What is Apple Private Relay and how to use it on iOS or Mac
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(Pocket-lint) – Apple’s iCloud + subscription service includes a VPN-like feature called Private Relay.
Here’s everything you need to know about it.
What is the private relay?
On any given day, you can use a variety of networks to browse the web, whether it’s the internet in your own home or public Wi-Fi when you’re on the go. Behind the scenes, network providers and websites can combine your identity and browsing history to create detailed profiles about you. To help protect your identity and privacy online (especially through the Safari browser), Apple offers Private Relay through iCloud +.
Private Relay allows you to browse Safari in a way Apple describes as “an even more secure and private way”. It ensures that traffic leaving your device is encrypted – so no one can intercept and read it – and it forwards all your requests through two separate internet relays. That’s pretty geeky, but the end result is that no one, including Apple, can see who you are or what sites you visit. It does this without affecting performance.
In other words, Private Relay is the virtual private network built into Safari.
The point is, Apple has been very careful not to call Private Relay a VPN. This is because it is not as feature rich as a typical VPN. For example, you cannot use Private Relay to geo jump and watch Netflix Canada in the United States. However, it can encrypt all of your connections, including all legacy connections that don’t use HTTPS, to hide your real IP address. It also prevents anyone, even Apple, from knowing who you are and where you log in on the web.
What can Private Relay do?
Private Relay allows you to choose the location of your IP address. You can choose your “general IP address” (so that websites can always provide you with location data), or you can choose an IP address somewhere in your country and time zone (for anonymity, but content in line less personalized). This means that Private Relays always uses your approximate existing geographic location, so you cannot use it for other VPN activities such as streaming Netflix content from another country.
However, Private Relay is actually more secure than a traditional VPN. Apple hides your identifying IP address information, then sends it to a second server to assign a temporary IP address, which means your information is hidden twice and neither Apple, the third-party relay company it uses, nor the website it uses. you visit cannot track you.
Are there any other limitations?
For starters, it won’t be available in some countries due to “regulatory limitations”. These countries include China, Belarus, Colombia, Egypt, Kazakhstan, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Turkmenistan and Uganda.
Plus, Private Relay only works with Safari, which makes it much more limited than other VPN services, as you can’t use it in any browser or app.
How to use private relay
You need an Apple device running iOS 15, iPadOS 15, or macOS Monterey. You must also subscribe to an iCloud plan. Once you have all of that, you can activate Private Relay.
iPhone or iPad
- Go to Settings> Apple ID> iCloud> Private Relay
- Activate private relay
- Go to System Preferences> Apple ID> iCloud
- Check the Private relay box.
Is the use of Private Relay free?
Private Relay is included as a free add-on for iCloud + subscribers.
What is Cloud +?
With iCloud +, you have access to basic diCloud features – such as Photos, Backup, and iCloud Drive – as well as premium features, such as Private Relay.
These features will be available to all iCloud subscribers, and all iCloud + plans can be shared with people in the same Family Sharing group. Apple also doesn’t change diCloud prices, which makes you wonder why the company came up with a new name “iCloud +” if it costs the same price that Cloud does and just adds new features for everyone.
You can learn more about iCloud + in our separate guide:
When will Private Relay be available?
Well, iCloud subscribers will be upgraded to iCloud + in the fall of 2021 when iOS 15, iPadOS 15, and macOS Monterey become available. When this happens, you can use Private Relay.
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Written by Maggie Tillman. Edited by Britta O’Boyle. Originally published on .