iCloud+ Will Bring New Privacy and Storage Features at No Extra Charge | #ios | #apple | #iossecurity

Among the many privacy-related features that Apple announced at its WWDC 2021 keynote presentation are some standout upgrades to the iCloud ecosystem.

On iOS, iPadOS, and macOS, iCloud+ will boost privacy across your devices with significant improvements in three key areas: web browsing, email, and HomeKit secure video.

Here’s how iCloud+ is going to make your Apple devices and connected cameras more secure.

A Fortress Around Your iPhone, iPad, and Mac

Overview of new iCloud+ features

Apple has always excelled at baking in features in a seamless way. Now, it’s using that expertise to improve internet privacy at a system level.

The new security features enabled by iCloud+ are built right into the operating systems of your Apple devices. Along with the anti-tracking features coming to the Mail app in iOS 15, iCloud+ is set to raise the bar for online privacy.

Private Relay: A Built-In VPN-Like Service for Web Browsing

The first and arguably most significant new feature that’s coming with iCloud+ is Private Relay—a VPN-like service that helps protect your privacy while you’re browsing the internet with Safari.

First, Private Relay encrypts all traffic that leaves your device. Apple says no one will be able to intercept or read that encrypted data, so you can feel more secure using public Wi-Fi networks.

Randomized IP address with Private Relay

Additionally, all requests pass through two separate internet relays. The service first provides an anonymous IP address that only includes your region—not your precise location.

It’s the second relay that decrypts your destination website’s address (which has come from the anonymous IP address). Not even Apple can connect your identity to the websites your visit, because these two steps are distinct. Because of that, Private Relay may be even more secure than some traditional VPN services.

iCloud+ is different from a third-party VPN service, which would require downloading an app and installing a profile on each of your devices. Private Relay will work automatically on any iPhone, iPad, or Mac where you’re logged into iCloud. However, it’s only compatible with Safari; other browsers will still have to use a third-party VPN.

Maybe all the other new Safari features announced at WWDC 2021 will entice users to switch.

Like Apple’s Find My network, Private Relay is another example of the company flexing the reach and interoperability of its ecosystem to enable a level of service that competitors simply can’t match.

Private Relay: Supported Countries

According to Reuters, Private Relay won’t be available in the following countries: China, Belarus, the Philippines, Colombia, Egypt, Kazakhstan, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Turkmenistan, and Uganda.

Hide My Email: Anonymous Email Addresses

With Hide My Email, you can generate a unique, random email address to provide to web services, store checkouts, and more. The random email address will forward all messages to your personal email account.

Hide My Email random email management

That way, you can still receive a store coupon without surrendering your personal email address to a lifetime of marketing messages.

The Hide My Email feature is built into Mail, Safari, and iCloud settings on iOS, iPadOS, and macOS Monterey. You can set up an unlimited number of random email addresses, view them all in iCloud settings, and delete the ones you don’t need anymore.

Hide My Email feature built into Mail, Safari, and Settings

HomeKit Secure Video Storage: Zero to Unlimited

As more indoor and outdoor security cameras update to support HomeKit Secure Video, many users found it necessary to upgrade to higher tiers of iCloud storage to power their security setups.

Storing recordings from one camera required the 200GB tier, while using multiple cameras required even higher plans.

HomeKit Secure Video diagram of home

Now, iCloud+ allows you to connect unlimited HomeKit cameras to your iCloud account. Additionally, recordings from iCloud Secure Video no longer count against your iCloud storage limit, unlocking unlimited storage capacity for iCloud subscribers.

iCloud+ Pricing: Free Upgrade for Paying Subscribers

Perhaps the biggest news about iCloud+ is that it’s a free upgrade for any paid iCloud tier.

Whether you’re paying $0.99 per month for the 50GB tier or $10 per month for the 2TB tier, iCloud+ is included at no extra charge.

Graphic with floating iCloud icons

If you were only upgrading your iCloud storage to store more HomeKit Secure Video recordings, you can now downgrade your paid tier and store unlimited recordings from all of your cameras.

Further, base-tier subscribers who couldn’t previously use HomeKit Secure Video storage can now use the secure service.

Apple’s War on Tracking Continues

With its deep integration and no-extra-charge pricing model, the privacy upgrades included in iCloud+ look like they’ll be extremely powerful and easy to use. Like App Tracking Transparency, these features are big wins for everyday users and could further shake up the advertising and online tracking industries.

Beyond these privacy improvements, the WWDC 2021 keynote revealed many other exciting iOS 15 announcements to explore.

Image Credits: Apple

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