updated 10:50 am EDT, Thu October 23, 2008
MacBook spill detection
Apple may be looking to thwart people who ask for warranty service on water-damaged computers, the Los Angeles Times suggests. The newspaper reports that Apple's new MacBooks and MacBook Pros contain Liquid Submersion Indicators, which detect whether fluids have made it past the surface of a system. A similar sensor can be found within the iPhone's headset port, as well as in other cellphones, but the MacBooks are said to be the first complete line of notebooks to utilize the technology.
The MacBook sensors are located underneath the keyboard and trackpad, meaning that only a technician or a skilled hobbyist can find them. Apple Store technicians are said to be using them to decide whether or not damage violates AppleCare warranties, which do not cover water damage; manuals for MacBooks explicitly warn people to keep computers dry and avoid "rain, snow and fog."
A potential concern is that LSIs can sometimes be tripped through small incidents, which may cause minor damage but nevertheless invalidate a warranty. A number of third-party repair shops are allegedly forgiving of these cases, however, and will regularly choose to do warranty repair. In the case of the new MacBooks, an anonymous technician suggests that the policy should continue, unless parts have to be sent back to Apple.