DuckDuckGo’s privacy-focused web browser is now available for download via an open beta for all Mac users. It’s still about keeping your personal data private, but some intriguing new features are also mixed in.
Over the past few months, the company has been steadily working on a desktop version of the DuckDuckGo browser. Originally, the desktop browser launched as closed beta in April (opens in a new tab), and apparently, everything that was present then is in this new version. This includes things like “multiple layers of defense against third party trackers”, according to the announcement (opens in a new tab). The new features are focused on improving the user experience by eliminating annoying ads on YouTube, in particular. The developers also added some basic browser features that were missing in the first beta such as a bookmark bar and pinned tabs.
You can install the browser on your Mac by going to DuckDuckGo website (opens in a new tab) where the download should start automatically. Upon installation, you can import your bookmarks and passwords from other browsers and password managers. A version of Windows under development is currently only available to “friends and family” of DuckDuckGo. The company said it expects a private beta for PC in the coming months.
Old and new features
Before we get into the new, let’s briefly review the returning features.
The layers of defense mentioned earlier protect users from online tracking software by preventing companies from placing a unique identifier on you (known as fingerprinting) as a way to follow you on the internet. Cookies are also rejected to ensure total privacy. Returns are the Smarter Encryption tool, which encrypts your internet connection, and the Fire button (opens in a new tab). The latter is quite interesting as it completely erases all traces of a browsing session from open tabs, cache, permissions, and back button history. But you also have the option of making a website “fireproof” to save its data from mass deletion.
Among the new tools, one of our favorites is Duck Player which specifically blocks ads and cookies that track users from YouTube videos. If an ad doesn’t track people, it will play normally. But as it turns out, the vast majority of ads on YouTube videos track people, so most will go away, according to DuckDuckGo. A company rep told us that Duck Player only works on YouTube and “won’t work with other services right now”.
DuckDuckGo has also tweaked its ad blocker to erase gaps left by ads for a much cleaner look. And in the coming weeks, the browser will add support for Bitwarden, allowing users to integrate the password manager for added protection.
The company is asking for feedback on how it can improve the browser. You can send the developers your thoughts by clicking on the three dots under the fire button. There you will find the Send Feedback tool.
In the announcement, DuckDuckGo briefly mentions how other browsers have lackluster tracking protection. It also alludes to Recent news regarding the incognito mode on Google Chrome is not very private. Google’s developers also joke that it’s shoddy and this raises an interesting question about the integrity of online privacy protection. Are browser developers really that interested in privacy?
DuckDuckGo isn’t the only browser that focuses on privacy. Mozilla Firefox and Opera have moved privacy to the center of their development efforts in recent years. But according to recent data, privacy-focused browsers are having a hard time gaining ground with users. Mozilla goes so far as to accuse tech giants like Apple and Microsoft of “abusing their privileged position” by making it difficult for users to switch browsers.
Until the launch of DuckDuckGo on Mac, there are other ways to increase online privacy. Be sure to check TechRadar’s best list of privacy tools for 2022 to know what they can do to protect you.