At the WWDC21 event, Apple announced a new iOS 15, iPadOS 15, macOS Monterey, and other software updates with loads of new features and exciting improvements. In addition, Apple also introduced new privacy features to not only strengthen users’ online privacy on mobile but also on the web. Therefore, to prevent users’ data from landing in the wrong hands, Apple offers a new iCloud Private Relay as part of the updated iCloud+ subscription.
iOS 15, Apple will upgrade all paid iCloud accounts to iCloud+ subscription which includes the newly introduced iCloud Private Relay feature for safer web browsing, along with other features like storage, sync. The new feature hides users’ IP addresses and shares approximate location, instead of the precise location. This capability offers a more safer and secure browsing experience which is more private than VPNs.
As explained in the report that although VPNs encrypt users’ online activity from ISP, the VPN providers know users’ IP addresses and their online activity. And this security patch is fixed by the new iCloud Private Relay. Apple’s Head of Software Craig Federighi spoke with Fast Company to share the new privacy feature’s design, scope, and purpose.
Apple Head of Software Craig Federighi talks about the new iCloud Private Relay and privacy
Calling the new browsing feature a “game-changer”, Fast Company asked Federighi about the significance of preserving users’ privacy, especially in the paradigm where “the incentives for ‘innovation’ in the exploitation world are high, and a lot of advancement in the art of tracking; a lot of advancement in the arts of security exploits.” He said:
Why did Apple develop this technology rather than build a more conventional VPN into its operating systems? “Core to the nature of the internet is that the IP address is traditionally exposed between the requester and the host – and that has some privacy knock-on effects that aren’t always understandable to users and certainly aren’t always desirable to users.
And so that’s a problem we wanted to solve,” says Federighi. He notes an unprotected IP has led to vectors for abuse by bad actors. “VPNs are a technology that has sought to provide some of those protections, but they do involve putting a lot of trust in a single centralized entity: the VPN provider. And that’s a lot of responsibility for that intermediary, and involves the user making a really difficult trust decision about exposing all of that information to a single entity.”
iOS 15 users will be able to enable the new feature in iCloud Settings and the setting will be automatically enabled on Mac, iPhone, or iPad when users will log in to their iCloud+ account. Having said that, iCloud Private Relay will only work in Safari.