What is iCloud + (and why use it)?

If you’ve received an email from Apple letting you know you’ve upgraded to iCloud + at no additional cost, you’re not alone. So what is iCloud +? What do you get and why should you use it?

What is iCloud +?

Announced at WWDC 2021, iCloud + is a suite of additional services designed to complement the existing functionality of Apple’s iCloud online service. Despite the name, it doesn’t cost more than before but is only available to paid subscribers. The 5 GB free tier does not benefit from these additional features. The upgraded service adds useful security enhancements including iCloud Private Relay (still in beta), Hide My Email, and improved support for HomeKit Secure Video.

Announcing the upgrade to paid users, Apple said:

“Good news! We’ve automatically upgraded your iCloud storage plan to iCloud + at no additional cost. ICloud + combines everything you already love about iCloud with new features including iCloud Private Relay, Hide My Email and more HomeKit Secure Video support.

Why should you use iCloud +?

These new features are designed to ensure user safety. This security ranges from protecting Safari browsing sessions to ensuring that marketers cannot easily collect information about you. If you care about your privacy, these features should come in handy. They can also have implications for businesses, while the iCloud Custom Domain Tool should be useful for small business users.

So what do you get? Let’s dive into each component.

What is iCloud Private Relay?

Currently available in beta, iCloud Private Relay is a VPN-like service that protects you when using Safari to browse online. It uses a double-hop architecture. This means that the service encrypts Safari traffic when it leaves your device, thus protecting it from being read by others. It encrypts the URL so that no one, not your ISP or Apple, can see which site you are visiting. Your IP address and destination can then be accessed using an intermediate relay station managed by a “third-party trusted partner,” according to Apple.

It works as follows:

  • Your requests are encrypted and sent via two separate internet relays;
  • The first relay operated by Apple provides you with an anonymous IP address that matches your region, but not your location.
  • The second third-party relay decrypts and takes you to the web address.
  • This double-hop approach means that no one can see who a user is and which sites they choose to visit. Apple only sees the IP address you request, while third parties only see the website you request.

Apple did not specify who its trusted partners are. He said the service protects your browsing preferences “without compromising performance” – although some reports differ.

It is interesting to note that Apple does not offer this feature in China, Belarus, Colombia, Egypt, Kazakhstan, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Turkmenistan, Uganda, Philippines and, apparently. it, in Russia. One can’t help but wonder what these nations have against anonymous web browsing.

Spencer Dailey speculates some network operators, such as university campuses, will attempt to prohibit the use of this feature. It seems possible that some corporate networks are also looking to ban it, especially when dealing with highly confidential data, as this feature undermines some risk-based authentication systems.

To turn on iCloud Private Relay, go to Settings> Apple ID> iCloud> Private relay and activate.

What is Hide my email?

This feature allows you to create random emails which are forwarded to your primary email address. This allows you to register online without having to share your real address. “Hide my email also allows users to create and delete as many addresses as needed at any time, giving users control over who can contact them,” Apple said.

  • To use the feature, open Settings and press the Apple ID section at the top of the main menu. Then press iCloud.
  • In the next section, tap Hide my email then choose Create a new address.
  • Give the address an identifying label (newsletters, for example), press Next then press Ended.
  • A random email address will be created for you and you can access it in iCloud settings.
  • Scroll down and you will see that you can also change the Transfer to item to any address you own, including non-Apple addresses.

What is mail privacy protection?

A die new features in iCloud Mail, Mail Privacy Protection, prevents senders from using web beacons in emails to collect information about you. These are widely used to determine if emails have been opened or to identify IP addresses. Protection means your IP address is random. Although intended to prevent aggressive marketing, there are concerns that some newsletter publishers may be affected, although this may not be the case in fact.

To activate the setting, which is not activated by default, go to Settings> Mail> Privacy protection and turn on the Protect email activity option.

What is HomeKit Secure Video?

Announced last year, this feature allows you to connect supported home security cameras to your Home app. Security video can be stored in iCloud at no additional cost, which means it is highly secure and accessible from anywhere using end-to-end encryption with a device signed in to your Apple ID.

The system is smart enough that if you have an Apple TV or HomePod, this device will try to analyze the video footage to detect people, animals, or vehicles that have been captured by the camera.

The number of cameras you can add to your account is limited to none with a free account, one with a 50 GB iCloud account, and five with a 200 GB tier. If you want to add an unlimited number of cameras, you will need a 2TB iCloud + account, which is now included in the Premier Apple One subscription.

Apple One is Apple’s all-in-one subscription service that offers access to Apple Music, TV +, Arcade, and iCloud; the Premier level adds News + and Fitness +

What is a custom email domain?

This useful enhancement lets you customize your iCloud email address with up to five domain names that you own. You can create up to three email addresses per domain, but you can’t move a single email address to iCloud Mail while leaving another for your ISP. If you use Family Sharing, up to five family members can also use this domain.

The Smith family can use smithfamily.com as their domain (if it was available), for example.

To use a domain with your iCloud account, you must update the MX, TXT, and CNAME records held by your domain registrar as detailed in this Apple Support Document.

Has the Apple iCloud Mail web app been updated?

Indeed. Apple has updated the iCloud Mail web app accessible through iCloud.com. Apple made the app look more consistent with its current operating system designs – and emails you compose now open in the same window.

Finally, the company has implemented an improved service for recover data from iCloud in case of loss of your password.

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Copyright © 2021 IDG Communications, Inc.

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