Warp looks and acts much like a VPN, encrypting traffic from the client to the edge of Cloudflare’s content delivery network (CDN). It uses the company’s 126.96.36.199 DNS service to accelerate requests and leverages Cloudflare’s global CDN to deliver content faster than a normal DNS service might. Last April, Cloudflare announced the beta of Warp for iOS and Android as a feature of the 188.8.131.52 app, but the rollout ran into a long backlog of people sitting on the waiting list for several months.
“We always wanted to build a WARP client for macOS and Windows. We started with mobile because it was the hardest challenge. And it turned out to be a lot harder than we anticipated. While we announced the beta of 184.108.40.206 with WARP on April 1, 2019 it took us until late September before we were able to open it up to general availability. We don't expect the wait for macOS and Windows WARP to be nearly as long,” Cloudflare CEO Matthew Prince said.
On Windows and macOS, as on mobile devices, the Warp client uses the WireGuard VPN protocol to secure the traffic from the client to the Cloudflare network. WireGuard’s protocol is designed to be faster and more lightweight than traditional VPN protocols, contributing to the goal of speeding up connections and DNS requests. Warp is not, strictly speaking, a VPN in the vein of products such as PulseSecure or AnyConnect but it provides many of the same features and benefits for users.
“This doesn't just apply to your web browser but to all apps running on your phone. Any unencrypted connections are encrypted automatically and by default. Warp respects end-to-end encryption and doesn’t require you to install a root certificate or give Cloudflare any way to see any encrypted Internet traffic we wouldn’t have otherwise,” Matthew Prince, CEO of Cloudflare, said in a post announcing the original release of Warp for mobie.
After the initial beta period for Warp on macOS and Windows, Cloudflare will roll out support for its Warp+ service, which provides a higher level of speed.
“We plan to add WARP+ support in the coming months to allow you to leverage Cloudflare's Argo network for even faster Internet performance. We will provide a plan option for existing WARP+ subscribers to add additional devices at a discount. In the meantime, existing WARP+ users will be among the first to be invited to try WARP for macOS and Windows,” Prince said.
The basic Warp service for both mobile and desktop platforms is free, but there’s a subscription fee for the Warp+ tier of service. Cloudflare plans to develop a client for Linux in the coming months, as well.