With the new iCloud+ (pronounced “iCloud Plus”) subscription, Apple’s iCloud members will enjoy a big discount when iOS 15 launches this fall. It’s essentially a free upgrade to the current iCloud premium service, with new privacy features at its core.
Apple’s iCloud was created as a unified package of cloud services to encrypt and sync your files and apps across all of your devices, succeeding iTools,.Mac, and MobileMe. By checking in from a supported web browser, you can access all of your photographs, files, notes, contacts, and reminders from anywhere. The free iCloud account comes with only 5GB of online storage, but you can upgrade to a premium membership plan to get more storage and other useful features.
Apple unveiled iCloud+ at WWDC 2021, an improvement to its current service that includes additional privacy-focused features and other useful features. Private Relay, Hide My Email, and HomeKit Secure Video are three of the most anticipated features in iOS 15. They include internet encryption, the creation of a fake email account, and improved compatibility for home security cameras. If you already have a premium iCloud storage plan, the additional features will be available as a free upgrade at launch. Here’s a rundown of what’s to come.
Relay Service for Individuals
Private Relay is Apple’s version of a quasi-VPN that encrypts all outbound traffic from your device, disguising your online behavior from internet service providers, governments, and criminal snoops.
Private Relay is similar to a VPN, but it differs from traditional VPNs in that it uses two servers to anonymize your online activities: one is Apple, and the other is an unidentified third party. Content passes through two distinct relays after encryption, where even Apple is unable to see it.
If someone were to intercept communication on a public wireless network, they would still have to decrypt the data in order to compromise their privacy. Because the destination is encrypted, Apple will know who you are but not where you’re going. The third party knows where you are and where you’ve been with the second channel, but not who you are because your IP address is anonymous. This should operate without a speed hit in theory, but that remains to be seen.
VPNs are frequently used to conceal one’s location in order to gain access to geo-restricted content, however Private Relay will not do so. Unlike iCloud Private Relay, which is built just for Safari, traditional VPNs protect all of your internet actions, at least at first. Because Private Relay is supposed to be flexible, you may be able to turn it off for specific websites. Apple expects that enough developers would adopt the concept so Private Relay will no longer be limited to Safari.
Due to strong censorship rules in those countries, Private Relay will not be available in Belarus, China, Colombia, Egypt, Kazakhstan, the Philippines, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Turkmenistan, or Uganda.
Hide My Email
Instead of displaying your real email address, Hide My Email allows you to create and delete email aliases. This new functionality will be integrated into the settings of Mail, Safari, and iCloud, allowing you to create as many fake addresses as you want and erase them whenever you like. It behaves exactly like your regular email and is delivered to your inbox. If the address is later used by spammers, you can erase it using your iCloud settings. The function, which is comparable to Apple’s Sign in, anonymizes your address for better spam protection.
Secure Video on HomeKit
HomeKit Secure Video footage will be end-to-end encrypted with iCloud+, and there will be no limit to how many devices you may connect. To record video from a single camera using Apple’s prior subscription plan, consumers had to subscribe for a 200GB iCloud plan, which counted against your overall iCloud storage. You’ll be able to connect more cameras to the Home app after the upgrade, and the footage won’t count against your overall iCloud storage. Anything filmed by security cameras is processed and encrypted on your smartphone before being stored in iCloud with HomeKit Secure Video.
The ability to add a person as a password backup is another useful feature that will be included in the iCloud upgrade. If you forget your iCloud account password, Apple is offering a new way to get a security code to access your account. This option allows you to add a trusted family member or friend who will be able to receive the code and share it with you.
Contact Information for the Past
If you use iCloud to store family memories like photos and videos, as well as other important documents and contacts, you’ll undoubtedly want to leave instructions for loved ones to retrieve those things after you’re gone. With iCloud+, you can designate an existing contact as a Legacy Contact, allowing them to access your account after you die away.
All of the additional premium capabilities will be available to all users when iCloud+ releases this fall, with all iCloud+ plans sharable within the same Family Sharing group. The following are the current prices:
- For $1 per month, you can get 50GB of storage and one HomeKit Secure Video camera.
- For $3 per month, you get 200GB of storage and up to five HomeKit Secure Video cameras.
- For $10 per month, you get 2TB of storage and an unlimited number of HomeKit Secure Video cameras.
If you have an Apple One subscription, you will be immediately enrolled in the iCloud+ update at no additional cost.