The “App Tracking Protection” feature of DuckDuckGo for Android has entered open beta and now enables all Android users to prevent third-party trackers across all of their installed apps.
The DuckDuckGo for Android app is a privacy-focused web browser, search engine, and data protection utility, downloaded over 10 million times from Google Play. It includes numerous privacy features, including search term anonymity, hidden tracker blocking, email tracker protection, auto-HTTPS, and one-tap browsing history clearing.
By preventing third-party tracking scripts in other Android apps that have been installed on the device, the “App Tracking Protection” attempts to increase privacy throughout the entire operating system.
‘It’s a free feature in the DuckDuckGo Android app that helps block 3rd party trackers in the apps on your phone (like Google spying in your weather app),’ stated DuckDuckGo today. ‘This means more comprehensive privacy and less invasive targeting.
The new version of App Tracking Protection allows Android users to see precisely which trackers are blocked and what kind of data they are seeking, in contrast to the prior close beta version of the service.
The feature is somewhat similar to Apple’s ‘App Tracking Transparency,’ but unlike the Apple feature, DuckDuckGo’s system does not depend on the app developers’ compliance with user choice.
Blocking all known trackers
According to DuckDuckGo, Android users have 35 apps installed on their smartphones on average, which results in 1,000–2,000 daily tracking attempts for more than 70 tracking organizations.
While consumers frequently use their devices to browse the web, play games, or check the weather, the App Tracking Protection guarantees to thwart all these attempts in the background.
Additionally, this blocking occurs with no discernible impact on device performance, which was enhanced in the most recent version of the app.
The blocking is based on a constantly updated and growing list of known trackers and is independent of the user’s choice in the associated tracking request dialogs usually served within apps.
To activate the new feature, the user has to open the DuckDuckGo app on Android, navigate to Settings → More from DuckDuckGo, and then enable App Tracking Protection, as shown below.
The function operates by setting up the DuckDuckGo for Android app on the device as a VPN, enabling the app to filter app traffic and block trackers.
However, unlike a conventional VPN, this is only used locally and does not offer anonymity when using the internet or connecting to other remote devices.
“App Tracking Protection uses a local “VPN connection,” which means that it works its magic right on your smartphone and without sending app data to DuckDuckGo or other remote servers,” explains DuckDuckGo.
Therefore, to enable the feature, DuckDuckGo will request the user allow the VPN connection to be created, which is required for the blocker to function as expected.
From then on, the app will regularly update the user with automatically generated summaries of blocked app trackers to give them an idea of what is happening behind the scenes.
Those who want to evaluate how threatening each app is to their privacy can use App Tracking Protection’s real-time view to see what trackers are loaded and blocked.
Although App Tracking Protection is a strong tool, users should be aware that it is still in the beta testing phase of development.
As a result, it could result in performance issues, incorrect operation of websites or apps, or the evasion of some trackers. You can turn off the feature if you experience any of these problems.