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Tech Support: Top three privacy features in iOS 15

Yahoo Finance’s Dan Howley joins the Yahoo Finance Live panel with today’s Tech Support: Top three privacy features in iPhone iOS 15.

Video Transcript


ZACK GUZMAN: In [INAUDIBLE] tech support, if you've got an iPhone, listen up, because, finally, after much wait and anticipation, Apple's iOS 15, their latest operating system for their mobile phones, finally out. And it marks a pretty marked note in stepping up privacy when it comes to what Apple's been putting their effort behind. For more on all the changes there, happy to bring on Yahoo Finance's tech editor Dan Howley to break it all down for us. Dan.

DAN HOWLEY: That's right, Zack. Apple has really kind of made its bones lately about its privacy and its ability to secure what you do on your iPhone. They have plenty of ads that show that and that what happens on your iPhone stays on your iPhone and kind of needled its competition. And now it's putting its money where its mouth is to an even greater degree with a few updates in iOS 15.

Now, if you don't have it, you can upgrade to iOS 15 through the Settings app on your phone. If you have automatic updates installed, it will do that right away. And if you have an iPhone 13, it will have it right out of the box. But there's a few things I want to talk about here.

The first is one of these features called Record App Activity. And essentially, what that's going to do is allow you to see who is using your sensors on your phone. So you have an accelerometer. You have your camera, your microphone, different features on your device that different apps may use. And yes, you've given them permission to do that because of the default that Apple has for its settings. But that doesn't mean you always want them to have access.

So what you can do is go in to the Settings app. There's going to be a feature called Privacy. And then you will be able to see exactly what those apps are using and what websites they're sending your information to. And if you don't like that, you can go in there and you can turn that ability for those apps off. So it's a really helpful feature.

One of the other ones that I want to talk about is Mail Privacy Protection. And this is something where you can use the default Mail app on your phone. This doesn't work with Gmail, so let's just be clear about that. It is the default native Mail app on your iPhone. And essentially, what it will do is, it will prevent email marketers from knowing that you're opening up their emails.

Now, there's a little invisible image or a pixel, really, in an email that once you open it, the email itself, that pixel or image will send back a notification to the sender, saying that you've opened it and when you've opened it, where you're located based on your IP address, and things along those lines. And basically, that's meant to send you other marketing information or set you up with ads from other sites.

Now what this does, though, is it sends-- it automatically downloads those little images or little pixels as soon as you get the email. So the marketer doesn't know exactly when you opened it because of that. And it also sends your information through a series of proxy servers. And that hides your IP address. This way, they don't know exactly where you're located. You can also adjust that to have it in a general area where you're located in case you want to get information for your local area. But it's not going to tell them exactly where you are. And again, this works on the default native app. And you can set this up in the Mail settings within the actual Settings app on the iPhone.

And then finally, the big thing that Apple has launched is iCloud Private Relay. Now this comes with iCloud Plus. It's really the paid version of iCloud that you have before. I pay $0.99 for 50 gigabytes a month. And that gets me iCloud Plus. So it's not like you have to spend, like, 10, 20 bucks. It's $0.99. And what it does is it protects your activity online. And essentially, what it'll do is, it'll work as sort of a virtual private network, but not exactly. It sends your information over the web encrypted and then pushes it through two different proxy servers.

And really, what that does is it ensures that nobody can see what you're doing, not even Apple, not your internet service provider. And that's important if you're doing things like connecting to the Wi-Fi at Starbucks or even in your hotel, where people can get online, and if they're skilled enough, they can see exactly what you're doing. So they would theoretically be able to see you punch in your email account and password or your banking account and password or anything that you send over that network.

Now with this enabled, they wouldn't be able to do any of that. It is part of iCloud Plus. As I said, $0.99 a month. The only caveat here is that it only works with the Safari browser. So if you use Chrome, if you use Microsoft Edge, you're not going to be able to take advantage of this. You have to specifically use Safari. So that's an annoyance.

But look, it is there. It's built in. And since it's Apple, you can realistically trust them to the extent that you can trust any tech company. But you could trust them more so than you would any kind of fly by night VPN that you may find online. So it really is a great feature. And these are all included in iOS 15. I think if you're really interested in privacy, you're really interested in protecting your security online, these are things that you should enable right away.

ZACK GUZMAN: Dan Howley bringing us the latest there on iOS 15, all the opportunities there to improve the way we use our phones now out. Appreciate that.