Apple confirmed that it is using Google’s cloud storage service to store iCloud user data in a security document acknowledging that the Cupertino company is paying the search engine giant, among other third-party companies, for access to their cloud infrastructure.
Apple disclosed the information in its latest iOS Security Guide (PDF), updated in January. For years the document contained language indicating that iCloud services were relying on remote data storage systems from Amazon Web Services, as well as Microsoft’s Azure. In the latest version, the Microsoft Azure reference is gone, and in its place is Google Cloud Platform.
It was first suggested back in 2016 that Apple would be bringing Google into the mix, but this update – spotted by CNBC – is the first official confirmation. At the time, Apple was looking to transition away from Amazon Web Services to Google’s cloud platforms, and that the deal was worth between $400 and $600 million USD.
“The latest update doesn’t indicate whether Apple is using any Google cloud services other than core storage of ‘objects’ like photos and videos,” reads the report. “The document also doesn’t make it clear when Apple started storing data in Google’s cloud. Apple and Microsoft didn’t respond to requests for comment.”
iCloud stores a user’s contacts, calendars, photos, documents, and more, and since each file is broken into chunks and encrypted with AES-128 and SHA-256 keys, storage on Google Cloud Platform isn’t a security concern for users.
According to the report, Apple’s use of third-party cloud infrastructure is likely to be a temporary situation, as Apple is working to increase the number of data centres it operates around the world, including brand-new centres in Ireland, Denmark, and the United States.