As the average internet user surfs the internet and uses apps more than ever, privacy on smartphones is more important than ever. One brand that’s taking the need for privacy on Android seriously is DuckDuckGo.
So, what can installing the DuckDuckGo app on your phone do for your privacy?
What Is DuckDuckGo?
DuckDuckGo is a privacy-oriented internet search engine and a desktop and Android browser. Founded in 2008, DuckDuckGo makes it its duty to eliminate personalized search results by showing only search-authentic results.
But while it started as an internet search engine, DuckDuckGo has been improving and evolving the privacy opportunities it offers its users. One of their latest ventures is protecting the privacy of Android device users beyond private searching.
Why You Need Privacy Protection on Android
Across all apps, from simple games to kill-time to Google, Facebook, and Instagram apps, your data is being tracked around the clock. According to DuckDuckGo, more than 96 percent of the popular and free Android apps contained concealed third-party trackers.
It’s often written in the terms and conditions that you have to agree to before even accessing to the app. Apps have been found to collect everything from your name, email address, and location to tracking your browser history, your health and fitness data, and, in some cases, financial information.
How Does DuckDuckGo Add Privacy to Your Android Device?
Third-party tracker-blocking became available for most updated iOS devices when Apple released their App Tracking and Transparency update in January of 2021. DuckDuckGo’s App Tracking Protection is modeled after Apple’s own technology.
App Tracking Protection isn’t a one-time tracking block. It remains active in the background and continuously blocks tracking attempts as you use your phone—and even as you sleep.
The feature uses on-device VPN to detect apps sending out data to third-party recipients. It’s important to note that the feature isn’t an actual VPN, but your device will recognize it as one.
Your data won’t be routed to an external server, like with actual VPNs. Instead, the entire process simply mimics a VPN right on your phone.
What to Expect From App Tracking Protection
The App Tracking Protection feature works directly from inside the DuckDuckGo browser app. You’ll have access to real-time data and summaries of the attempted tracking that DuckDuckGo blocked.
It’ll reveal what apps tried to collect data from you and when. It’ll also include information on the specific trackers within the apps, not just the app. Furthermore, App Tracking Protection will reveal where your data was going, from Google, Facebook, and Amazon to smaller and lesser-known data marketplace.
When Will It Be Ready?
While the feature has yet to be officially released and is still in Beta mode, DuckDuckGo is gradually introducing it to more users every week.
There isn’t a set date for a full release, but the fastest way to get access to the feature is by joining the waitlist. By the time you’re included, the feature will have evolved thanks to the feedback of other Beta users and testers.
To join the waitlist, simply download DuckDuckGo for Android if you haven’t already. Open Settings > Privacy > App Tracking Protection > Join the Private Waitlist.
Beta apps and features rely greatly on feedback from users. This is especially important for a feature that enhances and protects user privacy on their smartphone, where the majority of data and activity is.
Whether you experience some issues with the feature or have a suggestion, DuckDuckGo encourages you to message them and let them know. Doing so will help improve the final product.
Author: Anina is a freelance technology and internet security writer at MakeUseOf. She started writing in cybersecurity 3 years ago in hopes of making it more accessible to the average person. Keen on learning new things and a huge astronomy nerd.