If you’ve ever watched an Apple launch event, you’ll have heard Tim Cook or one of the other execs talk about privacy. You could argue that it’s one of the key pillars of what Apple offers: a hardware and software ecosystem that it controls tightly and which – if you believe the rhetoric – puts customers’ privacy front and centre.
The meteoric rise of VPNs over the past few years has been a good thing. Protecting your privacy online is essential these days, and a VPN is the most effective way to do that. They’re cheap, too, and there are even free options if you don’t want to pay for one.
But there’s a problem. For most people, VPNs are still a mystery and there are way too many to choose between, all offering a slightly different service.
Some of the security companies are now bundling VPNs with antivirus, which is also a good thing, but none of the big four – Apple, Microsoft, Google and Amazon – have yet jumped on the VPN bandwagon and made the technology mainstream.
Google won’t, for what should be entirely obvious reasons, and it’s unlikely we’ll see anything from Amazon. It wouldn’t be a massive surprise if Microsoft decided to offer something alongside Windows Defender down the line. Apple, though, is surely going to be the first to launch a VPN.
Digitimes reported recently that the company has been buying a lot of server hardware this year and, while it’s pure speculation, that could well be for a new service of some kind. Maybe a VPN, maybe not.
A VPN from Apple might not demystify the technology – it doesn’t need to – but it would make it simple for millions of iPhone, iPad and Mac users to press a button to sign up for a subscription (just like iCloud) and get that online privacy without having to think any deeper about it.
Apple is a brand people trust, and the same can’t be said for almost all of the VPN services you could sign up to right now: they’re not yet household names. Not even NordVPN.
If the past decade has taught us anything about how Apple works, it’s that it isn’t a company that needs to be first to market. We’ll have to wait and see what it’s going to do with all those new servers, but if it does launch a VPN service, that privacy box will be even more firmly ticked.
There’s an Apple launch event on 15 September, and here’s how to watch.