Apple Has A Kinda-Free VPN Now

Apple Has A Kinda-Free VPN Now
Image: Rick & morty

Apple announced a heap of new privacy features today, including Private Relay, which is basically a VPN.

What is Private Relay?

Private Relay is built into iCloud, allowing Safari users to encrypt their traffic which protects their identity and what they’re browsing.

“No one between the user and the website they are visiting can access and read,” Apple said.

This will include Apple itself and your ISP.

It does this by directing your traffic through two different relays. The first assigns you an anonymous  IP address and the second forwards the user to a destination.

If this sounds exactly like a VPN, that’s because it basically is.

But unlike a VPN, Private Relay is said to have been optimises for performance. This should hopefully mean that it won’t result in any obvious network lag.

It’s currently unclear if this will cause any issues with websites and apps that throttle login attempts if they can’t get a read on a consistent IP address.

However, considering that VPNs and dynamic IP addresses precede Private Relay, we’re hoping this won’t be an issue — particularly if users are given temporary IP addresses that are unique to them.

How do I get it?

Private relay will launch later this year as part of Apple’s new iCloud+ subscription service. However, it won’t be available in China for regulatory reasons.

Interestingly, iCloud+ is free…if you are already subscribed to an iCloud service. It’s unclear if this will ever change, but it does mean that for now, the cheapest price to access these new features is $1.49 a month for 50GB of iCloud storage.

Here’s what else you get with iCloud+:

  • Hide My Email: this lets you use a randomly generated email address while signing up for stuff like newsletters and services. They will forward to your regular email address and there’s no limit on how many faux email addresses you create
  • HomeKit Secure Video: this let’s it detect people, animals, cars and packages in your security camera feeds

Elsewhere in iCloud, a new Account Recovery system lets you add another admin you can request access from. But unlike you, they won’t have actual access to your data.

And if you’re feeling a bit morbid, the new Account Legacy feature lets you set up ‘legacy contacts’ who can get access to and download your data when you die.