With online holiday shopping underway, here’s a new tool that will help you stay anonymous while browsing and buying. Better safe than sorry, as the saying goes. And why not do it without really having to think about it.
Many modern smartphone web browsers have private modes. They’re rarely turned on by default, however, and you may have to wade through settings just to make sure you’re a ghost online. Mozilla wants to try something different: it’s launching a browser for iOS that revolves around privacy. Firefox Focus isn’t very sophisticated (you don’t even get multiple tabs), but it blocks ad, analytics and social trackers by default, with simple sliders used to turn tracking on and off. Also, see that conspicuous “erase” button up top? Hit that and it immediately wipes your current browser history — all the evidence of your gift shopping goes away in a moment.
You can take your browsing to extremes if you want. There’s an option to block more content trackers if you’re not worried about breaking site compatibility, and you can disable sites’ custom web fonts if they’re bogging you down. You still have the option of jumping into standard Firefox or Safari if you want to load a page in a more conventional browser.
There’s no question that Firefox Focus is a one-trick pony, and it’s not completely necessary when Mozilla’s content blocker for Safari (confusingly named Focus by Firefox) is still around. However, that single-minded strategy might be Mozilla’s ace in the hole. Firefox faces an uphill battle gaining share on iOS when Safari is the default, and Chrome is easily the most popular alternative. How is it supposed to stand out? Well, Firefox Focus does — it could be your go-to option when you’re determined to remain invisible.
As for other platforms? Mozilla tells us that it will “consider building a similar product” for Android if the iOS version proves successful. In the meantime, anti-tracking measures are already available in both the desktop and mobile editions of Firefox.
By John Fingas for endgadget.com