Apple's latest MacBook Air and Mac mini each come with the company's new T2 security chip, which acts as a secure coprocessor that provides new encrypted storage and secure boot capabilities. However, this new chip is paving the way for current and future Apple products to be repaired exclusively by Apple itself.
Essentially, the T2 chip could stop your computer from functioning unless Apple's specific diagnostic software (Apple Service Toolkit 2 System Configuration Suite) validates the parts being replaced. And that software is only located in Apple stores and a small number of Authorized Apple Service Providers.
“This could be an attempt to grab more market share from the independent repair providers. Or it could be a threat to keep their authorized network in line. We just don’t know,” iFixit CEO Kyle Wiens said in an interview with The Verge.
According to an internal document from Apple obtained by MacRumors, the parts that the T2 chip currently affects are the MacBook Pro's Touch ID board, display assembly, logic board and top case as well as the iMac Pro's logic board and flash storage.
The document is from earlier in the year, so it has no mention of the latest MacBook Air or Mac mini, but since they both have the new chip we assume they're in a similar predicament. It states that "For Macs with the Apple T2 chip, the repair process is not complete for certain parts replacements until the AST 2 System Configuration suite has been run. Failure to perform this step will result in an inoperative system and an incomplete repair."
Despite that, the repair masters at iFixit bypassed diagnostics on a 13-inch MacBook Pro (2018) and successfully replaced the display and logic board. To be clear, iFixit is not an Apple Authorized Service Provider. Therefore, we can only assume that the diagnostics system isn't currently in effect, yet. So if you're looking to get your latest Mac repaired by a third-party store, you might want to do it as soon as possible.
In the company's blog post, iFixit calls out where you can learn about and fight for electronics right-to-repair laws, because no third-party business should have to lose money from a billion dollar company strong-arming consumers to get exclusive repairs.