Apple is ramping up its efforts to protect user privacy, including a feature in iOS 14.5 that will mask IP addresses in Safari.
Apple has been making significant changes to iOS and iPadOS, forcing app makers to include privacy labels to disclose what information they track. The company is also preparing to include a feature that will force apps to ask for permission to track users, rather than doing it automatically.
Now the company is working on its next big privacy upgrade, masking Safari’s IP address. Companies can use a device’s IP address to help build a profile of the individual’s browsing habits. Given that Apple’s default search engine is Google, this is a real concern.
First noticed by a Reddit user and reported by The 8-Bit, the feature is enabled when Safe Browsing is active. Safe Browsing is activated by turning on the “Fraudulent Website Warning” in Settings > Safari.
Maciej Stachowiak, Apple’s Head of Webkit Engineering, provided a bit of additional detail about how the feature will work.
This article is a bit confused on the details of how Safe Browsing works, but in the new iOS beta, Safari does indeed proxy the service via Apple servers to limit the risk of information leak.https://t.co/TlDZNMO8do
— Maciej Stachowiak 🇵🇱🇺🇦 (@othermaciej) February 11, 2021
As Stachowiak explains, iOS 14.5 Safari will re-route traffic through an Apple proxy service to hide IP addresses. This should provide a significant level of additional privacy to iOS and iPadOS users.