10 privacy features iOS 15 and iPadOS 15 users need to know

Apple offers many different ways to protect your privacy while using an iPhone or iPad, but iOS 15 and iPadOS 15 add even more features designed to keep you safe. You can hide your email address, hide your internet activity, keep track of app permissions, monitor insecure passwords and much more.

To take advantage of the latest features, make sure you are running the latest OS version. Go to Settings> General> Software update. You will either be notified that your software is up to date or will be prompted to install the latest update. When it’s out of the way, you can see how to use these tools.


Protect your email activity

protect mail activity

Businesses and advertisers who send you emails may receive certain information about your activity in the Mail app. They can learn if and when you read a particular email and even determine your location. The update to iOS 15 and iPadOS 15 introduces a privacy feature called Protect Mail Activity that can stop this.

Turn this on below Settings> Mail> Privacy, and then turn on the power switch Protect Mail Activity. When enabled, your device’s IP address is hidden to mask your location. All external content from an email message is loaded privately in the background so that it cannot be used to track you.


Hide your email address

hide my email

Hide My Email allows you to sign up for apps and sites with a random email account to anonymize your identity and reduce the amount of spam sent to your actual email address. To use this feature, you need to run iOS 15 or iPadOS 15 and sign up for a paid iCloud + subscription.

Go to Settings> [your name] > iCloud> Hide my email to create a new address or use random addresses you may have already used with Apple’s older Sign in with Apple feature. The next time you need to create an account to access a website or fill out an online form, use a random address instead.

All emails generated through this account will be forwarded to your actual email address, but you can always disable the anonymous address if you start receiving spam. Return to Hide my email page, select the random address and press Disable Email Address to delete it and keep your inbox spam-free.


Hide your IP address with iCloud Private Relay

private relay

With iCloud Private Relay, your actual IP address is replaced with one from a series of anonymous addresses based on your general region as a way to hide your specific location. Because your Internet traffic is sent through two separate relays, no single device, including Apple, can view or monitor your Internet activity.

This feature is only available for iCloud + subscribers using the Safari browser. To enable iCloud Private Relay, go to Settings> [your name] > iCloud> Private Relay (beta), and then turn on the power switch Private relay (beta). Press IP address location to have the relay use your general location instead of your exact location, or an even more generalized location derived from your country and time zone.

In order for it to work, the sites you visit must fully support Private Relay. If a site does not, it may display content for the wrong region, burden you with additional login steps, or not work at all. If you encounter compatibility issues, you can disable Private Relay completely by returning to Private relay (beta) page and deactivate the same switch again.

You can also disable the feature only for certain Wi-Fi networks below Settings> Wi-Fi. Press More button next to a specific Wi-Fi network, and turn off the power switch iCloud private relay. Or go to Settings> Mobile> Mobile data settings and turn off the plug for iCloud private relay to deactivate specific mobile connections.


Track permissions for app developers

track permits

App developers can track you and send targeted ads while you use specific apps and websites. Apple introduced a new feature that will ask you if an app will track you. This can be switched on Settings> Privacy> Tracking, where to turn on Allow apps to request tracking.

When you use your apps, they may start asking for your permission before tracking your activity. Of course, apps that do not ask for your permission can still track you, but at least this option gives you a chance to fight.


Share approximate location

approximate location

If you are careful about sharing your specific location with specific services, but still need to use your device’s location services for certain features, there is a solution: Share only an approximation of that location.

You can configure this manually for individual apps below Settings> Privacy> Location services. Make sure Location services is turned on, and then swipe down to the list of apps. Tap a specific app to share your location either While using or Always. On the next screen, turn off the power switch Exact location, and the app will now only use your approximate location.


Deny access to your local network

local network access

Since the release of iOS 14 and iPadOS 14, some apps will request local network access the first time you launch them. Some apps may need such access to communicate with Bluetooth or Wi-Fi devices, but most should not.

If you launch such an app, a message will appear stating that the app wants to find and connect to devices on your local network. Press do not allow to deny access. You can also enable or disable this for each specific app from Settings> Privacy> Local area network. Turn off the switch for a specific app to deny access.


Register camera or microphone access

camera detection

Some apps will try to use your camera or microphone for specific purposes, even when they do not need that access. If you are running iOS 14, iPadOS 14 or later, you will see a visual clue at the top of the screen when using your camera or microphone.

A green dot tells you that your camera is currently activated, while a yellow dot tells you that your microphone is currently on. You can then judge for yourself whether you think your current app needs that type of access.


Restrict image access

restrict image access

Some apps will ask for access to your photo library, a reasonable request for a camera or photo editing app. However, if you have sensitive images that you want to keep private, you can restrict access to certain images only.

If you receive such a request when you launch an app, press Select Photos to select the images you want to access. To configure this for all apps, go to Settings> Privacy> Photos. Select an app, change the setting to Selected images, and then select the images that the app can access.


Discover problematic passwords

problematic passwords

Using a strong and unique password for each app and site account is a challenging task, but each weak password you use and reuse exposes you to security risks. You can see which of your passwords are potentially vulnerable, either because they are too simple or because they are used with more than one app or website.

You can check this below Settings> Passwords> Security recommendations. Make sure the switch is on Discover compromised passwords. The screen will display any risky passwords you should change.


Safari’s privacy report

privacy report

To protect your privacy, Safari will try to prevent cross-site trackers from following you. Confirm that this setting is active below Settings> Safari. Scroll down to Privacy and security section and make sure the switch for Avoid tracking across sites is on.

Now when you use Safari, you can tap AA the icon in the address bar and select Confidentiality report from the menu. The report shows you which trackers were prevented from profiling you and the percentage of sites that contacted trackers. You can also see how many trackers were stopped for each site and the names of the actual trackers that were blocked.

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