The many privacy-related features Apple announced at its keynote presentation at WWDC 2021 include some outstanding upgrades to the iCloud ecosystem.

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

How iCloud + makes your Apple devices and connected cameras more secure.

A fortress around your iPhone, iPad and Mac

Apple has always excelled at seamlessly baking features. Now it is using this know-how to improve data protection on the Internet at the system level.

The new security functions of iCloud + are integrated directly into the operating systems of your Apple devices. Together with the anti-tracking features of the Mail app in iOS 15, iCloud + will raise the bar for online data protection.

Private Relay: A built-in VPN-like service for surfing the Internet

The first and arguably most significant new feature of iCloud + is Private Relay – a VPN-like service that protects your privacy while you surf the web with Safari.

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

In addition, all requests go through two separate Internet relays. The service initially provides an anonymous IP address that only contains your region – not your exact location.

It is the second relay that decrypts the address of your target website (which comes from the anonymous IP address). Not even Apple can link your identity to the websites you visit because these two steps are different. Because of this, Private Relay may be even more secure than some traditional VPN services.

iCloud + is different from a third-party VPN service that would require you to download an app and install a profile on each of your devices. Private Relay works automatically on any iPhone, iPad, or Mac that you're signed into iCloud on. However, it is only compatible with Safari; other browsers will still need to use a third-party VPN.

Perhaps all of the other new Safari features announced at WWDC 2021 will be tempting users to switch.

Like Apple's Find My Network, Private Relay is another example of how the company leverages the reach and interoperability of its ecosystem to deliver a level of service that the competition simply cannot match.

Private Relay: Supported Countries

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

Hide my email: Anonymous email addresses

Hide My Email allows you to generate a unique, random email address that you can provide to web services, checkouts, and more. The random email address forwards all messages to your personal email account.

That way, you can still get a shop voucher without revealing your personal email address for lifetime marketing messages.

The "Hide my e-mail" function is integrated in the 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 no longer need.

HomeKit Secure Video Storage: Zero to Unlimited

As more indoor and outdoor surveillance cameras are updated to support HomeKit Secure Video, many users have found it necessary to upgrade to higher levels of iCloud storage to improve their security settings.

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

Now you can use iCloud + to connect an unlimited number of HomeKit cameras to your iCloud account. Additionally, recordings from iCloud Secure Video no longer count towards your iCloud storage limit, which unlocks unlimited storage space 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.

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

In addition, basic tier subscribers who were previously unable to use HomeKit secure video storage can use the secure service.

Apple's war on tracking continues

With its deep integration and free pricing model, the privacy upgrades included in iCloud + look like they're extremely powerful and easy to use. Like app tracking transparency, these features are big wins for everyday users and could further disrupt the advertising and online tracking industries.

In addition to these privacy improvements, the WWDC 2021 keynote revealed many more exciting iOS 15 announcements to explore.

Photo credit: Apple

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About the author

Tom Twardzik
(19 articles published)

Tom writes about technology and how to make the most of it. You can also find it through music, movies, travel, and a variety of niches on the internet. When he's not online, he develops iOS apps and claims to be writing a novel.

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By Tom Twardzik

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