The privacy-focused DuckDuckGo web browser is now available as an open beta download for all Mac users. It’s still about keeping your personal information private, but it also comes with some intriguing new features.
For several months, the company has been constantly working on the desktop version of the DuckDuckGo browser. Originally desktop browser launched as closed beta in April (opens in a new tab)and in appearance, everything that was present then is in this new version. This includes things like “multiple layers of protection against external trackers”, according to the announcement (opens in a new tab). The new features focus on increasing the user experience by removing annoying ads in particular on YouTube. The developers also added some basic browser features that were missing in the first beta, such as the bookmarks bar and pinned tabs.
You can install a browser on your Mac by going to DuckDuckGo website (opens in a new tab) where the download should start automatically. After installation, you can import your bookmarks and passwords from other browsers and password managers. The unfinished version of Windows is currently only available to DuckDuckGo’s “friends and family”. The company announced that it expects a private beta for PC in the coming months.
Old and new functions
Before we move on to the new one, let’s briefly discuss the recurring features.
The aforementioned protective layers protect users from online tracking software by stopping companies from placing a unique identifier (known as fingerprints) on you as a way to track you online. Cookies are also pushed back to ensure complete privacy. Refund is a Smarter Encryption tool that encrypts your internet connection and Fire button (opens in a new tab). The latter is pretty cool as it completely removes all traces of your browsing sessions from open tabs, caches, permissions, and back button history. But you also have the option of a “fireproof” website to save its data before mass deletion.
Among the new tools, one of our favorites is Duck Player, which in particular stops advertising and tracking cookies from YouTube videos. If the ad is not tracking people, it will play as normal. But as it turns out, the vast majority of ads in YouTube videos are tracking people, so according to DuckDuckGo, most will disappear. A company representative told us that Duck Player only works on YouTube and “will not work with other services at the moment.”
DuckDuckGo has also tweaked its ad blocker to remove any gaps left by ads for a much cleaner look. In the coming weeks, the browser will add Bitwarden support, allowing users to integrate a password manager for added protection.
The company asks for feedback on how it can improve the browser. You can send the developers your thoughts by clicking on the three dots below the fire button. There you will find the Send Feedback tool.
A suffocating industry
In the announcement, DuckDuckGo briefly mentions how other browsers have poor tracking protection. It also refers to recent incognito messages in Google Chrome are not very private. Developers at Google even joke that it’s lame, and that raises an interesting question about the integrity of online privacy protection. Are browser makers really that concerned about privacy?
DuckDuckGo isn’t the only browser that focuses on privacy. Mozilla Firefox and Opera have moved privacy closer to the center of their development efforts in recent years. But according to the latest data, privacy-oriented browsers have difficulty connecting with users. Mozilla goes so far as to accuse tech giants such as Apple and Microsoft of “abusing their privileged position” by making it difficult for users to switch browsers.
Until DuckDuckGo is launched on your Mac, there are other ways to increase your online privacy. Be sure to check it out List of TechRadar’s Best Privacy Protection Tools for 2022 to find out what they can do to protect you.