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Editors' Review

Orbot is the official Android app for the Tor Project, whose free Tor network of Internet servers around the world can anonymize and encrypt your activities on the Web, preventing your Internet service provider or other people from snooping on you. It is designed to be used in conjunction with Orfox, a modified version of the Mozilla Firefox browser.

Pros

Free: Orbot comes with no fees, no ads, no pledge drives. Tor relies on donations from individual users and sponsorships from groups like the National Science Foundation and the State Department (like the Internet itself, Tor was created as a US government project).

Encrypted traffic: Tor uses multiple layers of encryption, scrambling the data you're sending back and forth. Theoretically, the network could be compromised to track where you're located, but it would still be very difficult for someone to piece together your activity.

Open-source: Anyone can inspect Orbot's code or use it to build their own version. That openness adds a degree of trust.

Set it and forget it: Once started, Orbot will run quietly in the background, even restarting itself if you restart your Android device. This makes it easier to use for people who are not technically inclined.

Lots of options: If you live in a country with restricted Internet access, Orbot has a wide variety of settings to customize its behavior, such as the ability to specify which parts of the Tor network to connect to or avoid. However, some settings require root access to your device, which may not be possible, depending on which device you have.

Keeps you in the loop: When Orbot's running, you can check it to see its status in plain English, and it'll and usually indicate what you need to do if a problem arises. If you lose your connection to the Tor network, the icon in the status bar at the top of the screen will change to let you know.

Cons

Tor usage is detectable: Some services, like Netflix, will not let you connect if they detect that you are coming from a Tor exit node. If you enable bridge mode in Orbot to add a server between the exit node and Netflix, this will impact download performance, possibly bringing speeds too low to stream a video or engage in other high-bandwidth activities.

Not speedy: Tor is build around privacy rather than convenience. The global network of volunteer Tor nodes has both superhighways and one-lane dirt roads, and you can't choose which one you get. Your path through the network is deliberately randomized to help protect you from outside snooping, and the cost of that is a reduction in speed.

Adding apps is tricky: You can manually include apps (besides Orfox) to be routed through Tor. Tap the sliders icon in the upper right-hand corner, scroll down to Select Apps, and tap it to get an alphabetical list. However, check boxes next to many of the apps on our device seemed to disappear and reappear, such as those next to Google Hangouts, Drive, Maps, Photos, and Sheets.

Bottom Line

The Orbot app has some quirks, and Tor network speed is not as reliable or as fast as a high-quality VPN service (see our recommended VPNs). But the privacy advantages and ease of use greatly outshine any individual downsides.

 
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Full Specifications

What's new in version 16.0.2-RC-1

- 30% smaller install (APK) size, under 10MB!

- updated to tor 0.3.3.5 (Onion Services v3 support and more)

- many fixes for tor, pluggable transport binary installation

- No more "Polipo" HTTP server, just using Tor's new built in capability

- improved language selection in app

NEW PERMISSION: Access to "External Storage" is for persisting backup information for onion services.

Full release notes at: https://github.com/n8fr8/orbot/releases/tag/16.0.2-RC-1

General

Publisher The Tor Project
Publisher web site https://www.torproject.org/
Release Date November 15, 2018
Date Added November 15, 2018
Version 16.0.2-RC-1

Category

Category Communications
Subcategory Chat

Operating Systems

Operating Systems Android
Additional Requirements None

Download Information

File Size 3.18MB
File Name External File

Popularity

Total Downloads 25,204
Downloads Last Week 34

Pricing

License Model Free
Limitations Not available
Price Free
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