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Original poster
Apr 12, 2001
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With iOS 18, iPadOS 18, and macOS Sequoia, Apple has replaced the Private Wi-Fi Address option for Wi-Fi networks with a new Rotate Wi-Fi Address option that's aimed at better minimizing tracking.

rotate-wifi-address-ios-18.jpg

Available when accessing the settings of any Wi-Fi network, Apple says the opt-in Rotate Wi-Fi Address feature changes your Wi-Fi address at random times.
A rotating Wi-Fi address helps reduce tracking by changing your Wi-Fi address at various times. Tracking can happen when your address always appears the same to other devices and people using the same network as you.
The prior Private Wi-Fi Address setting assigned a different MAC address to a device for each Wi-Fi network it connected to.

Rotate Wi-Fi Address, like Private Wi-Fi Address, is separate from the additional Limit IP Address Tracking option that can be turned on for Mail and Safari.

Article Link: iOS 18 and macOS Sequoia Add 'Rotate Wi-Fi Address' Option to Cut Down on Tracking
 

jimsong

macrumors member
Feb 19, 2010
40
63
This is great for being on a public network but it makes identifying which devices are connected to my home network much more challenging. It would be nice if you could specify private networks where this rotation would not happen.

EDIT: never mind, it looks like this is configurable on a per-network basis, which would be great news!
 

dcjames

macrumors newbie
Nov 19, 2009
7
44
Users will really need to be careful when using this feature on metered/temporary access networks where one purchases wifi access per-device (I have been on ferries around Greece that do this). If a user enables this feature for such a network, and iOS changes the MAC Address seen by the network during the middle of the session, the device will no longer be recognized and the user would have to re-purchase access every time the MAC is rotated.
 

Apleeseed84

macrumors 6502a
Oct 22, 2020
767
543
Users will really need to be careful when using this feature on metered/temporary access networks where one purchases wifi access per-device (I have been on ferries around Greece that do this). If a user enables this feature for such a network, and iOS changes the MAC Address seen by the network during the middle of the session, the device will no longer be recognized and the user would have to re-purchase access every time the MAC is rotated.
Yeah, I’m not looking forward to that either, I already get annoyed when I have to change my location settings all the time
 
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jchurchill

macrumors member
Feb 15, 2021
58
69
I used to randomly change my MAC address all the time via a shell command until the T2 chip took away that ability. Bringing it back is great, but it needs to be static for certain networks. Getting registered on my corporate network, for example, is very annoying (email approval process), but it remembers the device for a year based on the MAC. Change your MAC, have to register the device all over again. I believe Starbucks Wifi also remembers you by MAC and lets you on without re-registering.
 

StuBeck

macrumors 6502a
May 6, 2008
830
1,266
I really dislike how they're making up terms here. I know why they're doing it, anyone without networking knowledge would be confused why their iPhone had a MAC address, but I feel they could have used a better term than something which is typically associated with a different layer on the ios model...but I guess that's not really their concern here.

I just hope they handle this in a reasonable timeframe, as I'm not looking forward to clients turning this on and having each device take up 8 IP addresses a day when they'd usually using 1.
 

macduke

macrumors G5
Jun 27, 2007
13,269
19,999
So is this getting rid of the MAC Address capability, and just rotating the IP address? Because if so idk if that seems any better, probably worse, I’m probably just misunderstanding. Things are always so confusing on announcement day.
 

ArtOfWarfare

macrumors G3
Nov 26, 2007
9,579
6,089
This sounds like privacy theater to me.

Apple really wants people to think that they care about their privacy and they're doing everything they can to thwart Google, Facebook, and other ad companies from tracking them.

But this does absolutely nothing to impair them. They never knew the IP address of your iPhone, because your iPhone doesn't connect directly to their servers. They only get the IP address of the router that your iPhone is connected to, plus all your cookies and anything else they shove into local storage.

Maybe this impairs the ability of whoever is running the wifi you're on from tracking you... but not really. They'd see your phone disconnect at the same time as an identical phone connects... seems pretty easy to put one and one together and identify it as a iPhone that just rotated its IP address. Plus they still have the hostnames/IPs/ports you're connecting to, even if everything is over SSL... so that seems like a lot to use to come up with a unique fingerprint. Or if everything is over a VPN, that seems like an even easier fingerprint (what're the odds that somebody else is also using the same VPN?)
 

Chungry

macrumors member
Jun 10, 2024
80
104
So is this getting rid of the MAC Address capability, and just rotating the IP address? Because if so idk if that seems any better, probably worse, I’m probably just misunderstanding. Things are always so confusing on announcement day.
Cycling a random MAC more frequently than just every time the phone connects to an SSID.

Gotta say, as a network admin this is an interesting feature but I’m hesitant because of all the knock-on effects that could happen with MAC-based reservations in many home network setups. Not to mention the way it might interfere with Zero Trust implementations like ClearPass. I guess it all depends on if it’s off by default (conservative choice) or on by default (safer but potentially problematic choice). It should be opt-in but I guess we shall see. I’m not on the beta yet
 
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