At long last, the Tor Project is releasing an official web browser for Android users. The new Android app is available now as an alpha release in Google’s Play Store and on the experimental releases section of the Project’s download page.
Even if you don’t use the Tor Browser to browse the web more securely or don’t want to screw with an alpha release, this is an app you should keep an eye on. Mobile devices are the primary way many people get online, yet the tools for doing so privately often work better on desktop machines. As the Project points out, regions where desktop machines are less common are also often heavily targeted by both government surveillance and censorship tools, making this release especially crucial.
Third-party Tor browsers were (and continue to be) an option for Android users, but there was never an official mobile counterpart to the desktop browser — which, by the way, just recently got a major update. The app Tor endorsed for Android users in the past, Orfox, “will be sunsetted around the time of our stable release,” according to the Tor Project’s announcement today. That’s expected to happen in “early 2019,” they say.
Until then, early testers should expect to see some bugs. They’ll also need to install an app called Orbot to connect the alpha release to the Tor network. This is supposed to change next year: “For the upcoming Tor Browser for Android stable release, our goal is for Orbot not to be necessary to connect to Tor,” the group writes.