DuckDuckGo brings Apple's App Tracking Protection to Android users


The popular search engine DuckDuckGo revealed on the 18th of last month an exciting new beta (experimental) feature for its Android application users, that aims to protect them from advertising companies tracking, across applications while they use their smart devices, similarly to Apple App Tracking Protection feature that the company introduced with the iOS 14.5 update.

 I joined the beta waitlist right away on the same day, and since then I've been eagerly waiting to try out this new feature that I've always wished Google had in Android, but as we all know that won't happen, at least soon.

A couple of days ago, I got a notification on my phone telling me that the wait is finally over, and I can try this new feature now. In this article, I will tell you more about DuckDuckGo App Tracking Protection, what it looks like, how it works, and a little something to take to consider if you want to use this feature.

DuckDuckGo is a search engine that protects from tracking for its users while they search on the Internet, whether from the search engine itself (DuckDuckGo does not track your search history) or from other advertising companies and institutions that collect information about users to target them later with ads. 

The DuckDuckGo mobile application on the Android and iOS platforms provides broader protection, as it blocks elements that record and track all user activities for advertising or analytics purposes, or those that may lead to the download of malicious software that may cause damage to your device, which means that when you use of the application, you are completely safe, and your browsing is private.

However, all browsers have a private window feature or mode, so why should I use the DuckDuckGo app? Well, this is true, all modern browsers have this feature with names, and promise that they do not record anything about you if you are in this private window. But the companies behind these browsers do not fully respect this promise especially if the ads were a source of income for these companies, for example, Google Chrome continues to track your activities even in the private mode, so I do not trust either it or in Microsoft Edge, and I also have some doubts about Mozilla Firefox, and therefore I need A browser that protects me and is known to do so.

If protection from analytical and advertising institutions on the Internet is important, here is what is more important, which is protection from tracking between applications, for example, Facebook tracks user activities between various applications installed in his device to use in his targeted ads.

Apple has limited the ability of  Like these applications to track users through the iOS system through the recent updates they launched for their mobile devices, but  on the other hand, Android users have been left unprotected from these intruders because ads are the first source of income for the company behind it (Google), they also do the same tracking of users' activities, and In fact, I discovered through my short experience with the new DuckDuckGo feature that Google tracks the user more than any other company, While I was on Twitter for just a few minutes, DuckDuckGo blocked over nine attempts to track me by Google.

DuckDuckGo's App Tracker Blocker is based on the simple idea of creating a local virtual private network (VPN) on the user's device which monitors network traffic, so that it can block known trackers like Facebook, Google, Adjust, One Signal, and others. Some trackers may not be blocked at this time because DuckDuckGo hasn't yet detected them and hasn't added them to its block list, but the company said in its FAQ documents that it's constantly working to identify and protect against new trackers and that users can expect automatic updates The company tracks list every few months, so more trackers will be added to the service over time.

The local VPN connection the app creates on the user device does not send any personal data off the device to DuckDuckGo, according to always to the FAQ. “Instead of sending your data to a VPN server, App Tracking Protection works locally on the user's device, setting down between your apps and the server they talk to. Whenever App Tracking Protection recognizes a known tracker, it blocks the tracker from sending personal information (such as your IP address, activity, and device details) off your device. All other traffic reaches its destination, so your apps work normally”.

This protection does not work yet with all applications such as browsers, for example, so the protection against tracking is not turned on by default so that these applications work normally, but this is expected and very normal, this service is still in its experimental stage, and it is stable, and this did not confront me Any problems during my experience with it such as sluggishness or sudden stop working. In addition, most applications that do not work with this feature yet, are marked as having known issues, and the company says that this is mostly temporary as they work to improve App Tracking Protection, and users can manage this protection for each app on the DuckDuckGo app settings.

This method of protection is very safe and effective, and will undoubtedly provide Android users with a similar level of protection to that of Apple users (well, I'm just kidding, it's not even close), but there is a very small issue: This security feature is based on creating a VPN, although it is not actually a virtual private network, which means that users of real VPN services and networks will not be able to use this feature, such as Android and as far as I know, the connection is not allowed With more than one VPN service at the same time, and if a user tries to connect to a second VPN connection, the first one will be disconnected, so Android users will have – for now – to choose whether it is protected by VPN or DuckDuckGo App Tracking Protection. 

What do you think of these new features, will you use them on your device? Or are you not interested in it at all? Tell us what you think in the comments section.

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