privacy

Official Android Version of Tor Browser Released on Google Play Store

“Stable” version of privacy-focused Tor Browser removes the need for complex workarounds

Tor Project Logo on an Android Phone Screen
David Hughes
By David Hughes

The first official version of the Tor Browser for Android was released on the Google Play Store today.

The release of Tor Browser 8.5 was announced in a blog post by the Tor Project, which stated: “We are confident that Tor Browser for Android provides essentially the same protections that can be found on desktop platforms.”

Tor is a privacy-centered browser that uses a network of servers to shield your identity from the website you’re visiting. Your web traffic is bounced from location to location, making it harder for you to be tracked. It also encrypts data and removes any trace of websites you visit.

Tor Project has been working on this new browser for eight months, since September 2018, when they released an alpha version for public testing.

Isabela Bagueros, Executive Director of the Tor Project, said: “We made it a priority to reach the rising number of users who only browse the web with a mobile device. These users often face heavy surveillance and censorship online, so it is critical for us to reach them.”

Part of the ambition was to ensure: “There are no proxy bypasses, that first-party isolation is enabled to protect you from cross-site tracking, and that most of the fingerprinting defenses are working.” Tor did concede, however, that the new Android browser may lack some features available on the desktop version, which has been available since 2008.

There is no official Tor Browser version for iOS “due to restrictions by Apple.” For those looking for this, the Tor Project recommends that iOS users install Mike Tigas’ Onion Browser iOS app.

There is also an appetite to develop a way to integrate Tor protocol into Firefox (the base which it uses). Mozilla is currently funding a research grant for academics to find out how to develop this “Super Private Mode.”

Tor browser is often paired with a VPN for the utmost levels of privacy, although there are only a small number of VPN services compatible with it – we compiled a list of the best VPNs for Tor here.