With iOS 15, Apple is taking a giant step and adding useful add-ons to protect user privacy. Security advancements and other added features in the iOS 15 further confirm the company’s commitment to securing user data from third-party advertisers and malicious sites. Read along to learn all the new privacy features in iOS 15 and iPadOS 15.
All the New Privacy Features in iOS 15 and iPadOS 15
Some of the features in the list below are a part of the iCloud+ subscription. You need to purchase an iCloud storage plan to enjoy the major privacy features integrated into iOS 15 and iPadOS 15.
1. Hide My Email
With the iOS 14 update last year, Apple integrated the Sign in with Apple add-on to hide your original email ID when signing up for apps on the iPhone. In iOS 15, Apple is further building on this feature with the Hide My Email feature. Users will be able to generate temporary email IDs across websites and online forums.
This is a lifesaver when you are dealing with multiple websites and online accounts in a day. You no longer need to give away your original email ID to a random website.
Open the Settings app on your iPhone or iPad and go to Profile > iCloud > Hide My Email. Here, you can create a new address and see the existing ones created by Apple for third-party apps and websites. You can tap on any email address and enable the Forward to original email address toggle.
That way, you can get all the incoming emails from the dummy email to your prime email address.
Hide My Email addition is a part of the iCloud+ subscription. Those on a free iCloud storage plan won’t get the feature.
2. iCloud Private Relay
iCloud Private Relay is Apple’s biggest assault on advertisers and trackers. The service hides your IP address and Safari browsing activity from network providers and websites so that no one — including Apple can see who you are, where you are, or what sites you are visiting.
The service protects your web traffic from prying eyes and spammers. Private Relay hides data from both the ISP and advertisers that aim to build your online profile.
In theory, iCloud Private Relay sounds a lot like an Apple-branded VPN service but dig deeper, and you will find all the differences between iCloud Private Relay and a traditional VPN like ExpressVPN or NordVPN.
Check out our explainer on iCloud Private Relay and learn how it works and how it differentiates itself from VPN apps on the iPhone.
iCloud Private Realy is built right into iOS, iPadOS, and macOS. It will only work if you are an iCloud+ subscriber and you have it enabled from within your iCloud settings.
Apart from iCloud Private Relay, Safari gets plenty of other new improvements in iOS 15.
3. Turn off iCloud Private Relay for Specific Networks
iCloud Private Relay is enabled for the iCloud+ users in iOS 15. Since the data is transmitted through an Apple-branded server, you might notice slow internet speeds while browsing the web.
Thankfully, Apple offers an option to toggle off iCloud Private Relay for a specific Wi-Fi connection or a mobile network.
If you use Google Chrome or Microsoft Edge as the default browser on your iPhone or iPad, iCloud Private Relay’s security protocols won’t apply to non-Safari browsers. In such cases, you should disable the toggle from the Wi-Fi or the Mobile Data menu.
4. Hide IP Address from All Websites
Not everyone subscribes to the iCloud paid plan on the iPhone. Those using a free iCloud storage plan can use this neat trick to hide their IP address while browsing using Safari.
Open the Settings app on the iPhone, go to Safari > Privacy & Security > Hide IP Address, and select Trackers and Websites from the following menu.
5. App Privacy Report
With iOS 14, Apple integrated Privacy Report in Safari. Now the company is adding a system-wide App Privacy Report on the iPhone. Users can see how often each app has used the permission they’ve previously granted to access their location, photos, camera, microphone, and contacts during the past seven days.
Users can also check whether this makes sense to them and take action by going to the app in Settings if it doesn’t.
6. Protect Mail Activity
Mail Privacy Protection works by hiding your IP address and loading remote content privately in the background, even when you don’t open the message.
The practice makes it harder for senders to follow your Mail activity. Publishers and Newsletters rely on this behavior to see when you open an email and your location via the IP address. The aim is to improve the overall offering by them to the readers via email.
However, some spammers and advertisers might use it in the wrong way. They put invisible tracking pixels. Tracking pixels are hidden graphics that you might not see in an email, but your email client loads them, allowing senders to gather data from you. Senders can see that you’ve opened an email and get other information, such as your IP address.
With iOS 15, users can enable Protect Mail Activity from Settings > Mail > Messages > Privacy Protection menu.
As expected, this one only works with the default Mail app and not Gmail or Outlook on the iPhone.
7. On Device Siri
Siri is getting smarter with the iOS 15 update. Before iOS 15, Siri sent every query to the Apple server and then replied with relevant answers.
Now Siri works offline, and it can give quick answers without sending data to Apple servers. It is only limited to basic tasks such as setting up alarms, reminders, etc. Nevertheless, it’s one step close to the mighty Google Assistant.
8. Built-in Authenticator for Keychain
Apple’s default password manager iCloud Keychain is slowly catching up to rivals like 1Password and LastPass with each iOS update. The company has added an authenticator built right into the Password section.
Users can now generate verification codes needed for additional sign-in security. If a site offers two-factor authentication, you can set up verification codes under Passwords in Settings on iOS 15 – no need to download an additional app like Authy or Google Authenticator.
9. Track Your iPhone When Powered Off
This is not exactly a privacy feature but is geared more towards convenience when you lose your iPhone. When you power off the iPhone, the device will go into a Power Reserve mode that makes it perform like an AirTag.
During Power Reserve mode, your iPhone can be tracked via Find My app on other Apple devices.
This is really handy if someone steals your iPhone and turns it off. You can still track it via the Find My function from the other Apple device. What’s more? users can track the iPhone event after a factory reset.
10. Custom Health Sharing
In iOS 15, you can keep friends and family up to date on how you are doing by securely sharing your Health data. The data you share will appear in their Health app. You will also get an alert for important health metrics like elevated heart rate, etc.
It’s all built with privacy and security in mind. Apple only shares a summary of each topic and not the details. The information is encrypted, and you can stop sharing at any time.
11. Remove Person Suggestion from Memory
This is another convenience feature that helps you save embarrassment or helps you forget someone from the past.
Users can already select Suggest Fewer Memories Like This when viewing a memory in the For You section of Photos or remove a photo from photo suggestions entirely, but now you can choose to feature a specific person less often.
When viewing the For You section of the Photos app, you can long-press on a photo with a person and select the Feature a Person Less option to prevent that person from popping up as often. The Remove From Featured Photos option prevents a specific photo from reappearing.
12. Share Current Location
In iOS 15, users can easily share their current location with an app just once, without giving the developer further access after that session.
13. Unlimited Camera Support in HomeKit
iCloud+ levels up built-in support for HomeKit Secure Video so that users can connect more cameras than ever before in the Home app. The home security video footage is end-to-end encrypted, and it will not count against iCloud storage capacity. This was previously limited to five cameras.
Which one is your favorite privacy feature in iOS 15? Is iCloud+ worth subscribing for Hide My Email and iCloud Private Relay functions? Share your thoughts in the comments below.