Apple Announces New iPhone and Mac Encryption and Privacy Features

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The iOS 15 and macOS Monterey updates released this autumn improve web privacy for Apple device users, particularly iCloud members.

Cryptocurrency users and privacy advocates alike frequently criticise Big Tech for interfering with communications data, but Apple’s upcoming software upgrades, previewed today at the Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC), underscore the company’s growing emphasis on privacy features in its apps and devices.

New encryption and privacy capabilities are coming to Apple’s premium iCloud storage subscription service, which will be dubbed iCloud+ when they become available this autumn at no additional cost. The latest software upgrades will include iOS 15 for iPhone, iPad OS 15 for iPad, macOS Monterey for Mac, and watchOS 8 for Apple Watch.

According to Apple, the new iCloud Private Relay feature will encrypt all web traffic sent from your device, free from the prying eyes of network providers and Apple alike. Data sent from your Apple device is sent through a pair of internet relays: the first is assigned an anonymous IP address mapped to your region (but not specific location), while the second relay decrypts your chosen web address and sends you on your way.

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A new “Hide My Email” option is also included in iCloud+, which allows you to create randomised email addresses that automatically redirect correspondence to your real address. This allows you to hide your true email address from the receiver, and you may create as many addresses as you like and erase them whenever you want. You may also put a message to each address to remind yourself of how you’ve utilised it. iCloud+ will also broaden the HomeKit Secure Video function, which provides end-to-end encryption for any video footage captured by home security cameras.

Additional privacy capabilities will be accessible to all users of iOS 15 and macOS Monterey, not just those who pay to an iCloud+ storage and service package. Mail Privacy Protection in the Mail app will disable invisible tracking pictures in emails and mask your IP address, and the Safari web browser’s newly upgraded Intelligent Tracking Protection will disguise your IP address from trackers.

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Furthermore, an App Privacy Report will provide an overview of the device permissions that you have granted to downloaded apps—such as location, camera, and microphone—so that you can adjust them as desired. It will also share which third-party domains the app is contacting, in case you spot any sketchy destinations that might be privy to your private data.

Apple will also transfer certain Siri voice assistant queries from the cloud to your device, but only those that do not require an internet connection to fulfil (such as playing music, setting timers, etc.). FaceTime, Apple’s video chatting software, will also include the option to talk with Android and Windows users via web connections, which will carry the same degree of end-to-end security as Apple’s native FaceTime apps.

Though Apple has yet to enter the bitcoin market, a new job posting suggests that it is investigating bitcoin for payment services. Increased emphasis on end-to-end encryption, which keeps outside parties out of your data, would be a necessary condition. Furthermore, Apple’s new options subtly mimic the Bitcoin ethos, with several email addresses analogous to utilising numerous wallets to mask your identity, as well as empowering consumers weary of third-party encroachment into personal data.

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iOS 15, macOS Monterey, iPadOS 15, and watchOS 8 will be released this autumn, as is customary in September and in conjunction with new Apple devices. A developer beta released today for all four software upgrades, with public beta versions coming in July.

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