M3 Macs can detect liquid in USB-C ports, but only for diagnostics
Apple released a slew of new Mac computers last week, and they bring a hidden new feature: the ability to detect liquids in their USB-C ports. The capabilities were first spotted by 9to5 Mac, who earlier reported that macOS Sonoma now includes a system daemon called “liquiddetectiond.” The daemon identifies when a Mac has been exposed to liquids through sensors within the computer. However, this identifier can now detect liquid in the USB-C ports of a Mac as well. This change might be limited to newer M3 Macs, as there could be some hardware requirement that enables liquid detection in a Mac’s USB-C ports.
These sensors could be used for a consumer-facing feature that lets users know when their USB-C ports are wet. Water in electronics is never good, but water paired with an electrical current does a lot more damage. As such, if a user’s Mac can let them know when their USB-C ports are wet, it can prevent them from plugging things in and causing more problems. The tool isn’t being used this way for now, though. Instead, the liquid detection on Mac USB-C ports will be used as a diagnostic tool. This could end up actually being bad news for consumers.
Liquid detection has been used by Apple for years as a way to deny repairs under warranty. “Damage to Mac computers and accessories due to liquid exposure is not covered by the Apple One (1) Year Limited Warranty or the AppleCare Protection Plan,” an Apple Support document notes. Apple is using liquid contact indicators to figure out whether a Mac has been exposed to water. These are essentially stickers that change color when they come in contact with liquids. This is notably different than liquid detection on Mac USB-C ports, which use electronic sensors.
Apple has used liquid detection features before
Though the feature is not available to users yet, the functionality resembles an iOS and iPadOS feature. Both iPhones and iPads not only detect liquids in their charging ports, but also inform users. These devices throw up warnings when liquid is detected so users can unplug their chargers. This implementation is far more useful than the one on the Mac, which is just for diagnostics.
The new feature means that users should be more careful with liquids around their Macs than ever. Apple now has a new way to determine whether a Mac has been exposed to liquid. That means if someone brings a liquid-damaged Mac in for repair, it’s likely they will have to pay a big out-of-warranty repair fee.
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