Privacy-Centric Tor Browser Officially Lands For Android Devices
At long last, The Tor Project has officially ported its Tor browser to Android devices with the first stable release for Google's open source operating system. It is now available on Google Play and will also make its way to F-Droid within the next day. Previously, Android users had access to test builds, with the first alpha version being released last September.
Now after "months of hard work" and listening to feedback from its users, The Tor Project has released Tor Browser 8.5 to Android (alongside a desktop upgrade to 8.5 as well).
"Mobile browsing is increasing around the world, and in some parts, it is commonly the only way people access the internet. In these same areas, there is often heavy surveillance and censorship online, so we made it a priority to reach these users," The Tor Project says.
Tor Browser 8.5 is a standalone browser. The Tor Project said it made sure there were no proxy bypasses, and noted that first-party isolation is enabled to protect users from cross-site tracking. Most of the fingerprinting defenses are working as well, the developers say.
"While there are still feature gaps between the desktop and Android Tor Browser, we are confident that Tor Browser for Android provides essentially the same protections that can be found on desktop platforms," The Tor Projected adds.
On Android, Tor Browser traffic gets relayed and encrypted three times as it passes over the Tor network, which itself is comprised of thousands of volunteer-run servers. This makes it far more difficult to track someone's online behavior, lending itself to a more private and secure browsing experience. This often comes at the expense of performance, similar to using a VPN.
Some of the comments on the Tor Browser's download page on Google Play indicate that it does not work with the Android Q beta. It should work fine on Android 9.0 Pie, though, and hopefully it won't have any issues with the final version of Android Q.
What about iOS users? The Tor Project notes that restrictions by Apple preventing it from porting the Tor Browser to iPhone and iPad devices. In lieu of an official port, the developers recommend using the Onion Browser developed by Mike Tigas with help from the Guardian Project.