Privacy when browsing the internet is a huge topic that is, unfortunately, unlikely to ever be fully tackled. From advertisers who pay top dollar to track everything you do to scummy hackers who are willing to attack your (Android) device to either steal credit card information and therefore wipe your bank account clean or to bombard you with intrusive ads, you can never be too safe online.
This is where search engines like DuckDuckGo come into play.
DuckDuckGo prides itself in putting privacy first and will prevent different websites from tracking your activities as long as you are using their platform. To get started with DuckDuckGo on Android, you can either install the DuckDuckGo app from the Play Store then select the DuckDuckGo search engine to be your default browser, or open the settings tab on your Chrome or Firefox browser then under search engines, select DuckDuckGo to be the default one.
In an official announcement on their blog, DuckDuckGo has announced that they are now working on a desktop browser for Mac and Windows that would bring the same focus on avoiding being tracked to your entire web experience. The company’s CEO, Gabriel Weinberg, reiterates that the desktop browser will perform the same way its browsing app does on mobile.
Weinberg says that the desktop app will offer “robust privacy protection” by default, without a user having to toggle any hidden security settings. Just like the mobile app, the desktop browser will come with the same “Fire” button that, once clicked, instantly erases all of your browsing history, stored data and tabs.
The company has been able to achieve this by building around “OS-provided rendering engines” which reportedly creates a user interface that is neater and gets rid of any clutter that normally comes with mainstream browsers. The official blog also claims that their browser is significantly faster than Google Chrome.
Since they will be relying on rendering APIs from the operating systems, i.e. WebKit on macOS and WebView2 on Windows, they will have to build everything beyond website rendering from scratch, which includes tabs and bookmark management, navigation controls, passwords etc, which is an extremely massive undertaking. The company will not be forking an existing browser and modifying it, as some privacy browsers have done in the past.
The official blog notes that DuckDuckGo is now the most downloaded browsing app on Android in their major markets, (which is safe to assume is the USA and China) and an impressive number 2 on iOS, just behind Chrome. The browser is averaging 100 million searches a day with more than 25 million users.
The desktop browser is currently in closed beta test on macOS, but it will make its way to Windows as well in the near future. Development is currently well underway for both platforms, but there is still no official word as to when it will get a public release.
Competition to rival what Google and Microsoft are doing is always welcome and will push privacy-related matters to the forefront and ensure the safety of all users when online. Last month, we reported talks of Google being forced to offer users the freedom of choosing which search engine they would like to use. A development like this would make other search engines be in the best possible state to take advantage of users being provided with different options for their browsing needs.