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DuckDuckGo is working on a privacy-focused desktop browser

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DuckDuckGo says it’s a no-nonsense browser that has privacy features by default

Image by DuckDuckGo

DuckDuckGo, the company best known for its privacy-focused search engine of the same name, is working on a desktop browser that should bring the same focus on avoiding being tracked to your entire web experience. In a post on its blog, DuckDuckGo CEO Gabriel Weinberg offers a glimpse at what the upcoming browser will look like and notes that we can expect it to perform the same way its browsing app does on mobile.

Weinberg explains that the desktop browser will offer “robust privacy protection” by default, without you having to toggle on any hidden security settings. Like the mobile app, the desktop equivalent will come with the same “Fire” button that instantly erases all of your browsing history, stored data, and tabs in one click. It’s also built around “OS-provided rendering engines” — like it is on mobile — which Weinberg says will create a neater interface and get rid of any clutter that comes with mainstream browsers. He also claims that early tests of the browser indicate that it’s “significantly faster” than Google Chrome.

“macOS and Windows both now offer website rendering APIs (WebView/WebView2) that any application can use to render a website. That’s what we’ve used to build our app on desktop,” Allison Johnson, the senior communications manager at DuckDuckGo, explained in a statement to The Verge.

“Instead, we’re building the desktop app from the ground up around the OS-provided rendering APIs. This means that anything beyond website rendering (e.g., tabs & bookmark management, navigation controls, passwords etc.) we have to build ourselves.” In other words, on Windows, the browser will use Edge / Chromium rendering, and the same goes for Safari / Webkit on macOS. Johnson also noted that this isn’t the same as forking, which would mean that the browser is built off of one that already exists.

The browser is currently in a closed beta test on macOS, but a tweet from Weinberg hints that DuckDuckGo is getting it ready for Windows as well. There’s no word on when the desktop browser will become publicly available.

Last month, DuckDuckGo introduced a built-in tool for its mobile browsing app that’s supposed to prevent apps from tracking users on Android. And in July, the company rolled out an email protection service that says it will strip away any trackers attached to your emails.

Update December 21st, 2021 4:40PM ET: Added a statement from a DuckDuckGo spokesperson that clarifies how the company is building the browser.