DuckDuckGo, a privacy-focused search engine, has released a sneak peek of its next desktop “browsing app,” which offers simple default privacy settings.
In a blog post reviewing DuckDuckGo’s achievements for 2021, CEO Gabriel Weinberg discusses the company’s desktop browser, which includes 150 million downloads of its all-in-one privacy apps for iOS and Android, as well as Chromium extensions.
Weinberg argues that the DuckDuckGo desktop browser is not a “privacy browser,” in contrast to the Chromium-based Brave and Mozilla Firefox. Instead, it’s merely a browser that comes with “robust privacy protection” by default and can be used for everything from search to surfing to email.
“It’s an everyday browsing app that respects your privacy because there’s never a bad time to stop companies from spying on your search and browsing history,” writes Weinberg.
Weinberg provides a few hints regarding the internals of the DuckDuckGo desktop browser, or “app,” as he refers to it, but omits many details.
He claims it will not be built on Chromium, the open-source project that powers Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge, Brave, Vivaldi, and more than 30 other browsers.
“Instead of forking Chromium or anything else, we’re building our desktop app around the OS-provided rendering engines (like on mobile), allowing us to strip away a lot of the unnecessary cruft and clutter that’s accumulated over the years in major browsers,” Weinberg explains.
It’s unclear which desktop OS-provided rendering engines he’s referring to, but building a desktop browser without Chromium’s Blink rendering engine is a difficult undertaking. Just ask Microsoft, which released its Edge browser based on Chromium last year. Apple, on the other hand, utilises WebKit for Safari on the desktop and requires WebKit for iOS in all non-Safari browsers on iOS, including Chrome.
ZDNet has reached out to DuckDuckGo for clarification, but Allison Johnson, DuckDuckGo’s communications manager, has provided The Verge with some information regarding the rendering engines.
“macOS and Windows both now offer website rendering APIs (WebView/WebView2) that any application can use to render a website. That’s what we’ve used to build our app on desktop” Johnson stated.
“We’re building the desktop app from the ground up around the OS-provided rendering APIs. This means that anything beyond website rendering (e.g., tabs & bookmark management, navigation controls, passwords etc.) we have to build ourselves” Johnson stated.
According to The Verge, the DuckDuckGo browser will rely on Edge/Chromium for Windows and Safari/Webkit for macOS.
That strategy, according to Johnson, does not fork Chromium. Google’s construction of Blink, which leveraged the open-source code behind the WebKit rendering engine (which Google and Apple had previously maintained), and then constructed its own web-rendering engine for Chromium, is a clear example of forking a project.
Regardless of when DuckDuckGo’s new desktop browser is released, Weinberg claims that “compared to Chrome, the DuckDuckGo app for desktop is cleaner, way more private, and early tests have found it significantly faster too!”
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