In context: Although some cellular providers don’t like Apple’s idea of using a VNP-like private browsing feature called iCloud Private Relay, they claim they’re not responsible for blocking it for some users. After looking into the matter, the Cupertino developers have quietly made changes to the iOS 15.3 beta and their support pages to clarify possible causes for the crash.
Wednesday, Apple published iOS 15.3 in beta with a slight rewording of its iCloud Private Relay warning. Private Relay is an encryption feature for paid iCloud subscribers that hides their IP address and hides their browser activity so that even Apple can’t see it.
Earlier this month, some users were getting an error that their mobile provider was blocking the feature from being used.
“Private Relay is disabled for your cellular plan. Your cellular plan does not support iCloud private passthrough. With iCloud Private Relay disabled, this network can monitor your Internet activity and your IP address is not hidden from known trackers or websites. “
Although carriers like Vodafone, Orange, T-Mobile and Telefonica opposed Private Relay and lobbied for regulators to block it in Europe just days ago, mobile providers have denied that they were blocking functionality. In fact, T-Mobile told Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman that it identified the error as stemming from it being disabled by default in iOS, not T-Mobile blocking it.
T-Mobile: “Overnight, our team identified that in iOS version 15.2, some device settings are disabled by default. We have shared this with Apple. This is not specific to T-Mobile. Again though, we haven’t largely blocked iCloud Private”
—Mark Gurman (@markgurman) January 11, 2022
He shared this information with Apple, and as of Wednesday, the error message has changed to read:
“Private Relay is disabled for your cellular plan. Private relay is not supported by your cellular plan or has been disabled in cellular settings. When Private Relay is disabled, this network can monitor your internet activity and your IP address is not hidden from known trackers or websites.”
Apple’s support pages too indicate that the error can occur if one or more settings are disabled. The first is the main Private Relay (Beta) toggle in the iCloud menu. The second and third are found in Settings > Cellular > Cellular Data Options & Settings > Wi-Fi > More Info. Private Relay must also be enabled in these settings.
Even with all the switches enabled, Apple says it’s still possible to encounter websites, networks, or services that aren’t compatible with Private Relay, which could trigger the error. Users can temporarily disable the private relay to avoid the message in these situations. Users can also disable the feature for individual networks.