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I switched from Google and DuckDuckGo: 5 unexpected takeaways

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I switched from Google and DuckDuckGo: 5 unexpected takeaways

Google is far and away the most popular search engine–but sometimes it can feel more like Big Brother and less like a friendly assistant. Google is a privacy-conscious search engine that collects personal data and serves you ads based on this information. Enter DuckDuckGo, a privacy-focused search engine with its own desktop extension and mobile browser app.

DuckDuckGo claims to be the anti-Google and promises not to collect or track your data. It has a familiar interface and layout and offers many of the same features that you would expect from a search engine, but without any invasive data trackers.

On the surface, DuckDuckGo appears to be a worthy competitor. How does DuckDuckGo compare to Google? I tried DuckDuckGo for one week and was amazed at the results. These are my top five takeaways.

1. DuckDuckGo is refreshing

DuckDuckGo privacy features are so liberating, it surprised me. It claims it does not collect any user data and doesn’t track you on different websites. It won’t save search history or associate your browsing with an IP address.

This is a refreshing experience for someone who has used Google throughout his entire adult life. I can’t remember a time when every movement was not tracked and analyzed and then targeted ads and suggestions were made to me.

Using DuckDuckGo brought me back to a simpler time when a search engine was only there to answer questions like, “What is the best laptop under $1000?” or “What was Tim Robbins’ character’s nickname in Top Gun?” (It was Merlin. )

Privacy, which is the main draw of DuckDuckGo’s search engine, applies it in a way it doesn’t feel restrictive. The lack of personalization didn’t affect my experience with the search engine. DuckDuckGo doesn’t automatically suggest new searches like Google. However, this is a small price to be paid for more privacy.

Another privacy feature that DuckDuckGo actively blocks is external trackers from following your online activities. This means that not only does DuckDuckGo keep your browsing private but it also prevents third-parties from tracking you.

2. DuckDuckGo offers a great UI

Before I started using DuckDuckGo, I had this image of a bare-bones search engine, a la early 2000s Google. It proved me wrong. It was very wrong. It is clear that DuckDuckGo’s designers put a lot of thought into user-friendliness. It is visually pleasing and has a simple layout that doesn’t attempt to reinvent the wheel.

DuckDuckGo UI

DuckDuckGo’s UI is clean, minimal, and familiar.

Sam Singleton

Make no mistake, DuckDuckGo is very similar to Google. But then again, all modern search engines have a similar look. Google is the source of elements such as knowledge panels and ad placements. However, this isn’t necessarily a knockoff of DuckDuckGo. It works well that the engine’s “if you don’t like it, don’t fix” design approach works.

They’ve made some improvements and added some nice changes. DuckDuckGo does not split results between pages. Instead, once you get to the bottom of a page you can click “See more results” and scroll endlessly. Although this is a small tweak, it was much more convenient than scrolling through pages.

3. You can get out of ads

.

This kind of follows the first one. DuckDuckGo does not track browsing history so it can’t provide personalized ads.

As you use Google’s services, Google creates an account on you using personal data such as search habits and purchase history. These data are then used to target ads, resulting in highly targeted ads appearing on almost every website you visit. When I searched Google for stuffed toys for my nephew’s birthday, all the websites I visited over the next few weeks showed me Pokemon plushies as their banner ads.

But, I didn’t experience the same advertisement hauntings when using DuckDuckGo. The results page displayed only a few related ads along the right-hand margin, or higher than the first results when I searched for something. These ads weren’t relevant to my search and didn’t follow me while I was browsing other websites. DuckDuckGo actually had fewer ads than I was used to. This made browsing a pleasant experience in a world where we are constantly bombarded by pop-ups and flashing ads.

DuckDuckGo Ads

Ads along the top and right side can be seen after a search (highlighted in red to make my point).

Sam Singleton

4. Some search skills will be traded for privacy

Google can help me find things that I don’t know. I enter a few random facts that I do remember, and it will usually will give me the answer. These same searches I tried with DuckDuckGo didn’t work. to deliver.

In the screenshot below, you can see that I was looking for the name of a movie (Men Who Stare at Goats) based on a random scene. Because I didn’t know what the movie was called, I searched instead using “film george Clooney do you possess superpowers scene” Google returned the movie I was searching for in the first result. DuckDuckGo couldn’t find it. This is an example of a very specific situation, but Google has become a trusted source for users who rely on it to deliver great results even with limited inputs.

DuckDuckGo Search

Google shows it on the first hit. DuckDuckGo is not as good.

Sam Singleton

Google is a powerful search engine that collects, stores, and personalizes user data. DuckDuckGo will continue falling behind Google in terms of accuracy for returned results if it doesn’t tap into a large library of contextual data.

5. Google maps

is what I miss the most.

After using DuckDuckGo exclusively for a week I can honestly say that I miss the seamless way Google searches hook into Google maps. DuckDuckGo does have a map feature that Apple provides, but it’s not the same. Like when I use an iPhone, Google Maps is my preferred choice over the pre-installed Apple Maps. It’s just more reliable and has better data.

Google Features

The Google ecosystem offers a wide variety of features.

