DuckDuckGo's macOS browser hits public beta

Remember, remember, the Microsoft trackers

DuckDuckGo's macOS browser has entered public beta, opening the privacy-centric browser to anyone on a Mac or MacBook willing to give it a go. 

According to DDG, the new desktop browser includes many of the features contained in its mobile apps, like anti-tracking technology, DDG's own search engine, cookie popup management, a one-click browser data delete button, and email protection that functions similarly to Apple's Hide My Email.

DDG said it wants its browser's desktop iterations to be "an all-in-one app that aims to be the 'easy button' for privacy."

The new browser also includes a YouTube player called Duck Player that declutters YouTube pages and presents videos in a distraction-free environment, as well as a new whitespace cleanup feature that removes blank spaces on websites left by blocked advertisements. 

The DDG says its macOS app also allegedly uses 60 percent less memory than Chrome, a notorious Mac memory hog, because it blocks trackers before they're able to load. Beyond handling trackers differently, DuckDuckGo said the macOS browser isn't a fork of Chrome "or any other browser code." 

"All the app code – tab and bookmark management, our new tab page, our password manager, etc – is written by our own engineers. For rendering, it uses [WebKit], making it super compatible with Mac devices," DuckDuckGo said. 

Who are you trusting with your privacy?

The DuckDuckGo search engine has been around for more than a decade, and in that time it's gained a reputation for being a semi-anonymous way to search the web (although you should undo any blockers when you're visiting The Reg, of course.)

DDG isn't without its problems, though, like when it was caught earlier this year slipping data from its Android, iOS, and macOS web browsers to Microsoft, which operates the back end of DDG's search engine. 

Identified during an audit of DDG's mobile browsers, the company was caught transmitting data from websites visited by the researcher conducting the work to both Bing ads and LinkedIn. DDG CEO Gabriel Weinberg admitted as much, saying that his company's agreement with Microsoft prevented certain blocking actions in exchange for the ability to use Bing as DDG's back end.

After a wave of criticism, DDG decided to reverse course and block Microsoft trackers. Bing also famously lacked any search results for the famous Tank Man photo taken during the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests, as did DuckDuckGo, raising questions from the community.

If you want to try the new DDG browser for macOS you can do so now, while Windows users were assured by DDG that a version of the browser for Windows was coming soon, and is currently in a friends and family beta. ®


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