Apple Unveils VPN-Like Service and New Privacy Features at WWDC 2021

On Monday, at its 2021 Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC), Apple unveiled several privacy features that are coming with its new iOS 15, iPadOS 15, macOS Monterey, and watchOS 8 operating systems later this year.

Apple announced iCloud+, which brings several new features on top of iCloud, including a new private browsing service named Private Relay.

Private Relay is designed to ensure that when the user browses the internet with Safari, traffic leaving their device is encrypted to prevent third-parties — this allegedly includes Apple — from intercepting it. Based on Apple’s limited description of the service, it sounds like a VPN, but from a technical perspective it may be more similar to the Tor anonymity network.

According to Apple, all requests are sent through two relays: one that assigns an anonymous IP address to the user, and one that decrypts the web address they want to access and forwards the user to their destination,

“This separation of information protects the user’s privacy because no single entity can identify both who a user is and which sites they visit,” Apple said.

Private Relay will not be available in China due to local laws. Back in 2017, Apple was forced to remove some third-party VPN services from its Chinese App Store due to local regulations.

According to Reuters, other countries where Private Relay will not be available due to local regulations include Belarus, Colombia, Egypt, Kazachstan, Philippines, ..