With iOS 15, Apple has enabled various privacy features, including a VPN-like private relay connection. Called iCloud Private Relay, it’s both similar and distinct from a VPN connection in multiple ways. If you’re confused about what the heck it even means, here’s everything you should know.
What Is Private Relay?
Apple’s iCloud Private Relay basically hides your IP address from the websites you visit. When you use Private Relay to browse the internet via Safari, the feature encrypts your data through relay channels so your ISP cannot see any of your browsing requests. Apple’s system also makes sure that no one party has both your IP address and your browsing data, so that no one can track your activity to you.
How this works is: Once you enable Private Relay, your IP address goes to the first relay. Relay 1 turns it into a “geohash” representing the location you’re browsing from, and hides your exact IP address. According to the settings you choose, your geohash or your country and time zone will then be sent to the second relay to connect you to different websites.
So, once you enable iCloud Private Relay, Apple can see your IP address but not what you browse, while the sites you’re visiting and the trusted partners only know the websites you’re visiting and not your IP address. And that’s how your identity is anonymous to all involved parties.
Pretty neat, huh?
iCloud Private Replay vs. VPN
Though Apple’s iCloud Private Relay is pretty cool, it does have certain shortcomings compared to a third-party VPN. For one, while iCloud Private Relay is enough to protect web activities for most users, it only works with Safari. As for VPNs, they usually work with all apps and web browsers.
Private Relay also does not hide the broader country or region you’re connected from, so you can’t access content that isn’t available in your region with Private Relay. On the other hand, VPN can clone your device in another area altogether. Still, the latest iCloud feature from Apple is a great solution for protecting your identity and is available for anyone with a paid iCloud subscription.
How Do I Set It Up?
So, if you’re now convinced of the utility of this feature, you might be wondering how exactly you can set it up. Don’t worry, we’ll guide you through it. Just follow the steps below:
- Launch Settings on your iPhone or iPad.
- Tap on your name to access Apple ID and iCloud.
- Tap iCloud > Private Relay (Beta).
- Swipe the toggle switch to Green to turn on Private Relay.
- Under the IP Address Location menu, choose between Maintain General Location or Use Country and Time Zone according to your preferences.
Remember, Apple’s iCloud Private Relay is only available for paid subscribers. With an iCloud+ plan, you can use Apple’s latest privacy features like the one outlined in this very article and Hide My Email. Got any questions? Feel free to drop them below!