For the first time Android users will be able to download the privacy-focused Tor browser from Google Play Store.
While Tor has a reputation for allowing unsavoury and criminal activities to be performed anonymously, this is just a small part of its appeal. On the positive side it has been the go-to browser for activists, journalists and those who just don’t like the idea of being monitored.
For us ordinary users Tor’s big selling point is it grants complete anonymity. Tor allows users to browse the net anonymously by hiding their IP addresses and identity. It does this by decentralising traffic information across a network of servers which are triple-encrypted.
This anonymity is, of course, essential if you’re living under oppressive regimes but for the general user Tor is useful by keeping you out of the hands of advertisers, spammers and the like.
While the new Tor app is not as comprehensive as their desktop version, it will have the same protections users would expect. This will include security features like no proxy bypass, enabled first-party isolation to block cross-site tracking and other anti-fingerprinting defences. It also has some new features such as extra tabs and improved user interface and new logos.
Mobile browsing is increasing around the world, and in some parts, it is commonly the only way people access the internet. In these same areas, there is often heavy surveillance and censorship online, so we made it a priority to reach these users.- Blog post: Tor Project
Tor is short for The Onion Router, hence its logo, and was initially a global network of servers developed with the US Navy. Nowadays, it is a non-profit organisation whose main purpose is the research and development of online privacy tools.
Its main feature and included on the Android version are the tracker blocking to keep all webpages separate or isolated. It automatically deletes all the cookies after the app is closed, which prevents tracking your activities.
Tor browser is Firefox-based which means users will be able to browse websites as usual, including tabbed browsing. The only difference will be it won’t connect directly to visited websites, instead it does so through encrypted servers that keeps your identity and IP address hidden. It’s worth knowing that Tor is generally slower than other browsers because of its tortuous routing.
Remember though, 100% anonymous is impossible to achieve, whether using Tor or a VPN or any other packages. It is also worth remembering that anonymous is not the same as security. Those with the wherewithal who want to track you can still do so even on Tor. In the end it’s a personal choice but one, perhaps, worth looking at.