iOS 15 brought a lot of privacy related features to Apple’s mobile operating system. One of those is Mail Privacy Protection that hides your IP address from web-based content in emails. This effectively blocks tracking pixels that might be embedded in emails. This also works in tandem with iCloud Private Relay that hides your real IP address.
Unfortunately, it seems that Apple might have forgotten about the Apple Watch. According to a report from developer Mysk, they have discovered that when users view their emails and download attachments from their emails via the Apple Watch, it does not afford the same level of privacy protections as the iPhone.
Heads-up: The mail privacy protection introduced in iOS 15 doesn’t apply to the Mail app on the Apple Watch. Both the Mail app and the notification preview on the Apple Watch download remote content using your real IP address.#Cybersecurity #iOS pic.twitter.com/o0lh9rPQTd
— Mysk 🇨🇦🇩🇪 (@mysk_co) November 15, 2021
According to the tweet, when users open and download emails using the Apple Watch, or even viewing the email through notifications on the Apple Watch, it actually uses your real IP address. This means that whatever protections you might have enabled on the iPhone like Mail Privacy Protection has been bypassed.
It seems like this might be an oversight on Apple’s part. Maybe the company assumes that people don’t really check their emails on their smartwatches, or maybe they completely forgot about it. Hopefully this is something that the company will address in future watchOS updates. In the meantime, those who do check their emails on their watch, if you’re particularly concerned about tracking and privacy, there is no workaround short of disabling previews.