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Around September this year, Apple is upgrading all paid iCloud accounts to something it calls Cloud+. This new upgrade will include numerous exciting features over and above the existing iCloud storage, sync, and cloud features. But the most awaited feature is something that Apple calls iCloud Private Relay. This new feature offers additional security in the Safari web browser by encrypting web-browsing traffic and masking Internet Protocol (IP) addresses. This feature is supposed to be available to Mac, iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch users with iCloud+ subscription plans.
What is iCloud Private Relay?
Apple announced this new feature at the Apple World Wide Developers Conference (WWDC) Keynote 2021. iCloud Private Relay is a new feature that will prevent third-party companies from determining user’s web browsing behaviors. In addition, it promises to make the Safari browser more private once users upgrade to iOS 15, iPad OS 15, and Mac OS Monterey. Apple has claimed that this new feature will protect users’ privacy and will not interfere with their internet browsing speed.
We can easily Turn on and Turn off from WiFi Settings on iPhone, iPad, and Mac. and Also from Cellular Mobile Data settings on iPhone, iPad, and Mac. Also, Check out How to Enable/Disable Private Relay on iPhone, iPad, or Mac.
Private Relay Pros and Cons
The best reason to use Private Relay is that it protects users when they are browsing the web. Additionally, it also adds protection to the traffic generated by the apps that users use. This ensures that apps are not accidentally leaking user’s private information or exposing users to any security risks or cyber frauds.
But Private Relay has minimal usage. When they use a browser like Chrome, Google, or anything else, then ISP or any other agency will have perfect knowledge of everything they do. If a user has logged in to Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Amazon, these corporations will have complete first-party knowledge of what a user does on their properties.
To function as intended parental control apps, VPN, Proxy apps will not be affected by Private Relay.
If a user is not logged in, obscuring the IP address will affect their watch and browse history. Or, if someone is engaging in disturbing or abusive behavior, then using IP blocking may not be an effective way to prevent them from carrying out such behaviors.
Several users have installed the iOS 15, Mac OS 12, or iPad OS 15 developer betas installable on the iPhone and iPad, but when doing so and activating the Private Relay feature have faced a critical issue. Their internet speed slowed down a lot.
Limitations apply to using this feature. Due to regulatory limitations in some countries, Apple has informed that the feature will not be available in several countries. These countries include Belarus, China, Colombia, Egypt, Kazakhstan, South Africa, Saudi Arabia, Turkmenistan, the Philippines, and Uganda.
Pros vs. Cons
- Best users Privacy & Security Feature
- Easy to Disable and Enable for Specific network
- Similer Experience of VPN
- Available on iOS 15, iPadOS 15, MacOS Monterey or later macOS
- Best Browsing and Emails Protection.
- Included in iCloud+ Plan – Money Value
- Limited to Some Countries
- That creates a Negative Effect on advertising Business
- Several users Reported a Slow down in internet connectivity
- Unable to send Accurate location
- Consume more Data
How to use Private Relay?
Users can use this new feature on iOS 15, iPad OS 15, or Mac OS Monterey. The users should also be a subscriber to one of Apple iCloud plans. All paid iCloud plans comprising the $ 0.99 per month 50 GB plan are eligible, and so are the shared family iCloud plans as well as the ones purchased through a shared Apple One subscription.
Turning on Private Relay is relatively straightforward:
- On an iPhone or iPad, one needs to go to Settings > Apple ID > iCloud > Private Relay and then switch the “Private Relay” switch.
- On a Mac, one should visit Apple logo > System Preferences > Apple ID > iCloud and then check the box labelled “Private Relay”.
Since Private Relay is a new setting, users need to upgrade to iOS 15. They will find this new setting in the iCloud Settings menu. Any user who pays for any iCloud plan and has the iCloud+ service can turn on the switch to allow iCloud Private Relay. Users don’t need to install or configure. An Internet Protocol (IP) Address location setting lets users protect their estimated location or use a broader location. But most users can ignore that.
How does Private Relay work?
When the Private Relay feature is active, it will encrypt users browsing data and send it through two servers or relays.
The first private relay changes one’s IP address to a randomized one based on where the users live. This will conceal their identity from their Internet Service Provider (ISP) and anyone else.
After encrypting the user’s browsing data and scrambling their IP address in the first relay, the data is sent to a second relay, separate from the first one. Here the data is decrypted, which enables users to connect to a given website.
According to Tommy Pauly of Apple’s Internet Technologies group, servers can see a user’s IP address when they access a site. But using iCloud Private Relay fixes this by adding multiple secure proxies to help route user traffic and keep it private.
How is iCloud Private Relay different from a VPN?
A Virtual Private Network (VPN) user might assume that iCloud Private Relay will function as a VPN. However, the Private Relay feature is not comparable to a VPN. Even though Private Relay does a great job of preventing profiling of one’s web activity based on the primary data connection, it has several drawbacks compared to an actual VPN. Some of them include:
- iCloud Private Relay works only with Safari browsers. It does not work on any of the other apps or web browsers that a user might use. Even though some other Domain Name System (DNS) info and a small subset of app-related web traffic will use the Private Relay feature, it works best with Safari browser.
- It cannot conceal the region a user is connecting from. It can only hide users specific IP locations. So, users cannot access any content locked out from their region or use websites as if they are connecting from another region or country.
- Because it is easily identifiable as a proxy browser, large networks like those at schools, businesses or offices will not be good with it. VPN is a lot better in these cases as they can easily disguise themselves to look like regular non-proxy traffic.
iCloud Private Relay is excellent if a user wants to protect their privacy. If they want to stop websites from building their profile and selling it to advertisers and data brokers, then using Private Relay on iPhone, iPad, or Mac is a great option. It is fast, easy, and if a user is already paying for any iCloud storage amount, they will also get it free of cost.