One of the more exciting new features available on iOS 15, iPadOS 15, and macOS Monterey is iCloud Plus, Apple’s enhanced iCloud subscription service that adds some key privacy features. One of the key features is Private Relay, a VPN -like service designed to shut off internet traffic on your device from anyone trying to spy.
Here’s how to use it:
To get started, you must be using iOS 15, iPadOS 15, or macOS Monterey and be a customer of one of Apple’s iCloud plans. All paid iCloud plans – including the $ 0.99 -per -month 50 GB plan – are eligible, as are shared family iCloud plans or those purchased through a shared Apple One subscription.
Turning on the Personal Relay is very easy.
- On an iPhone or iPad, go to Settings> Apple ID> iCloud> Personal Relay and then switch on the “Personal Relay” switch
- On a Mac, go to System Options> Apple ID> iCloud, and check the box labeled “Private Relay”
Unlike most VPNs, Private Relay offers only one configurable option: the ability to select the location of your IP address. Apple gives you two options here: you can use your “public IP address” so the website can still give you approximate location data, or you can choose a broader IP address somewhere in your country and time zone (which offers anonymity the greater the more accurate the online content).
But, in particular, Private Relay only lets you navigate the web through an available (rough) geographic location, so you can’t use it for more popular VPN activities – like streaming Netflix content from different countries or ignoring local sports deletion rules.
Apple says Private Relay is actually more secure than traditional VPNs, noting that traffic is disguised twice. When you navigate to a URL in Safari, it’s first sent to Apple, which removes your identifying IP address information, and then sends it to a second server – run by an unknown third party – to assign a new, temporary IP address. The result is that neither Apple, a third -party relay company, nor a website can track you.
There are some limitations to Private Relay. To begin with, this will not be available in a number of countries: China, Belarus, Colombia, Egypt, Kazakhstan, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Turkmenistan, Uganda, and the Philippines. Apple told Reuters this is due to regulatory limitations in those countries.
Also, Private Relay only works with Safari – not other browsers or web applications – making it a much more limited option than other VPN services, especially when combined with the fact that it can’t be used to circumvent geographic location limits.
But since Private Relay is included as a free add-on for iCloud customers, that’s a nice addition, especially if you’re the type of user who is more interested in the privacy benefits of a VPN for regular web browsing than a more case-specific VPN use. Safari’s limitations alone can help encourage users to use Apple’s browser over competitors like Chrome or Firefox as well.