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How to use Apple’s private migration feature with iCloud Plus

How to use Apple’s private migration feature with iCloud Plus


One of the most interesting new features available with iOS 15, iPadOS 15 and macOS Monterey is iCloud Plus, Apple’s upgraded iCloud subscription service that adds some major privacy features. Chief among these is Private Relay, a VPN-like service designed to hide your devices’ internet traffic from anyone trying to snoop.

Here’s how to use it:

To get started, you must be using iOS 15, iPadOS 15, or macOS Monterey and be on one of Apple’s iCloud plans. All paid iCloud plans β€” including a 50 GB plan for $0.99 per month β€” are eligible, as are shared iCloud family plans or plans purchased with a shared Apple One subscription.

Operating a Private Relay is very simple.

  • On your iPhone or iPad, head to Settings > Apple ID > iCloud > Private Relay and toggle on the “Private Relay” switch
  • On a Mac, head to System Preferences > Apple ID > iCloud, and check the box labeled β€œPrivate Migration”

Toggle for private paging in iOS 15.

Private Relay limits your IP address to be hidden within your current country and timezone.

Unlike most VPNs, Private Relay offers one configurable option: the ability to choose the location of your IP address. Apple gives you two options here: you can use a “public IP address” so that websites will continue to give you approximate location data, or you can choose a broader IP address somewhere in your country and time zone (which provides greater anonymity at the expense of more accurate online content ).

Notably, though, Private Relay still only lets you navigate the web by your current (approximate) geographic location, so you can’t use it for more popular VPN activities β€” like streaming Netflix content from a different country or getting around local sports blackout rules. .

Missing some key VPN features

Apple says Private Relay is actually more secure than a traditional VPN, noting that the traffic is twice hidden. When you go to a URL in Safari, it is first sent to Apple, which removes your IP address information, and then sends it to a second server β€” maintained by an as-yet-unidentified third party β€” to assign a new, temporary IP address. The net result is that no Apple, a third-party relay company, or a website can track you.

There are some limitations to Private Relay. To start, it will not be available in a number of countries: China, Belarus, Colombia, Egypt, Kazakhstan, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Turkmenistan, Uganda, and the Philippines. Apple tells Reuters This is due to the regulatory restrictions in those countries.

Plus, Private Relay only works with Safari – not other web browsers or apps – which makes it a much more limited option than other VPN services, especially when combined with the fact that it can’t be used to bypass geo-location limits.

But considering Private Relay is included as a free add-on for iCloud subscribers, it’s a great addition, especially if you’re a user who is more interested in the privacy benefits of a VPN for regular web browsing than in specific VPN use cases. Restricting Safari only can help push users towards using the Apple browser over competitors like Chrome or Firefox as well.

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