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More than five months after announcing Warp, Cloudflare has finally made it available to the general public, yesterday. With two million people on the waitlist to try Warp, the Cloudflare team says that it took them harder than they thought to build a next-generation service to secure consumer mobile connections, without compromising on speed and power usage. Along with Warp, Cloudflare is also launching Warp Plus.

Warp is a free VPN to the DNS resolver app which will speed up mobile data using the Cloudflare network to resolve DNS queries at a faster pace. It also comes with end-to-end encryption and does not require users to install a root certificate to observe encrypted internet traffic. It is built around a UDP-based protocol that is optimized for the mobile internet and offers excellent performance and reliability.

Why Cloudflare delayed the Warp release?

A few days before Cloudflare announced Warp on April 1st, Apple released its new version iOS 12.2 with significant changes in its underlying network stack implementation. This made the Warp network unstable thus making the Cloudflare team arrange for workarounds in their networking code, which took more time.

Cloudflare adds, “We had a version of the WARP app that (kind of) worked on April 1. But, when we started to invite people from outside of Cloudflare to use it, we quickly realized that the mobile Internet around the world was far more wild and varied than we’d anticipated.” As the internet is made up of diverse network components, the Cloudflare team found it difficult to include all the diversity of mobile carriers, mobile operating systems, and mobile device models in their network.

The Cloudflare team also found it testing to include users’ diverse network settings in their network. Warp uses a technology called Anycast to route user traffic to the Cloudflare network, however, it moves the users’ data between entire data centers, which made the Warp functioning complex. 

To overcome all these barriers, the Cloudflare team has now changed its approach by focussing more on iOS. The team has also solidified the shared underpinnings of the app to ensure that it would even work with future network stack upgrades. The team has also tested Warp with network-based users to discover as many corner cases as possible. Thus, the Cloudflare team has successfully invented new technologies to keep the session state stable even with multiple mobile networks.

Cloudflare introduces Warp Plus – an unlimited version of Warp

Along with Warp, the Cloudflare team has also launched Warp Plus, an unlimited version of WARP for a monthly subscription fee. Warp Plus is faster than Warp and uses Cloudflare’s Argo Smart Routing to achieve a higher speed than Warp. The official blog post states, “Routing your traffic over our network often costs us more than if we release it directly to the internet.” To cover these costs, Warp Plus will charge a monthly fee of $4.99/month or less, depending on the user location.

The Cloudflare team also added that they will be launching a test tool within the app in a few weeks to make users “see how your device loads a set of popular sites without WARP, with WARP, and with WARP Plus.”

Read Also: Cloudflare plans to go public; files S-1 with the SEC 

To know more details about Warp Plus, read the technical post by Cloudflare team.

Privacy features offered by Warp and Warp Plus

The DNS resolver app provides strong privacy protections such as all the debug logs will be kept only long enough to ensure the security of the service. Also, Cloudflare will only retain the limited transaction data for legitimate operational and research purposes. 

Warp will not only maintain the DNS protection layers but will also ensure:

  • User’s-identifiable log data will be written to disk
  • The user’s browsing data will not be sold for advertising purposes
  • Warp will not demand any personal information (name, phone number, or email address) to use Warp or Warp Plus
  • Outside editors will regularly regulate Warp’s functioning

The Cloudflare team has also notified users that the newly available Warp will have bugs present in them. The blog post also specifies that the most popular bug currently in Warp is due to traffic misroute, which is making the Warp function slower than the speed of non-Warp mobile internet. 

Image Source: Cloudflare blog

The team has made it easier for users to report bugs as they have to just click on the little bug icon near the top of the screen on the app or shake their phone with the app open and send a bug report to Cloudflare.

Visit the Cloudflare blog for more information on Warp and Warp Plus.

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