DuckDuckGo debuts privacy-focused browser for Mac users

DuckDuckGo debuts privacy-focused browser for Mac users

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Duck Duck Go, Inc., which is best known for its privacy-focused search engine, announced today that it’s getting into the world of desktop browsers with the launch of DuckDuckGo for Mac.

The new browser is for now available via an invite-only beta. The company, which already offers web browsers for Android and iOS mobile devices, said DuckDuckGo for Mac is designed to be used as “an everyday browser” and that it “truly protects your privacy”.

To do this, DuckDuckGo said the browser will automatically manage cookie consent on most websites to decline their use, and that it will rely on encrypted HTTPS connections whenever these are available. The browser also blocks trackers and allows users to clear stored data on each individual website they visit. There’s a password manager too, which can import data from other browsers plus browser extensions such as LastPass and 1Password. The company is planning to add private syncing of passwords and bookmarks between browsers too, but that’s not available yet.

While most alternative browsers these days are based on Google LLC’s Chromium project and use the Blink browsing engine, DuckDuckGo’s doesn’t. Instead, it relies on Apple Inc.’s WebKit rendering engine via the WKWebView application programming interface.

It’s a smart idea to do so because that is also the built-in browser engine for Mac’s Safarai, and it means the DuckDuckGo browser will automatically gain new features and security updates whenever MacOS gets updated. On the plus side, this allows DuckDuckGo to keep the browser more secure without doing all of the testing and updating by itself. However, it could result in some feature and security differences between browsers that run on different versions of the MacOS.

DuckDuckGo also claims using Safari’s built-in engine means the browser is faster than Chrome at rendering pages. It uses up to 60% less data too, the company said.

The use of the WKWebView API also means DuckDuckGo browser can’t tap into Safari’s huge catalog of browser extensions. In a blog post, DuckDuckGo explains that most of the popular browser extensions on Safari are content blockers and password managers, two features that are already available in DuckDuckGo browser. However it’s worth mentioning that alternative browsers such as Vivaldi also offer both features, as well as the entirety of Chrome’s browser extensions.

According to DuckDuckGo, there is a Windows-based version of the browser coming soon too. If we’re to assume that DuckDuckGo will use the same approach on Windows, then it will likely rely on Microsoft Edge’s WebView2 browsing engine. If that’s the case, then the two DuckDuckGo browsers will almost certainly be completely different under the hood, even if they do share the same name.

Although the beta is invite-only, users can download the DuckDuckGo mobile app for iOS or Android to join the waitlist. Simply go into the app, open the settings and navigate to the “DuckDuckGo for Desktop” option to click and join the waitlist.

Image: DuckDuckGo

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