Private Wi-Fi addresses: Random MAC addresses on iOS 14, iPadOS 14 and watchOS 7

In order to further expand the privacy of users, Apple is making it possible with the upcoming mobile operating system to use regularly changing MAC addresses in WiFi networks. Under iOS 14, iPadOS 14 and Watch 7 On the iPhone, iPod touch, iPad and Apple Watch, the risk of individual users creating a movement or usage profile in public networks can be contained. Whether WiFi in the city, open network of individual facilities such as cafés and banks or the Internet in the hotel - with the random MAC addresses you can ensure that you are a bit more anonymous in the respective network.

Are you using public WiFi networks? From iOS 14, iPadOS 14 and watchOS 7 you can use random MAC addresses to enjoy more privacy. Here you can find the instructions for activation on the iPhone and iPad as well as on the Apple Watch.

Are you using public WiFi networks? From iOS 14, iPadOS 14 and watchOS 7 you can use random MAC addresses to enjoy more privacy. Here you can find the instructions for activation on the iPhone and iPad as well as on the Apple Watch.

Instructions: Activate private Wi-Fi addresses on iPad, iPod touch and iPhone

Using the random and regularly changing device address on the iPhone, iPod touch or iPad from Apple is not difficult at all. So if you go to a public or somehow foreign WLAN network, you can prevent the possible creation of a movement or usage profile in this way:

  1. Open the on your device Settings
  2. Then you type the point Wifi an
  3. Then tap on the circled “i” next to a network
  4. Activates the slider at Use private address (may be called differently)
  5. In case the network without a random MAC address is used, a privacy notice explains why
Image source: Apple.com

Image source: Apple.com

By the way, the settings will only be applied the next time you access the selected network. If you want them to grab right away, just use that control centerto turn Wi-Fi off and on again. By the way, you should make sure that you do not use the function at home, especially when using certain smart home elements and similar networks. Because fixed MAC addresses can help with the assignment of devices in the network / smart home. A constant change will probably throw the iPhone or iPad out.

Instructions: Activate the private Wi-Fi address on the Apple Watch

The Smartwatch from Cupertino also only takes a few steps to activate the new function. From autumn 2020 you can use the randomly assigned MAC IDs under watchOS 7 by taking these precautions:

  1. Opens the Settings your Apple Watch
  2. Tap on the network in use or swipe left on an unused network to tap on the three dots
  3. Then you can use the controller at Private MAC (may be called differently)
Image source: Apple.com

Image source: Apple.com

What actually is a MAC address?

In this case, the abbreviation MAC has nothing to do with the Apple computer (Mac). Rather, it stands for "Media Access Control" and represents the hardware address of a device in a network. It therefore identifies your device (smartphone, tablet, smartwatch, computer, etc.) in a network, in WLAN or the like. Other names are “physical address” and “device address”. Under Windows you can still find the term “physical address”, while Apple also uses the terms “Ethernet ID” and “Airport ID” in addition to the “Wi-Fi address” already used above. In contrast to this, the IP address is a logical assignment that is device-independent and is used for data exchange on the Internet.

Note: The function shown will only come to your devices with beta versions of the operating systems mentioned or with the official versions that will appear in autumn via update. Now (July 2020) you won't find it on iOS 13, iPadOS 13 and watchOS 6 yet. Further details can be found in the support document HT211227.

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2 comments

  1. Ulli says:

    Hello Sir Apfelot,

    the private addresses have an unpleasant side effect. I'll copy my post from a Slack for you so I don't have to rewrite:

    "In the new iOS version 14, Apple is introducing a new security feature: the protection of the unchanging MAC addresses of various devices. Basically a great thing, because the creation of a movement profile is restricted based on the MAC address of the iDevice In the current beta phase, this setting is permanently activated.)

    However, if this setting is not really constantly checked / changed, this leads to the fact that every time the status is activated in the private, familiar home WLAN, registrations are constantly generated by a "new" device and innumerable internal IP addresses are assigned to lead. (see SC from FRITZ! Box 7490, FW 7.12)

    Info:
    https://www.macwelt.de/tipps/Apple-gibt-Tipps-zu-WLAN-Nutzung-mit-zufaelligen-MAC-Adressen-ab-iOS-14-10845369.html
    https://support.apple.com/de-de/HT211227"

    Here are the screenshots:

    https://www.magentacloud.de/lnk/5lAqjoTd
    https://www.magentacloud.de/lnk/L3AKjOPL

    Please check your private router to see how this works for you.

    Regards
    Ulli

    • sir appleot says:

      Hello Ulli! Thank you for your hint. I also have a Fritz! Box, but not yet a device with the iOS 14 beta. For this reason I have no practical experience with it. I hope, however, that the feature can also be deactivated. I am curious to see if AVM will come up with something ... maybe they can set up a little software in the router to prevent this constant reassignment.

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