One of the big myths about iOS is that as every browser is based on Safari anyway, you should just use Safari out of the box. And even though that statement is not completely untrue, as every browser is indeed using the built-in Safari engine, not every browser is equally private or secure. Some even have diagnostics and other unnecessary things enabled in the browser itself.
Today we will have a look at some alternate browsers on iOS and I'll share my personal recommendations and favourites.
If you read decentralize.today and our Privacy Cookbook you know that now I am a big fan of AdGuard and NextDNS. Before you pick any browser, the first thing to do is to set your DNS. This can be done via the AdGuard app, or if you are a NextDNS user you can jump over to apple.nextdns.io and enter your nextdns ID, and download and install the profile. However, as always use the DNS provider you trust, but make sure you encrypt your DNS!
AdGuard or other ad blockers ensure that all your browsing experience is safe, by blocking bad Apples away. This starts with the telemetary of Apple itself, but includes also malware, advertising agencies and data holders. I strongly recommend checking AdGuard and use the DNS blocking option. And add this blocklist as the first line of defense:
The beauty of AdGuard and NextDNS is not just that it encrypts the websites you visit, but also protects and blocks them system wide. This not just includes your browser, but every app you're using.
Apple added in iOS 14 a lot of built-in tracker protection and even proxy Google Safe Browsing over an Apple proxy to block Google from collecting information. A noble cause you might think, but probably just allowing Apple to collect the information and use it otherwise in the future.
However, using AdGuard is a great start. And if you set the DNS blocking feature and Apple telemetry blocking to it, you are halfway there.
This said you have better options as the built-in Safari browser and I always recommend having a second browser to separate your personal life from banking and co. So, let's dig in, shall we?
DuckDuckGo is another option and, of course, respects your privacy a bit more than Apple does, surprisingly you still have diagnostics with DDG and this is somewhat disturbing for a private search engine, who promote the browser as a privacy-friendly option.
Usage data and diagnostics (not linked directly to you) are coming with DDG, and therefore I can’t recommend it to be your daily drive.
Often you hear the argument Brave is the “privacy browser” and Brave looks better when it comes to trackers, diagnostic and co. But Brave has proven in the past to be more than a privacy-focused browser, but also a business. Therefore, as much as the browser itself seems pretty good, I cannot recommend it to be your daily drive over Safari
Identifier and usage data (not directly linked to you) is coming with Brave and, of course, the past of this company comes with it, so I can’t recommend Brave as your Safari replacement.
Coming to my three recommendations as your primary and secondary browser choices:
Snowhaze is my personal daily drive, it has many features you can’t find in Safari itself, including adding search engines, a built-in VPN (paid service), TOR, which is experimental, but will also be able to block fonts, scripts and makes sure no one can fingerprint your browsing experience. The browser is totally free, and you do not need to subscribe to the paid VPN service.
No data is collected
If you're looking for even more features, iCab Web is for you. However, keep in mind this browser is not free. Yet, it has many unique features and just as Snowhaze allows you to add search engines, but also has a great built-in download manager. iCab has so much to offer that I recommend you to read the official website to learn more about it. The amount they're charging is surely worth the browser!
No data collected
Last but surely not least is Onionbrowser, not an official Tor browser, but is recommended by the Tor project. Not only does the browser have zero trackers, but it also allows you to use the Tor network, and hide your browsing history and habits from third parties, like your ISP.
No data collected
As you can see, you actually have some good options, with zero data collecting browsers, and I would recommend giving at least one of these three recommendations a try. I doubt you'll regret it but then I'll never know! :-)
As always stay safe, browse safe and use DNS ;)