The Tor Browser is finally available on Android, but it’s not just for Dark Web lurkers and ne’er do wells.
The browser is known for its ability to shift your web traffic from location to location – meaning you cannot be tracked. The lack of tracking makes the browser popular for privacy-focused users.
Today marks the official launch of the Tor Browser on Android – allowing you to download it via Google Play. The Tor Browser is based on Firefox and allows users to navigate the web without fear of being tracked. The Tor Network achieves this by bouncing your location across relays run by volunteers around the globe. The approach makes it very difficult for anyone to uncover the source of your activity on the web as well as your location.
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There are some trade-offs. The bouncing around of your online activity does significantly lower the speed of your browsing. For those already using the Tor Browser on desktop, there are some differences. According to Tor, “There are still feature gaps between the desktop and Android Tor Browser, we are confident that Tor Browser for Android provides essentially the same protections that can be found on desktop platforms”.
Tor announced the new version of its mobile application by confirming “Tor Browser 8.5 is the first stable release on Android”. Previously, a complex workaround was required to access the browser on Google’s mobile operating system. Tor has been working on the Android application for some time and has given users the opportunity to test earlier builds via alpha and beta testing phases.
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There are currently no plans to bring Tor to iOS devices due to restrictions enacted on the mobile operating system by Apple. However, Tor recommends using the Onion browser instead – a mobile browser not created by Tor but still utilising the Tor Network.
The browser has drawn both praise and criticism for its approach to privacy. The security of the Tor Network enables protection for those that work with sensitive information – like journalists or political activists. However, the benefits also extend to those who may want to use the Tor Browser for hiding illegal activity.