DuckDuckGo has launched its desktop browser

DuckDuckGo has launched its desktop browser

When Google launched Chrome in 2008, it immediately transformed the web. Since then, the browser has been practically unstoppable: Chrome is one of the most powerful data collection tools available to Google, as well as being the most dominant browser in the world. Sixty-three percent of people use Chrome on their phone right now, while on desktop the share rises to sixty-seven percent. ' longer. On April 12, DuckDuckGo, a company that has always paid particular attention to privacy, introduced its first desktop browser, DuckDuckGo for Mac, to the market. The application, still in beta version, arrives several years after the introduction of the company's browsers for Android and iOS, and continues its efforts to create a suite of web tools focused on privacy.

The new browser continues the company's principle of not collecting user data, explains Beah Burger-Lenehan, product manager for DuckDuckGo's Mac application: "We do not track our users - this is our privacy policy." adds.

Privacy and war on pop-ups The browser uses DuckDuckGo's private search engine by default, blocks ad trackers on every site you visit and shows how many have been blocked. It also includes a built-in option to save your passwords and the company's recently introduced email protection system, which blocks hidden trackers in email messages. “We want to make everything we build fluid, simple and easy to understand,” says Burger-Lenehan.

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Arrow The new browser also focuses on one of the internet's most annoying experiences: cookie consent pop-ups, one of the consequences of '' introduction of the GDPR, the European Union regulation on data privacy. Browser extensions can help avoid cookie pop-ups, but DuckDuckGo's browser automates the process. The first time you use the application, you are asked if you want to let the browser manage the pop-ups. If so, the application will use javascript to automatically set cookie preferences on each site visited, selecting the options to "maximize privacy". Essentially, this means that you will no longer see pop-ups on cookies. "This feature works on about fifty percent of the cookie pop-ups you might come across," says Burger-Lenehan, adding that the percentage should "significantly" increase once more users use the browser's beta. UK has been testing the DuckDuckGo desktop application for several days and, anecdotally at least, I have had to click on fewer pop-ups than usual which makes browsing a much more enjoyable experience. Currently the browser has a minimal interface, with few buttons or icons that clog the view. In terms of performance, it appears to be relatively fast. A button depicting the fire emoji - which will be familiar to users of the DuckDuckGo mobile apps - allows you to delete cookies and other data with a couple of clicks.

Room for improvement For now, the spread of the browser is limited. DuckDuckGo's Mac app has been released in beta and to access it, you need to sign up for a private waitlist through the company's mobile app. The fact that it was released in beta means that DuckDuckGo can make changes and fix bugs before the final version is released. To date, however, there still seem to be some of the most common functions of a browser. For example, there is no favorites bar that allows easy access to saved sites or folders (the company says it is working on it), and there is no way to access a detailed list of sites visited. There are several methods of accessing your browsing history, including a private feed of visited sites and an auto-complete feature that activates when you start typing the name of a site you have viewed in the past, but these methods don't seem exhaustive.

DuckDuckGo has been working on building desktop applications for some time. Burger-Lenehan says the company has been developing the Mac app for more than a year and that it began its first private tests in October 2021. Duckduckgo is also developing a browser for Windows at the same time, which is lagging behind. to the Mac version, Burger-Lenehan explains, adding that it will be available "soon".

DuckDuckGo for Mac joins Chrome's increasingly crowded rival ranks. In recent years, browsers have increased the features dedicated to privacy in their offer, focusing in particular on blocking trackers, fingerprinting and ads that "follow" users, in an attempt to differentiate themselves from the Google browser. Apple's Safari, Firefox, Vivaldi, Opera, Brave, and DuckDuckGo's mobile applications block trackers to varying degrees (although Tor is widely regarded as the most privacy-protecting browser).

Different path What perhaps distinguishing the DuckDuckGo app is the way the browser is built. The vast majority of Chrome alternatives - including Microsoft's Edge, Brave, Vivaldi, and Opera - all use, to some extent, modified versions of Google's browser codebase, Chromium, and its rendering engine, Blink. Firefox is one of the few browsers that does not use the configuration created by Google.

DuckDuckGo, on the other hand, does not rely on Chromium, but uses Apple's rendering system, WebKit, which transforms the code into the web pages that are displayed: "We wanted to have complete control over the code and the user experience," explains Burger-Lenehan, who adds that "every bit of code is owned by DuckDuckGo and was written by DuckDuckGo".

While avoiding Chromium may allow DuckDuckGo to make a slightly different product, this means more engineering work is needed. The browser cannot draw on existing extensions built with Chromium, which can help improve web search or translate from different languages. Currently, DuckDuckGo's desktop application for Mac does not support browser extensions, including the most common password managers and other third-party tools used regularly by users. Burger-Lenehan says the company is coming up with ways to allow extensions to work with the browser in the future and update mobile applications so that they are able to synchronize certain details, such as passwords, with desktop versions.

WiredLeaks, how to send us an anonymous report Unlike Brave and Firefox, which present themselves as privacy-focused alternatives to Chrome, the DuckDuckGo app doesn't offer many customizable privacy settings. The two browsers offer detailed options that allow you to adjust the levels of privacy and security. DuckDuckGo, on the other hand, has deliberately chosen to focus on simplicity, explains Burger-Lenehan.

The levels of security and privacy a user needs on the internet depend on individual exposure to threats. A human rights activist, for example, will be more likely to become a target of cybercriminals than a dog trainer. Burger-Lenehan explains that DuckDuckGo wants to create products that appeal to all users, without forcing them to change, or understand, too many settings. “We know that a large chunk of the internet population wants privacy to be simple,” says Burger-Lenehan. “We built this browser for the mainstream audience.”

This article originally appeared on UK.

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