These days, any connected device with a microphone could arguably be treated with suspicion, from smart speakers to phones to computers. Apple helped to address privacy concerns in 2018 by adding a feature that disconnects MacBook microphones when the laptops' lids are closed. The documentation of the latest iPad Pro models (as spotted by 9to5Mac) shows that the company's new tablets sport a similar capability. When a user closes the cover of a compatible case, the iPad's security chip will cut the mic, which should help prevent snooping.
When the case's cover is closed, software can't access audio data, whether from a standard app or one with root privileges. This means that even if the iPad's firmware is affected by malware, a bad actor won't be able to listen in. For the feature to work, the user has to have a case that's MFI or "Made for iPad" compliant. Any current iPad cases designed by Apple will suffice, including the Smart Folio, Smart Keyboard Folio and the Magic Keyboard, which should be available in May. Certified third-party cases should work, too.
While iPads don't have as many security issues as Android tablets, they're still vulnerable to compromises. This new measure from Apple is a welcome one, but it would be nice to be able to access the option from the iPad's interface so that it could work for users who prefer not to use a case.