Here's how Apple's "Hide My Email" feature works

Joe Bosso 26 Jul 2021

The feature allows you to take full advantage of a company’s services without having to share your email address

We’re continuing to analyze and review the upcoming privacy features which will be included in Apple’s iOS 15 and Monterey OS, which will be released later this year. As we've previously mentioned, some features will be included free of charge and others will be part of the iCloud+ subscription plan. One of the most exciting features that will be included as part of iCloud+ is the Hide My Email feature.

Further reading:
Apple is improving privacy features, but is it enough?
Is storing a digital driver’s license on your phone a good idea?

This feature was designed to help people get around the policy that some websites have where they force you to provide an email address and sign up for an account in order to browse their site and/or use their services. Apple says that the Hide My Email feature “lets users share unique, random email addresses that forward to their personal inbox anytime they wish to keep their personal email address private.” This allows you to take full advantage of a company’s services without having to share your email address — this is important, because your email address typically serves as your unique online identifier that companies use to track your online activities. It can also be used to procure discounts that online retailers offer to new customers when they sign up for marketing materials, as you’ll be able to create an unlimited number of email addresses using this feature.

This is a wonderful functionality that puts the privacy concerns of Apple users above the needs of companies and marketers, which is very exciting to see. Apple deserves major kudos for leading the way, and it’s our hope that other tech giants will take similar steps. One downside is that it seems that you will need to use the default Safari as your browser, the Apple Mail applications, and iCloud in order to take advantage of this new feature. It is possible that you would need to create a new email address or stop using your favorite third-party email app, like Gmail or Microsoft Outlook. If you are unwilling to pay or use Apple’s native apps, then there are already some companies that offer this functionality at no charge, such as TEMPMAIL, Firefox Relay, and ProtonMail.

Potential effects on email marketing

When the new Apple privacy features are released later this year, it will be interesting to see how email marketers adapt. From what we can tell, they will have a much tougher time determining who is opening their emails, and without this type of insight, it will be more difficult for them to market to potential customers.

Email marketing was the most effective form of digital marketing for some time and continues to be a primary revenue driver for some companies, but other techniques such as online ads, social media influencers, and chatbots are gaining popularity. If technological changes by companies like Apple make email marketing less effective, this will hasten its drop. The beta version of Apple iOS 15 and Monterey is currently available to developers, so companies can test the new functionality which will be useful for marketers in planning how they can adapt. As more information around the Apple privacy features becomes available, we’ll keep you informed on how they will impact individuals and the digital marketing industry alike.