The Privacy-Focused Tor Browser Officially Arrives To Android

Users that want some privacy when surfing the web, can use the Incognito mode or private mode on modern browsers.

This would prevent the browser from saving their browsing history and session. A step beyond that, is by using VPN or proxy to redirect all traffic through a tunnel where encryption happens. This would allow users to be on elsewhere in the globe, preventing their original ISP and government from spying their online activities.

But if users want to go even beyond that, the Tor browser is the way out.

And in a blog post, the Tor Project team announced Tor Browser 8.5, the official stable version of Tor browser for Android that is finally coming out of beta.

The Tor browser allows Android users to easily browse the web through the Tor network in complete anonymity, without having to jump through hoops to get connected.

Tor Android browser

The Tor Browser is based on Firefox, so users can experience that conveniences of using tabbed browsing. But rather than connecting directly to websites, the Tor browser's tabs connect to encrypted servers that bounce requests around multiple intermediate links, hiding the users' IP address and identity.

The Tor Project team in releasing a stable version of its browser has been a very long wait by the community.

Previously, users can use apps like the Orbot/Orfox app.

Then the team began in September 2018, when it launched an alpha version to test the waters. This Tor Browser was still dependent on the Orbot app.

And this time with the stable version finally coming out, the team is like bundling everything together, to make the convenience of connecting to the Tor network each time users open the app.

"We've been hard at work making sure we can provide the protections users are already enjoying on desktop to the Android platform. Mobile browsing is increasing around the world, and in some parts, it is commonly the only way people access the internet. In these same areas, there is often heavy surveillance and censorship online, so we made it a priority to reach these users," explained the Tor Project team.

Before finally announcing a stable version, the team made sure that there are no proxy bypasses, that first-party isolation is enabled to protect users from cross-site tracking, and that most of the fingerprinting defenses are working.

One of which, is the improved Security Slider Accessibility. In Tor Browser 8.5 development period, "we revamped the experience so now the chosen security level appears on the toolbar."

Previously, the slider is located behind the Torbutton. This time, users can interact with the slider more easily.

"While 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," continued the team.

Tor Android browser

And to wrap everything up, Tor Browser 8.5 has been made compatible with Firefox's Photon UI, with the team designing its logo and about:tor page across all the platforms.

The Tor Browser has many uses. For instance, it can help activists or journalists around the world to avoid government monitoring. It's also proven to be a capable gateway to the dark web, where information is far more abundance than on the surface web.

For the most part, the Tor browser and its networks are becoming increasingly popular, more in one part than another, due to the fact that governments are trying their best to control the flow of data on the internet and filter what people can see on the web.

This leads to end of internet neutrality to some, heavy surveillance, online censorship and more.

Because mobile browsing is already becoming the fastest and easiest way to go to the web, "we made [the Tor browser] a priority to reach these users."

The post noted that the browser might have some features missing from the desktop version, but it already has cross-site tracking prevention mechanism and defense against fingerprinting attacks (a type of attack to sniff web traffic without breaking encryption).

Tor said that there's no iOS Tor Browser because Apple apparently blocks needed computing processes and forces browser companies to use its own engine. Instead, Tor recommends the Onion Browser for those iOS users on iPhones and iPads.