With macOS 12.3 Beta 1, Apple re-introduced support for Universal Control for both Macs and iPads. However, with this re-introduction, we can see Universal Control seems to have gone through some overhauling likely explaining the delayed rollout.
New macOS Blacklists
Shortly after installing macOS 12.3 Beta 1 on my iMac15,1, I noticed that the Universal Control settings reappeared in Display Settings:
This was a bit strange as previously Apple had blocked this model from working. After a bit of digging, I found the resurrected Universal Control.app in
After throwing it in the disassembler, I found that the blacklist was completely rewritten. The same logic of not supporting H.264 Macs was used, but now only limited to models natively running Monterey:
// iMac16,1 iMac16,2 // iPad5,1 iPad5,2 iPad5,3 iPad5,4 iPad6,11 iPad6,12 // MacBookAir7,1 MacBookAir7,2 // MacBookPro11,4 MacBookPro11,5 MacBookPro12,1 // Macmini7,1 MacPro6,1 0x69, 0x4D, 0x61, 0x63, 0x31, 0x36, 0x2C, 0x31, 0x00, 0x69, 0x4D, 0x61, 0x63, 0x31, 0x36, 0x2C, 0x32, 0x00, 0x69, 0x50, 0x61, 0x64, 0x35, 0x2C, 0x31, 0x00, 0x69, 0x50, 0x61, 0x64, 0x35, 0x2C, 0x32, 0x00, 0x69, 0x50, 0x61, 0x64, 0x35, 0x2C, 0x33, 0x00, 0x69, 0x50, 0x61, 0x64, 0x35, 0x2C, 0x34, 0x00, 0x69, 0x50, 0x61, 0x64, 0x36, 0x2C, 0x31, 0x31, 0x00, 0x69, 0x50, 0x61, 0x64, 0x36, 0x2C, 0x31, 0x32, 0x00, 0x4D, 0x61, 0x63, 0x42, 0x6F, 0x6F, 0x6B, 0x41, 0x69, 0x72, 0x37, 0x2C, 0x31, 0x00, 0x4D, 0x61, 0x63, 0x42, 0x6F, 0x6F, 0x6B, 0x41, 0x69, 0x72, 0x37, 0x2C, 0x32, 0x00, 0x4D, 0x61, 0x63, 0x42, 0x6F, 0x6F, 0x6B, 0x50, 0x72, 0x6F, 0x31, 0x31, 0x2C, 0x34, 0x00, 0x4D, 0x61, 0x63, 0x42, 0x6F, 0x6F, 0x6B, 0x50, 0x72, 0x6F, 0x31, 0x31, 0x2C, 0x35, 0x00, 0x4D, 0x61, 0x63, 0x42, 0x6F, 0x6F, 0x6B, 0x50, 0x72, 0x6F, 0x31, 0x32, 0x2C, 0x31, 0x00, 0x4D, 0x61, 0x63, 0x6D, 0x69, 0x6E, 0x69, 0x37, 0x2C, 0x31, 0x00, 0x4D, 0x61, 0x63, 0x50, 0x72, 0x6F, 0x36, 0x2C, 0x31
Note that this exact blacklist is also found under
/System/Library/PrivateFrameworks/UniversalControl.framework, however, cached within the dyld itself. For FeatureUnlock, dyld patching is already supported.
I was curious if Apple had added additional checks in iPadOS, so I downloaded an iOS 15.4 Beta 1 IPSW from Apple and extracted the dyld (using the dsc_extractor):
mv iPadPro_12.9_15.4_19E5209h_Restore.ipsw iPadPro_12.9_15.4_19E5209h_Restore.zip unzip iPadPro_12.9_15.4_19E5209h_Restore.ipsw # look for 5GB~ disk image hdiutil attach ./018-95413-019.dmg ./dsc_extractor /Volumes/SkyEchoSeed19E5209h.J98aJ99aDeveloperOS/System/Library/Caches/com.apple.dyld/dyld_shared_cache_arm64 ./dyld_dump_folder
From here, I delved into
./dyld_dump_folder/System/Library/PrivateFrameworks/UniversalControl.framework/UniversalControl and threw it in Hopper. Here we can see that Apple unfortunately still blocks older iPad models within iPadOS as well as the Mac models:
|Model Blacklists||Model Detection|
Updating FeatureUnlock was fairly straightforward, however, I hit one of the stranger issues with Universal Control.app pathing. Apparently, due to localization, a space is added in the app name but is not in the path itself:
After this mini headache, FeatureUnlock was updated to work with these unsupported models:
Universal Control patching has been implemented with ab01a91 and will be released next month as part of v1.0.6.
Cross Model Checking
After a few reports of issues with FeatureUnlock, I soon realized that every single device in the chain will check each other before patching. This means that while we have Universal Control enabled locally, our broadcasted model is rejected:
This was the console log from a MacBookPro18,3 trying to connect with a MacBookPro11,4 model (MacBookPro9,2 spoofed to 11,4 via OC in reality).
With this unfortunate discovery, we’re left at an unfortunate situation:
- Patch on every single machine by running FeatureUnlock
- Spoof the model to another
Both of these solutions are not ideal, but the former is extra difficult as it removes support for Apple Silicon Macs and iPads. So you can only use Intel Macs running with FeatureUnlock.
While I cannot comment on the experience of Universal Control on older iPad models, usage on older Macs has been great as reported by our users. With Apple implements blacklists for incoming model, it really feels as though they’re trying to lock features as much as possible from users. However in reality, the actual reason is simply an oversight that benefits them. I will say it’s still quite disappointing there are no user overridable settings via
default write, as this could at least create an unsupported but native work-around for users.