iOS 8 Lets You Switch to Private Search Engine

As Internet search engines go, Google is a fairly inoffensive one, but if you're assiduous about online privacy, it's perhaps not the best choice. Privacy enthusiasts and conspiracy theorists alike should be pleased to hear that in iOS 8, users can choose to make another Internet search engine the default for Apple's Safari Web browser, and one of the options is the privacy-friendly DuckDuckGo.

Graham Cluley, a prominent security researcher, wrote up the procedure for ESET's WeLiveSecurity blog. iOS 8 users who would rather not use Google can instead select Bing, Yahoo or DuckDuckGo.

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Google, Bing and Yahoo are relatively known quantities, but if you're not familiar with DuckDuckGo, you're not alone. The search engine distinguishes itself by not tracking users or skewing searches toward advertisers' preferences. Everyone who searches on DuckDuckGo gets exactly the same results; the tradeoff is that the results are not quite as refined as those from larger engines.

Interested users should find the switching process easy. Simply boot up your iOS 8 device, navigate to the Settings menu and select Safari. From there, tap on Search Engine and then DuckDuckGo. If you find you don't like it, you can always switch back in the same way.

DuckDuckGo may be good for privacy, but keep in mind that it does not offer any additional security features; it is not any "safer" to search with than Yahoo, Google or Bing. Sifting through generalized search results may also require a little more effort than users are accustomed to, particularly for those users whom Google or Bing have gotten to know very well.

Otherwise, while it's not possible to keep your online presence 100 percent private, DuckDuckGo is as good a tool as any for staying as low-profile as possible.

Marshall Honorof is a Staff Writer for Tom's Guide. Contact him at Follow him @marshallhonorof and on Google+. Follow us @tomsguide, on Facebook and on Google+.

Marshall Honorof

Marshall Honorof is a senior editor for Tom's Guide, overseeing the site's coverage of gaming hardware and software. He comes from a science writing background, having studied paleomammalogy, biological anthropology, and the history of science and technology. After hours, you can find him practicing taekwondo or doing deep dives on classic sci-fi. 

  • Skylyne
    I like the article, but I think it's a hollow victory for the security, and anonymity, minded. Personally, I don't think this is enough. I would definitely recommend using Disconnect if you really want to take advantage of DDG in a much more secure and anonymous way.

    I'm waiting for WhiteHat Aviator to be available on Android and iOS. That will be the day that the iPhone has a real evolution in security; at least, I think that would be a great start. What would be even better is replacing Safari with Aviator. Honestly, I wish Apple didn't suck with their "security" to begin with. They have been getting better in certain ways, but it seems to be very little more than failed attempts. In my eyes, they're no better than Microsoft; and we all know Microsoft has a lot of serious security problems.

    On the flip side, it is a step in the right direction. I'm just too sceptical of iOS (and especially iPhone users) to really think that making DDG an optional primary search engine would make much of a difference. On the upside, I don't have to rely on Google's targeted crap to give me the results I want when I'm using iOS, as I've never liked their search results for facts/etc. when compared to DDG. For those who want to stick with Google, and remain anonymous, I suggest using Disconnect; that way you can maintain anonymity and still use Google's service; of course, your search results are only of unbiased and anonymous quality if you are not signed into your Google account while doing the searches. I know it sounds strange that I have to say that, but everyone forgets to take a certain security measure from time to time.