Tor Browser for Android is now officially available on Google Play and the Tor Project website. The release is marked as alpha at this point; this becomes apparent right after startup as it is required that you install Orbot, a proxy app, on your Android device as well as the Tor browser currently requires it for its functionality.
The team notes, however, that future versions of Tor Browser for Android will not have this dependency, meaning they will provide full functionality and will no longer depend on other apps when this occurs.
Note that you need to configure Orbot for Tor Browser for Android to use it as a proxy on the system. Simply start the app and check the Tor Browser for Android box under Applications to do so.
Point: 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
The first thing to do is to load https://check.torproject.org/ in the browser to verify that the connection goes through the Tor network. The browser has a bookmark on the start page which you can enable for this or you type in the URL manually.
If you’ve ever used Firefox on Android, you’ll feel right at home because Tor Browser is based on Firefox. It is a modified version of Firefox, just like Tor Browser on the desktop. Key changes include privacy-related configuration changes to improve privacy and the inclusion of several add-ons – HTTPS Everywhere and NoScript – which are enabled by default.
Open Menu > Security Settings to manage the Tor Browser security level. The level is set to standard, just like on the desktop; you can raise the level to Safer or Safest, but that reduces functionality.
Closing remarks and verdict
The Tor Browser works fine for the most part. This is an alpha release on the other hand and that means you should expect some bugs and issues; if you need to use Tor in critical environments, you’re probably better off using other applications or methods for now.
It’s good to see that Tor Browser is coming to Android. The project only needs a little time to release a stable version of the mobile web browser so that it is ready to use in all environments.
Now you: would you use the Tor Browser on Android?