With iOS 15 and macOS 12, Apple is introducing various new services for iCloud. If you pay money for the service, you can in future use “iCloud +” free of charge, which brings all kinds of security functions. Probably the most exciting feature is the so-called private relay – this will allow users of the Apple browser Safari to use a kind of pseudo VPN that hides IP addresses from websites. Now more technical details have leaked – as well as Apple’s possible partners.
Apple’s very special non-VPN
Instead of building a real virtual private network in which the server operator (i.e. Apple) would have control over the incoming and outgoing data packets, the IP concealment service Private Relay of the iPhone group works according to a different principle: Neither Apple nor its partners should be in be able to track traffic.
DNS requests are automatically encrypted by the Apple Safari browser and their origin is also obscured. Additional encryption and two proxy types, each of which only know parts of the DNS request and are operated by independent entities, are intended to ensure that third parties can no longer create surf profiles, for example.
Known three partners
Apple has not yet communicated which partners they are – this is planned for a “later date”. As the Streaming Media Blog reported, but the first relay providers seem to have been established in the meantime. So it will be at least Akamai, Cloudflare sowie Fastly be – in other words, quite classic providers of content delivery network services. In some cases, Apple has been using these for years to accelerate its content services such as the distribution of videos and music.
The CDN corporations have the advantage that they have infrastructures in almost every region. Apple can use it to map local IPs, as requested by the company. Akamai, Cloudflare and Fastly have not yet confirmed the cooperation – whether this will still take place remains unclear. Private Relay will not be a real VPN where you can also change your geo-location. It is also unclear whether the iCloud + service also works with other browsers, i.e. whether it is deeper anchored in the system – but there is already speculation that this could be the case. The service should be activated with future beta versions of iOS 15 and macOS 12.
[Update 25.6.2021 17:45 Uhr] The presentation of the functionality of Apple’s Private Relay has been revised in the message.