While Google is basically the default search engine in the western world, you may have growing concerns about the amount of data that it can collect about you -- not just through Google Search but also via Google Maps, Photos, Gmail, Drive, Docs, and other services. A growing number of people are checking out alternatives, and the latest rising challenger is DuckDuckGo.
DuckDuckGo, Inc. was founded a decade ago as a scrappy startup, at a time when Microsoft, Yahoo, and others were pouring billions into just keeping up with Google, never mind taking its place. But DuckDuckGo has doggedly pursued its mission to provide search results with an absolute minimum of user data collection, and these efforts are bearing fruit.
According to its own public metrics, the site was getting a little under 15 million visits a day as of April 2017, and it's now doubling this 18 months later. Its chart dating from January 2011 is practically turning into a hockey stick.
Revelations about data breaches on social networks, at credit reporting agencies, and in online shopping carts may be making people increasingly wary about who has access to their personal information, and what can happen when the wrong people get ahold of it.
To that end, DuckDuckGo also has its own privacy-oriented browser for iOS and Android. It's based on Mozilla Firefox (iOS, Android), and it's one of the better ones. It features snappy performance, tabbed navigation, tracker filtering, and the ability to clear your browsing history in just two taps. When you put a search query in the address bar, it will take you to DuckDuckGo's website instead of Google, Bing, or other engines -- and you can't change this setting -- but it's worth checking out otherwise.
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If you want more options, the Mozilla browser itself has actually gotten quite good on Android, after years of struggle. Apple doesn't allow third-party browser engines on iOS, so "Firefox" there is actually using the same WebKit engine from Safari, but it's at least looking a lot nicer than before, and WebKit is generally solid.
- The privacy-oriented DuckDuckGo search engine is now topping 30 million visits a day, more than double what it was getting just a year and a half ago.
- The company also makes a mobile web browser that filters out trackers and can wipe your browsing history with a couple taps.
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- Firefox Monitor shows if your personal information was lost in a hack (CNET)
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- How to use the Firefox Master Password (TechRepublic)