DuckDuckGo Browser Debuts On Desktops

The DuckDuckGo browser is now available in beta form on MacOS. It’s the first time the privacy-focused browser has come in desktop app form.

The beta is available on an invite basis, with users on a waitlist being added over time, while a Windows version is in the works. Rather unintuitively, the signup point for the waitlist is in the mobile app’s settings menu under “More from DuckDuckGo”.

As with the existing mobile apps, the desktop version incorporates the original DuckDuckGo search engine that promises no user tracking. It also blocks web trackers by default.

The biggest new feature attempts to automatically block pop-ups asking for cookie consent. Unlike some browser extension that simply do this by giving consent, users can set the DuckDuckGo version to attempt to automatically reject as many cookies as possible.

This currently only works on around 50 percent of sites, though the developers plan to ramp this figure up. One of the main obstacles is that many sites allow one-click to accept cookies but require multiple clicks to reject them, something that violates privacy laws such as the GDPR that require the pop-ups in the first place.

The browser also includes a “privacy feed” that lists all attempts at tracking, with an option to clear data on a site-by-site basis where the tracking has succeeded. As with the mobile apps, there’s a high-profile “Fire” button that wipes the entire browsing history with one click.

While it includes several familiar browser features such as a password manager and bookmark import, it has some key omissions such as a bookmarks bar and support for extensions/plugins. Some of these will be added later, but the extension support is problematic as the browser is based on WebKit rather than Chromium. Until that’s overcome, the lack of extensions could be a major barrier for many users.

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