What Is Apple’s Private Relay, and Is a VPN Better?

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What Is Apple’s Private Relay, and Is a VPN Better?

“Private Relay” is a new VPN-like service scheduled for iOS 15, iPadOS 15, and macOS Monteray in fall 2021. At WWDC 2021, Apple announced Private Relay alongside some other privacy-focused services. These will be included with iCloud’s paid plans, which will be renamed to iCloud+.

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At the time of the announcement, Apple went into a few details on how Private Relay will work. For one, it seems that it will be exclusive to the Safari browser on iPhone, iPad, and Mac. When enabled, it will encrypt all data leaving your device, including the address of any sites that you want to visit. Then, it will send your data through two so-called “relays.” The first will assign you a random IP address in your region, and the second will decrypt the name of the site and send you there.

By using two servers in this way, Apple claims that it will protect your identity “because no single entity can identify both who a user is and which sites they visit.” The whole proposition sounds enticing and seems like a good way to bolster Apple customers’ privacy—at least, for those who’ve already signed up to iCloud’s paid plans.

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