Digging into Apple’s iCloud Private Relay

pablozi

Level 27
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Jun 14, 2011
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At this week’s WWDC Keynote, Apple announced iCloud Private Relay, a privacy feature aimed towards further separating you and your browsing activity from people who want to track and collect data about you. iCloud Private Relay works for anyone with an iCloud+ subscription using iOS 15, iPadOS 15, and macOS Monterey, and when enabled it protects all your Safari browsing, all DNS queries, and any insecure web traffic from other apps.

 

SpiderWeb

Level 6
Aug 21, 2020
254
Well well well. Downloaded iOS 15 beta for you guys to observe and ask questions about iCloud+ Private Relay. Please send me any sites to test VPNs. So far I tested the regular and I got this interesting result:

This is in the USA, West Coast.
  • The main servers iCloud+ Private Relay connects to are Cloudflare, Akamai, Fastly. As suspected, Apple appears to have deals to be piggyback riding off very very fast CDNs.
  • Private Relay works around your VPN. If your VPN is off, it turns on. If your VPN is on, it turns off. Private Relay has its own DNS servers but falls back to your 3rd party DNS if you have one set up. In my case nextDNS
  • I do have a different public IP which can be either IPv4 or IPv6. It's not a single IP for your entire session. The IP rotates with every new domain you visit. Interesting!
  • Performance is not on par with high performance VPNs right now but it's fast enough for browsing, apps and multimedia other than real time gaming or downloading very large files. They might ramp up bandwidth and locations but right now it's very limited in speed and usefulness. Ping is about 50% higher than what I have and bandwidth is only half! So it's not on the level of current VPNs but we will see how this will change when Apple goes mainstream in fall and turns all the bandwidth up.
  • You can choose to use your real IP or a general public IP under IP Address Location Settings. I think the default option is the best. But you can base it off Country and Time Zone to force your location. Either way will pick servers as close to you as possible in theory.
 

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