Google One VPN Comes to the iPhone and iPad | Should You Use It or Not?

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If you’re a Gmail user looking for a bit of extra online security on the go, you may be happy to know that Google has just expanded its Google One VPN app to the iPhone and iPad. This brings a free VPN solution for iOS users who already subscribe to a Google One Premium plan.

The search giant first announced the Google One VPN service in late 2020, but until now, it’s been limited to Android smartphones and tablets. Today, however, Google has announced that the new VPN service is rolling out on iOS devices, and best of all is that you don’t need to download anything else to take advantage of it.

Just like on Android, Google has baked the VPN service into the standard Google One app, which means that Google One users on an eligible plan should see the option to use it showing up in the next few days.

To be clear, the VPN feature will only be available to those on a Google Premium plan, which includes 2TB of storage across Google Drive, Gmail, and Google Photos for $9.99/month. That’s basically what you’ll pay for the same amount of storage on iCloud.

That theoretically drops a bit if you subscribe to an Apple One Premier Bundle, although that sort of depends on the value you assign to each of Apple’s services.

Nevertheless, folks entrenched in the world of Google services are likely already paying for the Google One Premium plan, especially since that storage can also be shared with up to five additional family members at no additional cost.

The same will also be true of Google’s VPN service, allowing everyone in your circle to take advantage of the added security and peace of mind of a fully encrypted connection.

Google One VPN vs. iCloud Private Relay | What You Should Know

Since Apple now provides a VPN-like service in iOS 15 in the form of iCloud Private Relay, there are some advantages to the Google One VPN.

First among these, of course, is the fact that it’s included with the highest-tier Google Drive storage plan. Since most users aren’t likely paying for both iCloud storage and Google Drive storage, chances are you’ll just use whatever VPN or private relay service is already available to you on the plan that you’re on.

  • However, it’s also worth noting that Google’s VPN service acts much more like a traditional VPN. This means that it will encrypt ALL the traffic leaving your iPhone or iPad.
  • iCloud Private Relay only protects Safari browsing; third-party apps are only covered if they’re using an insecure connection in the first place.

The Downside

The downside to traditional VPNs is that while your ISP and other third-party sites won’t get your real IP address or be able to monitor your traffic, the company that runs the VPN always knows exactly who you are and where you’re going.

In this case, that company is Google — one whose entire business model is based on collecting this kind of data. Of course, you can never be sure that most third-party VPN providers aren’t also harvesting and selling your browsing data, anonymously or otherwise, so it really comes down to a choice between the devil you know and the devil you don’t.

iCloud Private Relay, on the other hand, is specifically designed in such a way that it’s basically impossible to track your browsing activity. Apple has gone to great lengths to set up a “zero-knowledge” infrastructure, passing your data through two servers run by different organizations.

While the first server knows where your traffic is coming from (and can therefore track your identity), that traffic remains encrypted until it hits the second server, which only knows that the request came from the first one. In other words, no single entity gets to know both who you are and where you’re going.

One Missing Key Feature

One last point that’s worth keeping in mind is that both Google One VPN and iCloud Private Relay are missing one key feature that many people use a VPN for: bypassing geographic restrictions.

As large companies that both have a stake in the media business, neither one is about to provide a way for users to bypass country-specific restrictions when it comes to watching movies or downloading apps. If you’re looking for a VPN to do that, you’ll need to check out one of these alternatives.

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