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Make it easy What's Up With Apple's New 'Private Relay'?

Illustration for article titled What's Up With Apple's New 'Private Relay'?

Photo: Alberto Garcia Guillen (Shutterstock)

Apple shared a bunch of big reveals at this year’s WWDC presentation, most of which were promptly overshadowed by the parade of new iOS 15 features. One of the biggest was the announcement of Private Relay, a new service coming for iCloud+ subscribers that promises to make Safari even more private once you upgrade to the forthcoming iOS 15, iPadOS 15, and macOS Monteray.

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Here’s how it works: When active, Private Relay will encrypt your browsing data and send it through two relays (or servers, essentially). The first changes your IP address to a randomized one based on where you live, effectively hiding your device’s identity from your ISP (and anyone else).

After encrypting your browsing data and scrambling your IP address in the first relay, the data is then sent to a second, separate relay where it’s decrypted, allowing you to connect to a given website.

How does Apple’s Private Relay compare to a VPN?

If this sounds like a VPN to you, you aren’t exactly wrong,  but there are some major differences between the two. First, unlike a VPN, Apple Relay decrypts your browsing data at a second server; VPNs keep your data encrypted the entire time.

That said, Apple Private Relay’s two-server setup adds an extra layer of privacy that many VPNs lack. Some—but not all—VPNs keep records of who connects to their servers. Since all activity happens on a single server, someone could use a VPN’s logs to track a user’s activity on its server. Apple Relay separates everything between two relays, similar to the way Tor anonymizes browsing data, but with fewer relays; in theory, this means Private Relay shouldn’t affect browsing speeds as much. After the first server encrypts your data, no one—not even Apple—can track it once it’s sent to the second server. At least, that’s how Apple says it works.

Another difference is the way Apple Relay handles IP masking. Most VPNs allow you to select a proxy server region so you can get around geoblocking—that’s how VPNs can allow U.S. users to watch Netflix content exclusive to other countries. Apple Relay masks your IP just like a VPN, but the fake address will match your current location, meaning you can’t use it to circumvent regional geoblocks. Private Relay is also unavailable in some countries—notably China and Saudi Arabia.

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Finally, Apple’s Private Relay is only available on Safari to users on iOS 15, iPadOS 15, and macOS Monteray. VPNs work on any device and browser they support.

To Apple’s credit, the company makes it clear that Private Relay is not a VPN. But unless you specifically need to use a VPN to get around geoblocking, or you only use non-Safari browsers, it’s possible Private Relay could replace a paid VPN for iCloud+ subscribers—at least once iOS/iPadOS 15 and macOS Monteray roll out later this year.

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[HowToGeek]

Source link: lifehacker.com

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