Private Browsing Mode or Incognito Mode is nowadays available in virtually every browser available for Android. ‘Privacy’ is the word of the year, according to Dictionary.com, and there are many legitimate reasons why you may want to browse the web privately. Private browsing allows you to surf the web without saving any information about your browsing habits, such as history, cookies, form and search entries, or downloads list. Some data, like temporary files and cookies, will be kept for the duration of browsing session, but they will be completely removed when you close your browser. The problem with Private Browsing is that we often forget to use it. In this article we will cover three tips that will make web browsing from your Android device safe, private and even anonymous using Tor network.
Tip 1: Start Android Browser in Incognito Mode by Default
There is a semi-hidden option that allows you to run stock Android Browser in incognito mode by default. Here’s how to do it:
- Open stock Android browser.
- Tap on Menu button and select ‘New incognito tab’.
- Tap on Menu button again and select ‘Settings’.
- Set homepage to ‘Current page’ or manually type-in ‘browser:incognito’.
That’s it, from now on Android browser will open incognito tab as your default page. Unfortunately, there are a few drawbacks to this solution. First, it is only suitable for stock Android browser and won’t work in Chrome and other browsers. Secondly, if you’re opening a link from third party application, this link will be opened in a standard tab, not in private one. To circumvent this disadvantage you have to install one of the privacy-focused browsers available on Google Play.
Tip 2: Use Privacy-Focused Browser
There are several browsers devoted to privacy available on Google Play. In this article we will cover two of our favorite browsers, Dolphin Zero and InBrowser.
- Application: Dolphin Zero
- Developer: Mobotap, Inc.
- Reviewed version: 1.0.0
- Price: Free!
Dolphin Zero is a free application that gives you the browsing experience of popular Dolphin Browser, but with tracking disabled. The browser by default enables ‘Do Not Track’ functionality to it’s fullest extent. It also automatically deletes upon exit all your browsing data, including history, form data, passwords, cookies and cached files.
For the search functionality Dolphin has partnered up with DuckDuckGo – a privacy-based search engine. DuckDuckGo is set as default search engine in Dolphin Zero, but you can also easily switch to other search providers, such as Google, Yahoo, and Bing.
- Application: InBrowser – Incognito Browsing
- Developer: TomPod Apps
- Reviewed version: 2.05
- Price: Free!
Unlike extremely simple Dolphin Zero, InBrowser is a private browser with several extra features. It does support tabbed browsing and has the ability to switch between several webpages within a single browsing session. Next, InBrowser gives you an easy way to spoof your browser’s user agent and make websites think, that you are using Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer, iPad or iPhone. Finally, the browser has in-app video player. You can watch videos within browser, and any trace of this will be removed when you exit the app.
By default InBrowser will be automatically unloaded from memory when you switch to another application. This may cause you some inconvenience and I recommend you to override this setting by enabling ‘Run In Background’ option in Settings menu. This way InBrowser will run in the background, but hidden from recent apps. You can continue using the program by tapping on it’s icon.
Tip 3: Browse the Web Anonymously With Tor Project
IMPORTANT: According to Dominik Bok, mobile Tor browsers are exposed to the security flaw that allows webmasters to obtain visitor’s real IP address. You can read detailed description of the problem and test your Tor browser on this page.
Private Mode browsing doesn’t make you anonymous on the Internet. The easiest way to obtain anonymity on the web is to use Tor Network. Tor (short for The Onion Router) is free software for enabling online anonymity and censorship resistance. It is available for most computer platforms and Android is no exception. You can learn more about Tor Project on the official website.
In order to use Tor network you have to install two applications on your Android device. First one is called Orbot and is used to log into Tor network. Second application is called Orweb; it is a web browser that utilizes Tor connection. Both applications can be used on devices without root access.
Orbot: Proxy with Tor
- Application: Orbot: Proxy with Tor
- Developer: The Tor Project
- Reviewed version: 13.0.4a
- Price: Free!
Orbot is an application that logs onto the Tor network. Orbot uses Tor to encrypt your Internet traffic and then hides it by bouncing through a series of computers around the world. The program acts as a proxy for other applications, such as Orweb web browser and ChatSecure instant messenger. You can also configure Twitter and DuckDuckGo search engine to use Tor connection using Orbot.
Although the concept of Tor network might seem pretty complex, the Orbot itself is extremely easy to use. After installing the app will guide you through a brief initial setup and you are ready to go. Long press “Power” button at the left side of the screen and wait until Orbot will establish connection to the Tor network (the onion-robot image will turn green).
Orweb: Private Web Browser
- Application: Orweb: Private Web Browser
- Developer: The Guardian Project
- Reviewed version: 0.5.2
- Price: Free!
Orweb is a secure web browser based on open-source Shadow browser from the University of Cambridge. The application works hand in hand with Orbot and utilizes Tor network connection to provide web access. Orweb also enables whitelist control of cookies, doesn’t store local history, disables Flash, and requires only Internet permissions, keeping you safe from malicious content.
On startup the application checks if Tor connection is up and running, then points the browser on the Tor Project website to check the connection. If everything is fine, you’ll see a welcome message.