With iCloud Plus, Apple’s privacy promise is paired with an upsell - The Verge
Jun 10, 2021 1 min, 40 secs
But this promise has shifted very subtly in the wake of this week’s iCloud Plus announcement, which for the first time bundled new security protections into a paid subscription service.

With the new Private Relay and Hide My Mail features, however, iCloud Plus is expanding its remit from a storage-based service into a storage and privacy service.

The privacy-focused additions are minor in the grand scheme of the protections Apple offers across its ecosystem, and Apple isn’t using them as justification for increasing the cost of iCloud.

The features appear as an admission from Apple about the limits of what privacy protections can do on-device.

Apple says Private Relay won’t impact performance, which can be a concern with these other services.

In addition to Private Relay, iCloud Plus also includes Hide my Email, a feature designed to protect the privacy of your email address.

Apple might be charging for Private Relay and Hide My Email by bundling them into iCloud subscriptions, but these iCloud Plus additions are still dwarfed by the array of privacy protections already built into Apple’s hardware and software.

This includes a new Mail Privacy Protection feature in the Mail app in iOS 15, which sends your emails through a relay service to confuse any tracking pixels that might be hiding in them (read more about tracking pixels here).

But with iCloud Plus, Apple now offers two privacy protections that are distinct from those that are included for free with the purchase of a device, and the division between the two seems arbitrary to some extent.

Apple justifies charging for features like Private Relay and Hide My Email because of the incremental costs of running those services, but Mail Privacy Protection also relies on a relay server, which presumably isn’t free to run.

Regardless of its rationale, choosing to charge for these services means that Apple has opened the door to premium privacy features becoming part of its increasingly important services business, beyond just its hardware business

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