the first, middle and last bit, they were nonsense

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@ Lee Dowling

Unofficial tyre, I call bollocks... next you'll be claiming you saw them refill the washer fluid with tap water, and the OBD flashed up saying "NEIN, NON-MINERAL WASSER ALERT!!"

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Anonymous Coward

Re: @ Lee Dowling

I call BS. And a downvote for alleging I would deign myself near a Beemer.

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Unofficial tyre?

I'd wager it was the wheel and they had to reprogram the TPMS. Then again, all new cars have this and not just BMWs, in the US at least. That said, it really is a bug up my backside that the equipment to reprogram the car to a new sensor is so expensive. The only good thing is I don't figure it will be long before the codes are cracked for most cars and some open source kit starts popping up. It really is something that shouldn't be much harder than setting the presets on the radio since it really is just setting the presets on the TPMS radio. While they are at it, put a "yes, I know" button that lets you turn off the light when you start the car after changing the flat.

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Headmaster

Re: unofficial tyre

BMW uses runflat tyres. This is a special kind of tyre that can run even when punctured, due to stronger sidewalls.

On the plus side, runflats are safer. And there is no need to carry a spare.

On the minus side, they are harder and heavier, not to mention more expensive. Non-sprung weight of a vehicle is very important, because it directly affects the handling and the "feel" of the car. And a hard tyre makes suspension harder, so you need to design better suspension.

Using runflat tyres also requires the car to be able "read" the pressure and warn the driver if needed - it is not visually apparent like regular tyres.

Other manufacturers also use these, but I can't make a list offhand. Anyway, there isn't an "official" tyre for BMW, but there is a special kind you have to use.

On a related note, Porsche does have official tyres - of I should say special Porsche versions of some tyres you have to use not to void your warranty.

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wow that will work. its not like the chinese factory we make the devices in is next door to "mr wongs happy screwdriver concern" or anything...

lets spend $xxx to shaft our customers into buying another knock off screwdriver. Genius!

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WTF?

If this aint fake, then why didn't they invent a screwhead in the shape of their very own apple logo? Or even better, they should have invented the turtle-necked screw!

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Actually that's a very good point, at least an apple logo shaped head would be really hard to undo with a flathead screwdriver, unlike this one...

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Joke

LMAO if they did do that, Microsoft might have the bright idea of making a custom screw for the xbox - in the shape of an X - and not release their balls-up until after the press releases and patent applications have been sent out!

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FAIL

realise not release lol

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Given the state of the patent app process I'm sure they would be awarded it.

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Anonymous Coward

Apple-logo shaped screw-head

That's actually an excellent idea - any screwdriver that fitted would therefore necessarily violate Apple trademarks, and thus sales of third-party screwdrivers could be prevented (in official channels, at least)...

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Re: Apple-logo shaped screw-head

...unless said 3rd party screwdriver-makers only used a partial impression.

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Ford produced an 8 point star screew

A Canadian Robertson (square) screwdriver fit perfectly.

Security screws are only useful to keep Joe Blow from messing with stuff. I bought a high quality set of screw driver bits for every version I have ever seen and some that I have not (three sided with a pin in the middle?) for $15 at the local tool shop.

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Headmaster

X shape

An X shape does not necessarily have to be the shape of a +

^ note that the angles on a typed X (Times New Roman) are greater on the sides than the top and bottom....

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Anonymous Coward

Re: X shape

Um yes, but a flathead will still work.

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Coat

another good point....

another good point to having the apple logo design as the screw head would be trademark infringement of anyone making and selling screwdrivers for them....

hmmm, i wonder if i can patent the use of trademark designs as screw head patterns...

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FAIL

Does it matter?

Yes it frickin well does matter when Apple have shitty warranties and refuse to repair devices for realistic prices. (no, I'm not paying even more for AppleCare, I paid a premium for the device, I EXPECT it to be built well)

My iPhone 4 home button gradually died (common problem), after 20 months into a 2 year contract, Apple didn't want to know and wanted to charge me £130 for a replacement refurb'd iPhone. Only alternative was a back-street fixit guy who replaced it for £17 and it's worked ever since.

My iMac's Seagate hard drive died after a similar amount of time, do Apple care? Noooo, Apple want £200+ to put in a new 1TB drive. That's a 300% mark up on the price of 1TB 3.5" internal SATA drives. Because they changed the firmware on the drive it's hard to do independently without incurring the case fans spinning up.

So YES, it does matter. Enough of this proprietary bullshit. Someone lend me a Galaxy S3 please, cos iPhone 5 is looking less likely by the day, it wouldn't take much to convince me...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Does it matter?

You fail. Anyway, for £61 quid to cover your iPhone for an extra 2 years, you'd have covered your repair cost double. Don't complain when you take risks.

