A New Era in VPN Protection: Disconnect Premium for iOS

We are incredibly excited to announce that a completely upgraded version of our Premium VPN app for iOS is now available. This launch represents an important breakthrough for Disconnect and, we think, an historic innovation for VPN based technology. The new Premium app introduces unique on-device intelligence and SmartVPN technology that empowers users with an unprecedented amount of privacy, usability, and control over device wide tracking and encryption.

Not a traditional VPN

When we first started building VPN (Virtual Private Network) products back in early 2013 our goal was to create a VPN that everyone should use. Then and now we believe traditional VPNs, well to be blunt, sort of suck for most users. To be clear, traditional VPNs are very effective at encrypting internet traffic and allowing you to change your IP address, which makes it possible to get around IP geo-restrictions (e.g., trying to gain access to foreign websites). But if you just want to block tracking and you don't want to mask your IP to access blocked sites and services, the benefits of using a traditional VPN is likely far outweighed by the negative side effects that make even the best traditional VPNs impractical for everyday, always on use.

For starters, traditional VPNs slow down page and app load speeds because, well, physics. Instead of sending all your outgoing internet traffic directly to its destination (e.g., a website or app), traditional VPNs route and encrypt traffic through a VPN server before sending it along to its final destination, which results in latency.

Traditional VPNs also have a tendency to break things, as many sites and services actively try to detect VPNs (e.g., to prevent fraud, enforce geo-restrictions, etc.) and purposely degrade or even completely break the user experience.

Also, contrary to the marketing, traditional VPNs don't protect you from the most prevalent types of tracking. Yes VPNs change your IP address (a unique server address that is used by companies to identify you) to that of the VPN server. But trackers don't just rely on IP address to track particular users and devices. For example, tracking companies may abuse browser or device APIs to identify you. So while IP masking is great for accessing foreign content it won't stop companies from tracking your online activity.

Finally, traditional VPNs require a huge amount of trust because users typically send all their internet traffic through a VPN provider's servers. This not only requires you to trust that the VPN company isn't logging information, but also to trust that the VPN company has security and policy measures that minimize data collection and protect other companies from logging your activity.

A smarter better VPN

The SmartVPN technology at the core of our new Premium iOS app solves many of the problems caused or left unsolved by traditional VPNs. Like regular VPNs, our new app establishes an encrypted tunnel between your device and VPN servers, but instead of routing all of your traffic, our SmartVPN includes on-device intelligence and makes real-time decisions based on your protection preferences. This technology allows you to only route traffic that is especially vulnerable to privacy and security threats. In fact, by default the SmartVPN technology routes zero traffic through Disconnect's servers. This means that the default setting requires no trust in Disconnect's policies.

Data minimization

Disconnect has always been extremely committed to collecting as little of your data as possible. We go so far as to offer email-less accounts and go out of our way to never even log your IP or any unique identifiers and we never log or collect any of your internet traffic. And now selective routing eliminates the need to send all or any of your internet activity through VPN servers, as well as maximizing device performance and minimizing breakage.

That being said, we definitely understand the benefit of encrypting unsecured traffic so we also provide settings that allow users to ratchet up the amount of device traffic that is encrypted, but still gives the option of sending the minimum amount of traffic through VPN servers. For example, Premium iOS makes it easy for users to encrypt DNS lookups (here's some info on why encrypting DNS lookups matters). The Premium app does this locally by switching your device DNS to an encrypted DNS provider (Cloudflare? Google?). The new app also allows users to encrypt all unsecured HTTP traffic (read more about the importance of HTTPS). But instead of just routing all HTTP traffic through our servers, Disconnect makes every attempt to encrypt HTTP traffic on the device and only when that is not an option does HTTP get encrypted through our servers.

Full VPN with less breakage mode

And for those users who really want to route all or most traffic through VPN servers, the Premium app offers FullVPN mode with "Less breakage" mode. Just like a traditional VPN, Premium users have the ability to route all traffic through encrypted VPN servers with masked exit IPs located in five countries. Our VPN uses modern cipher suites that encrypt traffic using AES 256-bit random eliptical curve groups and key exchange that supports perfect forward secrecy (PFS).

We also offer "Less breakage" mode for full VPN users. As mentioned above routing all your internet traffic through a VPN may break certain apps or websites (like Netflix, Hulu, iTunes, or your banking app) that either block or don't play nice with VPNs. By "break" we mean prevent your device from connecting to the site or service, so you will typically see an error that your internet is not working in which case you must turn the Full VPN off if you wish to access that particular site or service. "Less breakage" mode still blocks tracking on all sites and services, but will not route or encrypt the traffic, or mask your IP, to or from sites and services on a list we display inside your app that are known to cause VPN breakage. With "Less breakage" mode you can enjoy the protections of a full VPN (encryption and IP masking) but avoid problems with sites and services that restrict VPNs.

Break less

Routing all your internet traffic in Full VPN mode may break certain apps or websites (like Netflix, Hulu, iTunes, or your banking app) that either block or don’t play nice with VPNs. By “break” we mean prevent your device from connecting to the site or service, so you will typically see an error that your internet is not working in which case you must turn the Full VPN off if you wish to access that particular site or service.

If you select “Less breakage”, Disconnect will still block tracking on all sites and services, but will not route or encrypt the traffic, or mask your IP to or from these sites and services, which we update from time to time.

Block whatever you want

Our VPN is the only app that blocks invasive tracking inside all your apps but doesn't route all your traffic. Disconnect blocks thousands of companies from collecting a huge amount of your online activity on websites and apps. The default setting blocks trackers device wide and routes no traffic through the VPN. The blocking of trackers happens locally on your device with no need to send any traffic through a VPN server.

The app ships with a level of tracking protection that Disconnect thinks is the perfect balance of privacy and usability. But privacy preferences are personal, so we put you in control and give you the power to easily block whatever you want or to activate one of our popular customizations, which ramps up the default protection to block even more tracking from companies like Google, Facebook, or fingerprinters.

Track the trackers

The new Premium app allows you to see exactly who's tracking you and what you're blocking. Also you can see your time and data savings, and more. This update gives you the ability to filter the activity you see: view blocked or allowed trackers, or every connection made to your device.

More server locations and local encryption

This update added a bunch more edge locations to the Premium app (now over 180 locations in 80+ countries!) to ensure the fastest connections to secure unencrypted traffic and protect your privacy. We also offer thousands of automatic http to https redirection rules so your device communicates as securely as possible and sends the minimum amount of traffic to external servers when you choose to encrypt HTTP traffic only.

Easiest, most powerful firewall available

Our firewall feature empowers you to block or allow any and all domains from connecting to your device with a tap or two. Now Disconnect also gives you the ability to import and export your custom rules to easily back up your personalized list of blocked domains as a json file and share your custom list across devices or with friends. This was a popular request from our users and we're excited to deliver. Just head to the Settings menu and geek out to your heart's content.

More control is now yours!

Try out the all new Disconnect Pro app for iOS and let us know what you think! Remember we never store or log any traffic routed through our servers and don’t track your IP address or any other personal info, except the info you volunteer (like if you choose to email us).

Your feedback matters!

Our team could not be more excited to launch a brand new design and major update to our iOS Premium app — the new features and user interface were a direct result of your feedback over the past few months and also include backend changes that make the app even more powerful and user friendly than before. And of course, Privacy Pro continues to offer the best FREE protection on the planet for your iOS devices.


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