Tor Browser for Android is now available officially on Google Play and on the Tor Project website. The release is marked as alpha at this point in time; this becomes obvious right after start as it is required that you install Orbot, a proxy application, on your Android device as well as Tor Browser requires it currently for its functionality.
The team notes, however, that future versions of Tor Browser for Android won’t have that dependency which means that they will provide all the functionality and do not depend on other apps anymore when that happens.
You need to accept the Orbot prompt when you first launch Tor Browser for Android. Doing so opens the Orbot page on Google Play so that you can install the app.
Note that you need to configure Orbot so that Tor Browser for Android uses it as the proxy on the system. Just start the app and check the Tor Browser for Android box under Apps to do so.
Tip: The release of Tor Browser for Android comes just days after the release of Tor Browser 8.0 for desktop operating systems.
Tor Browser for Android
First thing you may want to do is load https://check.torproject.org/ in the browser to verify that the connection flows through the Tor network. The browser has a bookmark on the start page that you can activate for that or you type the URL manually.
If you have used Firefox on Android before you will feel right at home as Tor Browser is based on Firefox. It is a modified version of Firefox just like Tor Browser on the desktop is. Core changes include privacy-related configuration changes to improve privacy and the inclusion of several add-ons — HTTPS Everywhere and NoScript — that are enabled by default.
Open Menu > Security Settings to manage the security level of Tor Browser. The level is set to standard just like it is on the desktop; you can increase the level to Safer or Safest but doing so reduces the functionality.
Closing Words and verdict
Tor Browser works well for the most part. It is an alpha version on the other hand and that means that you should expect bugs and issues; if you need to use Tor in critical environments you are probably better off using other apps or methods for now.
It is good to see that Tor Browser is coming to Android. The project needs just a little bit of time to release a stable version of the mobile web browser so that it is ready for use in all environments.
Now You: would you use Tor Browser on Android?
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