You don't buy premium and then expect the premium to fix it for nothing? Try asking Ferrari to fix your engine for nothing that's worn away outside the warranty. They'll just scream with laughter at you. You probably deserve it as well as your face after that rant is probably red raw with your head about to explode. :)

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Re: Does it matter?

If you buy premium you expect a two year standard EU warranty.

And if Apple try to screw you over you take them to small claims, you win, and they pay you extra costs for wasting your time and the court's.

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FAIL

Re: Does it matter?

"You fail. Anyway, for £61 quid to cover your iPhone for an extra 2 years, you'd have covered your repair cost double. Don't complain when you take risks."

Hmmm...

£130 to replace an iPhone without AppleCare ... or ...

£61 for AppleCare ... or ...

£17 to the back-street guy to fix it.

Unless my understanding of mathematics is somewhat out of kilter, £17 is considerably less than £61! Now who's failed?!

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FAIL

Re: Does it matter?

> You don't buy premium and then expect the premium to fix it for nothing?

No, you buy premium and expect it to last longer without repair than non-premium.

You don't expect Ferrari to weld the bonnet shut so that you can't take it to your local mechanic. You don't expect them to make a proprietary lock for the oil and radiator caps so you can't change the oil or top it up yourself.

I'm sure the new iphone and imacs are great, but Apple are making it all too hard. I loved Apple ][, Mackintosh, OSX and Mac. They've done a good job of bringing "pretty" and "useful" to the consumer, but the rest of the world has caught up and they are resorting to making life difficult rather than making life better, to keep their income up.

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Re: Does it matter?

@P.Lee - "No, you buy premium and expect it to last longer without repair than non-premium."

This holds true if the premium being paid is for quality/durability. I don't think that is where the premium goes on Apple products. Instead it goes on design, marketing (selling you a lifestyle) and being a status symbol. It's the same reason (say) Gucci sunglasses cost way more than most other brands, despite the fact they do they exact same job and the other brands may be more durable/better made.

And it's the exact same with Ferrari - if you want durability, buy a Ford, Honda or Toyota. If you want a status symbol, buy the Ferrari.

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Re: Does it matter?

"No, you buy premium and expect it to last longer without repair than non-premium."

Because, of course, Apple have access to Foxconn's magical, revolutionary new Zero Failures factory in Narnia.

I think you'll find that the equally expensive rival phones from, say, Samsung ("We let someone else do the R&D, so we don't have to") and their ilk are just as prone to the occasional failure.

As another poster pointed out, if your iPhone was bought in the EU, your warranty lasts 24 months. By law. There is no get-out clause Apple can use to get around that. (And, yes, that law applies in the UK as well, despite what many of the more ignorant, minimum-wage shelf-stackers at PC World may believe.)

But... you got it fixed for £17! Clearly the iPhone isn't all that hard to fix for someone with the right tools and knowledge! So what the hell is your problem? Who the hell takes their car to an expensive "official" repair centre (that is obliged to only ever use original parts!) when it's outside the warranty period? Even VW owners know better than that.

One very good reason for using weird screws and tricky manufacturing techniques is precisely so that they don't get loads of ignorant tinkerers trying to convince them their phone "just broke! Honest!" after they'd tried to pry it open and have a look inside for the sake of satiating their curiosity.

People who want to make money from repairing such products can still buy the necessary tools—as others have pointed out, it's not going to take long for a Chinese manufacturer to come up with a screwdriver head that matches this, or any other, design. Such people will likely include the chap who fixed your iPhone for less than twenty quid.

Short of completely sealing each unit and making it effectively disposable, there's not much Apple can do to prevent such repair operations. And I doubt very much that they want to go down that path as they have to abide by WEEE regulations, so repairing and recycling their products is part of their corporate duty.

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Joke

"£17 is considerably less than £61"

You're just jealous because he can afford a genuine Apple repair while you have to make do with a cheap one that isn't half so stylish and was only copying Apple anyway.

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Re: Does it matter? @ TheOtherHobbes

Aha, now I don't know about this two-year EU warranty business, whether it's percolated over to blighty yet, where we almost always have far longer and more powerful implied protection from the Sale of Goods Act, than anything written down on a 'warranty' agreement. Written warranties are gratuitous promises, for a far shorter period than you're entitled legally (and *enforceably*) to have the product last, and tend to be used by retailers as 'exclusion' clauses, i.e. "your warranty's run out, we can't help you...". The law says they, the retailer, very, very often must pay up for repair, replacement, or part-refund.

SOGA forms an unavoidable implicit clause in your contract, that your goods must be of reasonable durability considering all factors including the cost. You may not be entitled to the remedy of your choice (e.g. repair or replacement) but often a refund less a deduction for usage based on the reasonable expected lifetime of the product bearing in mind its cost. Top-end Apple laptop? 4 or 5 years, easy.

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