The makers of Firefox are today introducing a new mobile web browser for iOS users that puts private browsing at the forefront of the user experience. Called Firefox Focus, the mobile browser by default blocks ad trackers, and erases your browsing history, including your passwords and cookies.

The end result is a simplified browser that may load web pages more quickly, the company claims, given that ads and other web trackers can bog down pages and impact performance.

The app was originally launched on the App Store almost a year ago, but at the time was designed as an ad-blocking utility that could remove ads and trackers from iPhone’s Safari browser. That feature is still available in the revamped app, but it’s now aiming to compete more directly with Safari, too.

The browser itself doesn’t have any bells and whistles compared to its rivals, however. There are no tabs, no list of favorite sites, or numerous other configuration options. Instead, a trip to the Settings section only lets you toggle on or off the data you want to block, like ad trackers, analytics trackers, social trackers, other content trackers and web fonts.

Oddly, given the widespread privacy issues Yahoo is facing in the wake of one of the largest data breaches of all time, Firefox Focus has opted to use Yahoo Search as its default search engine. There doesn’t appear to be a way to change this in the current version, which is frustrating. (Update: Mozilla says search engine choice will arrive in a later release. Other markets outside the U.S. may have a different engine than Yahoo.)

Pointing users to Google may seem counterintuitive for a company focused on protecting personal data, but eliminating user choice in such a Big Brother-like fashion under the guise of knowing what’s best is off-putting, as well.screen-shot-2016-11-17-at-10-57-11-am

After you complete a web search, you can erase that activity with a simple press of an “erase” button. Firefox Focus could have automated this, but there’s something about manually clearing a search that feels cathartic.

Despite an increased interest in privacy — especially now, following this period of tumultuous political upheaval here in the U.S. — Firefox may again be too late the game to compete. Already, the top mobile browser makers offer private browsing modes, and there are a number of third-parties that have made private browsing a focus for years, like Tor. The App Store, too, is filled with utilities for private browsing, including a number of startups like Ghostery, Dolphin, Brave and others.

Once one of the world’s top browsers in the desktop era, Firefox didn’t really weather the shift to mobile. Instead of jumping to produce a mobile-friendly browser for the dominant platforms, it protested against the App Store’s restrictions, refusing to build an iOS versionfor years. That finally changed, and Firefox for iOS launched to all around a year ago. But it simply was too late to matter.

The new Firefox Focus is a free download on the Apple App Store. No word on if or when an Android version will be ready.

Author:  Sarah Perez

Source:  https://techcrunch.com

Categorized in Science & Tech

Citing the dangers of a digital world that thereatens to spill beyond the user's control, Mozilla has launched the Firefox Focus last Nov. 17. The company promised it will let the public use the internet without any trace, and it is only available to iPhones and other iOS devices.

New Private Browser

Firefox Focus is essentially a private browser that recalls Google Chrome's Incognito mode.

"Firefox Focus is set by default to block many of the trackers that follow you around the Web. You don't need to change privacy or cookie settings," Mozilla said in a blog post. "You can browse with peace of mind, feeling confident in the knowledge that you can instantly erase your sessions with a single tap — no menus needed."

Based on Mozilla's description, however, it seems that it might be offering an advanced private browsing in the Firefox Focus. Chrome's Incognito Mode does not prevent websites from tracking your activities.

"You aren't invisible," Chrome tells you when opening an Incognito window. "Going incognito doesn't hide your browsing from your employer, your internet service provider, or the websites you visit."

Blocking Web Trackers

Firefox Focus blocks websites that are tracking visitors' activities, which also sets it apart from a VPN tool. According to Mozilla, its algorithm is designed to target web tracking technologies, and websites that rely on tracking will simply not work. If a user does not mind tracking or wants to go to a blocked website, Firefox Focus will direct him to Firefox or Safari.

It is important to note that there is a Firefox Focus serving as a Safari content blocker extension. With the introduction of a stand-alone Focus browser, that feature became an option within its range of functionalities. In its Settings menu, there is an option to integrate Safari and enable tracking blocker.

Like Chrome's Incognito browsing, Focus will erase all traces of the user's sessions when the app is closed.

Firefox Focus Interface

The user interface is another notable feature in the Firefox Focus. The options and elements are essentially barebones. Users, for instance, can only use one tab or essentially no tab because you only have the main Focus window. There are also no menus, ad popups, bookmarks and configuration options.

Some observers, however, found it strange that Mozilla has decided to use Yahoo as Firefox Focus' default search engine. The company has been involved in one of the largest data breaches to date. There is no way of changing the search engine yet, but Mozilla said that it will be offering more choices in the next update.

Focus On Speed

According to Mozilla, because Focus blocks website trackers and is not outfitted with all the features in conventional browsers, it is able to load pages faster.

There are those who could say that the Firefox Focus is at risk of being a mere appendage of a more full-fledged internet browser. Blocking web tracking technologies could make contents such as videos disappear, or they will simply not work. However, users can still do something about this. In the Settings menu, they can toggle the type of data that they want to block.

Author:  Chris Loterina

Source:  http://www.techtimes.com/

Categorized in Internet Privacy

Firefox announced the launch of its Firefox Focus browser for iOS users. Firefox claims that it is a private browser designed to not leave behind traces of internet browsing on the device. Firefox Focus aims to protect online privacy by blocking web trackers and analytics, the company said.

Firefox reports that users can browse content with the knowledge that ‘browsing history, passwords, cookies’ can be deleted with a tap of the “Erase” button, which is located next to the search bar. The company claims that browsing on Firefox Focus is faster compared to other browsers thanks to default blocking of trackers and advertisements that slow down page loading times.

“For the times when you don’t want to leave a record on your phone. You may be looking for information that in certain situations is sensitive – searches for engagement rings, flights to Las Vegas or expensive cigars, for example. And sometimes you just want a super simple, super fast Web experience – no tabs, no menus, no pop-ups,” Firefox said in a blog post.

The browser is bare-boned with a single input box for entering the URL and search functionality using Google(UK) or Yahoo (US). Firefox Focus however, lacks features such as ‘Tabs’, ‘Menus’, and other features, reports The Guardian. There is also no option to change the default search engine from Yahoo, as of yet.

Customising tracking information is found under ‘Settings’. The following trackers can be blocked- ‘advertisements’, ‘analytics’, ‘social’ and others.

Apple’s decision to allow developers write Safari integrations resulted in Firefox initially launching the ‘Focus by Firefox’ in December 2015 as a content blocker for Safari. The new app can still integrate with Safari for blocking tracking information, Firefox added.

Mozilla told Engadget that depending on how the iOS app is received, it’ll consider building an Android version of Firefox Focus. The app is currently available for free on Apple’s App Store.

Author:  Tech Desk

Source:  http://indianexpress.com/

Categorized in News & Politics

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