iCloud+ | Apple’s Giving iCloud Users a Powerful (and Free) Privacy Upgrade

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People like their privacy, so it’s no surprise many of Apple’s announcements in its June WWDC21 event focused on data privacy.

When its Health Sharing ability was announced for the Health app, for example, Apple was quick to say that all health data would be fully encrypted from end-to-end, and the company would never be able to see it. But the most significant privacy announcement of the day was a new service called iCloud+ (Plus), essentially billed as “iCloud but more.”

It turns out the new iCloud Plus features are all about data privacy and are a welcome upgrade for paid iCloud users who depend on iCloud for all kinds of syncing, sharing, and more. Let’s take a look at just what iCloud Plus changes.

Private Relay: Private relay is somewhere between an Incognito Mode for your browser and a VPN. When you enable the mode on Safari, it will encrypt all outgoing web traffic via a system of two relay points. That means Apple (among others) won’t be able to see what you are doing on Safari. Internet service providers shouldn’t be able to tell either, which is big news as ISP monitoring is a common complaint among privacy communities. 

Hide My Email: Hide My Email is a very literal description of this feature, which allows you to have a secure primary email address that no one else has, and use iCloud as a sort of proxy to create and manage temporary, “fake” email addresses for your activities around the web. That means no one ever gets your actual address unless you really want them to, and you don’t have to work at creating temporary addresses at all as iCloud handles most of the details. It’s an excellent feature for people trying to avoid spam and similar issues.

HomeKit Security Cam Upgrades: This may sound like a minor feature, but it’s a pretty big deal. Home security cameras that support HomeKit will capture video footage (such as the kind automatically triggered by package detection in iOS 15) and send it to iCloud Plus for viewing, and it won’t even count toward your iCloud Plus storage limits! Remember that most security cam companies now charge a subscription fee (around $10 per month) for allowing you to send security cam video to cloud storage for anything longer than a couple of days. Apple is essentially offering the same service for as little as $0.99 monthly with 50GB iCloud Plus, which is both a challenge to the home security industry and a quandary for security brands looking at HomeKit compatibility.

These services sound great for privacy, and the best part is that paid subscribers won’t have to pay more for them. iCloud rates will remain the same, and anyone who is currently paying for iCloud storage should get Plus features as they roll out sometime this year.

Keep watching out for iCloud Plus so you can start using these new modes and services. They won’t be enabled automatically, so there’s a slight learning curve to prep for. We’ll keep you updated!

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