Monday, Jul 25, 2022, 21:18 Mac: Software

Bluetooth: Apple Reactivates Service With Each Update Even If Previously Deactivated

The fewer weak points offered by a device, the harder it is for malicious parties to track or hack said device. For cases in which wireless networks are completely disabled, for example on a Mac, and ethernet is chosen as the primary networking method – the means of entry for the unsavorily intentioned are much more limited. These same standards apply to any software as well: Apps that constantly run as background processes on Mac despite not currently being used should be uninstalled – not only to maintain a better battery life, but also to reduce the number of possible attack vectors.

There are some users who don't use any Bluetooth devices whatsoever on their Mac, iPhone, or iPad. In all of these scenarios, it's advised to completely disable Bluetooth. There are two different ways to do so: The Control Center allows for easy activation and deactivation of both Bluetooth and Wi-Fi – however, Apple reactivates both if the device is restarted and automatically reactivates either or both services the next morning at 5 AM if no restart is performed before then. This is an intentionally programmed behavior, since the majority of users would otherwise forget to reactivate their wireless services and might then wonder why their device isn't functioning as desired – especially those less tech savvy. Additionally, users frequently turn Wi-Fi off when the iPhone or iPad keeps automatically connecting to a network which does not provide any access to the internet.

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The "Semi"-Permanent Option
Apple actually provides an option to "permanently" deactivate either Bluetooth or Wi-Fi in the Mac's System Preferences and in the iPhone/iPad's System Settings. However, as per Jeff Johnson from LapCatSoftware – the setting for Bluetooth doesn't remain permanent. Although Bluetooth won't reactivate after a restart when deactivated via the previously described method – it will do so after the application of any software updates to the device in question, even when disabled directly beforehand.

Apple – Intentional Behavior
Johnson relayed a bug report to Apple via the Feedback Assistant and received a response three months later. Per Johnson, Apple looked into the described behavior and determined that the setting is functioning exactly as intended – with no further information provided. Cupertino refrained from providing an explanation as to why it decided upon such a non-transparent behavior for the setting.

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