What Is iCloud+? Apple’s Cloud-Based Subscription Service Explained
iCloud has been Apple’s online service for backing up, syncing, and sharing files for a long time. However, with the release of iOS 15, Apple introduced an upgraded version of iCloud’s paid subscription called iCloud+. This new subscription includes exclusive features aimed at enhancing users’ security and privacy online. iCloud+ can be accessed from various Apple devices such as the iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, Mac, and Apple TV, and it can be shared with up to five family members.
To understand the difference between iCloud, iCloud+, and iCloud Drive, it’s important to know that iCloud is Apple’s standard online service that allows users to back up and sync photos, email, contacts, calendars, notes, reminders, messages, and other content. The basic version of iCloud offers 5GB of free online storage. On the other hand, iCloud+ is the paid upgrade available once you update to iOS 15 or iPadOS 15. It offers three different storage tiers: 50GB, 200GB, and 2TB, along with enhanced features not accessible through the free 5GB plan. iCloud Drive is the online storage site where users can store their backed up and synced content, as well as upload, download, and share files.
One of the significant additions in iCloud+ is Private Relay, which focuses on keeping users’ internet activities private and secure while using Safari. Private Relay replaces users’ IP addresses with anonymous addresses based on their general region. By routing internet traffic through two separate relays operated by different companies, including Apple, it ensures that no single entity can monitor users’ online activity.
Another feature, Hide My Email, is an improved version of Apple’s existing Sign in with Apple feature. It allows users to use an anonymous Apple ID to register with certain apps and websites. Unlike Sign in with Apple, Hide My Email enables users to use a random email address for any website or online form, reducing the risk of receiving spam.
For users who already have their own personal domain name, iCloud+ offers Custom Email Domain. This feature allows users to send and receive iCloud Mail using their own domain name instead of an icloud.com address. Users can have up to five personal domains, with each domain supporting up to three email addresses.
In addition, iCloud+ provides expanded options for users of HomeKit Secure Video. Depending on the subscription, users can get 50GB, 200GB, or 2TB of iCloud storage, along with support for recording video from one, five, or an unlimited number of HomeKit Secure Video cameras, respectively.
To upgrade to iCloud+, users can check their current subscription tier by going to Settings > [your name] > iCloud on their iPhone or iPad. If the Storage section says iCloud+, they are already on the paid plan. To upgrade, they can tap Manage Storage, then select Change Storage Plan. Users can choose from the available three plans: 50GB for 99 cents a month, 200GB for $2.99 a month, or 2TB for $9.99 a month. Selecting Upgrade to iCloud+ will activate the new plan, and iCloud+ is included with all three subscriptions.
To set up iCloud Private Relay, users can go to Settings > [your name] > iCloud > Private Relay (Beta) and turn on the switch next to it. They can then choose the IP Address Location option, either maintaining a general location or selecting a broader location based on their country and time zone. Private Relay works seamlessly with supported websites, but users may encounter issues with sites that do not support it. To troubleshoot or disable Private Relay, users can go to Settings > [your name] > iCloud > Private Relay (Beta).
For Hide My Email, users can access the feature by going to Settings > [your name] > iCloud > Hide My Email. From there, they can select an existing random address or create a new one. The random email address will forward emails to the user’s actual address. If users want to deactivate an address, they can go back to the Hide My Email settings and select the address to deactivate it.
To set up a custom email domain, users can go to the iCloud settings and select the Manage button under Custom Email Domain. They will be prompted to choose whether they want to use the domain for themselves or their entire family. After entering the domain name and following the required steps, users need to update the records with their domain registrar to ensure that the domain and email addresses are set up with iCloud Mail.
Finally, users can share their iCloud+ subscription and benefits with family members. By going to Settings > [your name] > iCloud > Manage Storage > Share with Family on their iPhone or iPad, users can tap Share Storage Plan and send an invitation to their family members. As each member accepts the invitation, they will be added to the iCloud family.
In conclusion, iCloud+ is Apple’s upgraded subscription service for iCloud, offering enhanced security and privacy features. With features like Private Relay, Hide My Email, Custom Email Domain, and expanded options for HomeKit Secure Video, iCloud+ provides users with more control over their online activities and data. Users can upgrade their iCloud plan, enable specific features, and set up custom domains or share their subscription with family members through the iCloud settings on their Apple devices.