Apple Private Relay – How Does It Work?

Apple Private Relay – How Does It Work?

Whenever you surf the web, you use several networks in either private internet or public Wi-Fi. Behind the scenes, websites may use your browser history to build an online profile about you. Therefore, protecting your data is of utmost importance. 

Several companies have developed applications to help safeguard user data, like the Apple Private Relay. Apple has been in the limelight due to the upsides and downsides this tool offers users. It is worth noting that it only works through iOS and macOS native apps like Safari. 

What Is the iCloud Apple Private Relay

The iCloud Apple Private Relay system might sound like a VPN, but this is not the case. In truth, it offers similar functionalities but with a completely different methodology. The Apple-owned tool is designed to hide your IP address and Safari browsing activities. 

Unlike VPNs, iCloud Apple Relay only encrypts specific data and tries to protect users from geo-blocking (although it fails in this section). Furthermore, it is not automatically available to iOS and macOS users as one must pay for an iCloud account to gain access (The cheapest subscription is $0.99 per month).

How It Works

Unlike VPNs, the relay system doesn’t use tunneling. Instead, it uses two proxy servers to encrypt data. After accessing Safari on your iPhone, the first server, run by Apple, is connected. This server approximates your location and sends data to the second server through an encrypted connection.

The second server decrypts the information and redirects you to the right website. It is worth noting that the first server has your IP address but doesn’t know the content to be accessed. The second has the content needed but doesn’t know your IP address. Therefore, the two-server approach allows websites to display relevant content but never identify your IP addresses.

Is It Secure? 

Over the years, there have been concerns about iCloud Apple Private Relay’s security. Specifically, questions have been raised over the running of the two servers. Case in point, Apple owns and runs the first server while the US Data Privacy Laws and Jurisdictions Department runs the Private Relay. Users argue that this is not as efficient as it seems due to the relay structure. 

You may be wondering whether the Apple Private Relay is efficient. The best way to answer your queries is using the famous pros and cons strategy. 

Pros of Apple Private Relay

First off, this system offers an extra layer of protection. Furthermore, it is built-in, eliminating the need for another app to secure web traffic. VPNs are hectic as one must install an app or browser plug-ins to operate. This is one of the reasons why the Apple Private Relay may just be what you need to secure your internet activity. 

Cons of Apple Private Relay

iCloud Apple Private Relay suffers from geo-restrictions. Apple reported unavailability in several countries due to regulatory issues. Another downside is its minimal functionality since your ISP will still see your internet activity. The same case applies to social apps such as Twitter and Youtube.

Furthermore, while iCloud Apple Private Relay provides protection, it may not be as effective. Why? It will only provide an IP address from the same region, meaning you cannot change your location. It is designed to work on Safari and Mail, meaning if you use third-party applications, you will not be protected. 

That is not all. The Apple Private Relay does not provide traffic obfuscation. This implies that websites will know that you are using Apple’s privacy service, and some may block your IP. 

It’s clear that the Apple Private Relay suffers from many cons. Users are better suited with Apple Store proxies as they offer a higher level of protection. As for this software, Apple still has to work on various issues to rise to the same level as proxies. 


From the information above, Apple Private Relay still suffers from various shortcomings. This might be because the application is still in the beta stage and is only available for iCloud+ users. Therefore, Apple still has a long way to go to fine-tune this platform to meet the average consumer’s needs.

Do you think it is a better choice compared to proxies and VPNs? We will leave it to you to answer that question. However, if you are an iPad user seeking an extra level of protection, we would suggest sticking to the guidelines on this website to stay safe. Overall, your choice of protection will, for the most part, be influenced by your need and budget.


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