Sam Singleton

I also missed direct access to the entire Google ecosystem. In my professional and personal life, I have come relying on Google apps like Drive and Google Workspaces. Google has done an amazing job connecting all their features seamlessly. It felt like I was missing one piece of the puzzle when I couldn’t integrate these features with my search engine experience.

Will I switch to DuckDuckGo permanently? Do you agree?

Should DuckDuckGo be your search engine? It all depends on your search engine. Do you place privacy first? Make the change. Are you looking for the best results and the most advanced features? Google is the best choice.

I intend to use DuckDuckGo as usual. I am a jaded millennial who grew up in an age of internet data tracking. I knew that my privacy would be compromised in order to get more precise results. What I discovered was quite simple from my little experiment is that most people are searching online for what they want.

While Google can accurately predict what you are looking for, DuckDuckGo requires a little more assistance. DuckDuckGo is capable of finding what you are looking for, but this does not mean it can’t. This means you might need to change your search parameters. It’s a great convenience to have the Google web browsing experience I’ve come to expect via cookies, auto-fill and personalization. The results are almost the same, even without the bells and whistles.

I think, if the results look the same, why not be more private?

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Nothing announces official launch date for new Ear (stick) AirPods alternatives

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Nothing announces official launch date for new Ear (stick) AirPods alternatives
Nothing Ear (stick) held by a model on white background



(Image credit: Nothing )

True to form, Nothing has just announced the full reveal date for its upcoming audio product, Ear (stick). 

So, an announcement about an announcement. You’ve got to hand it to Carl Pei’s marketing department, they never miss a trick.

What we’re saying is that although we still have ‘nothing’ conclusive about the features, pricing or release date for the Ear (stick) except an image of another model holding them (and we’ve seen plenty of those traipsing down the catwalk recently), we do have a date – the day when we’ll be granted official access to this information. 

That day is October 26. Nothing assures us that on this day we’ll be able to find out everything, including pricing and product specifications, during the online Ear (stick) Reveal, at 3PM BST (which is 10AM ET, or 1AM on Wednesday if you’re in Sydney, Australia) on nothing.tech (opens in new tab)

Any further information? A little. Nothing calls the Ear (stick), which is now the product’s official name, “the next generation of Nothing sound technology”, and its “most advanced audio product yet”. 

But that’s not all! Apparently, Ear (stick) are “half in-ear true wireless earbuds that balance supreme comfort with exceptional sound, made not to be felt when in use. They’re feather-light with an ergonomic design that’s moulded to your ears. Delivered in a unique charging case, inspired by classic cosmetic silhouettes, and compactly formed to simply glide into pockets.” 

Opinion: I need more than a lipstick-style case

Nothing Ear (stick) – official leaked renders pic.twitter.com/FrhKmRttmiOctober 1, 2022

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It’s no secret that I want Nothing’s earbuds to succeed in world dominated by AirPods; who doesn’t love a plucky, eccentric underdog? 

But in order to become some of the best true wireless earbuds on the market, there is room for improvement over the Nothing Ear 1, the company’s inaugural earbuds. 

Aside from this official ‘news’ from Nothing, leaked images and videos of the Ear (stick) have been springing up all over the internet (thank you, developer Kuba Wojciechowski) and they depict earbuds that look largely unchanged, which is a shame. 

For me, the focus needs to shift from gimmicks such as a cylindrical case with a red section at the end which twists up like a lipstick. Don’t get me wrong, I love a bit of theater, but only if the sound coming from the earbuds themselves is top dog. 

As the natural companions for the Nothing Phone 1, it makes sense for the Ear (stick) to take a place similar to that of Apple’s AirPods 3, where the flagship Ear (1) sit alongside the AirPods Pro 2 as a flagship offering. 

See, that lipstick case shape likely will not support wireless charging. That and the rumored lack of ANC means the Ear (stick) is probably arriving as the more affordable option in Nothing’s ouevre. 

For now, we sit tight until October 26. 

Becky is a senior staff writer at TechRadar (which she has been assured refers to expertise rather than age) focusing on all things audio. Before joining the team, she spent three years at What Hi-Fi? testing and reviewing everything from wallet-friendly wireless earbuds to huge high-end sound systems. Prior to gaining her MA in Journalism in 2018, Becky freelanced as an arts critic alongside a 22-year career as a professional dancer and aerialist – any love of dance starts with a love of music. Becky has previously contributed to Stuff, FourFourTwo and The Stage. When not writing, she can still be found throwing shapes in a dance studio, these days with varying degrees of success.  

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YouTube could make 4K videos exclusive to Premium subscribers

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YouTube could make 4K videos exclusive to Premium subscribers
Woman watching YouTube on mobile phone screen



(Image credit: Shutterstock / Kicking Studio)

You might soon have to buy YouTube Premium to watch 4K YouTube videos, a new user test suggests.

According to a Reddit thread (opens in new tab) highlighted on Twitter by leaker Alvin (opens in new tab), several non-Premium YouTube users have reported seeing 4K resolution (and higher) video options limited to YouTube Premium subscribers on their iOS devices. For these individuals, videos are currently only available to stream in up to 1440p (QHD) resolution.

The apparent experiment only seems to be affecting a handful of YouTube users for now, but it suggests owner Google is toying with the idea of implementing a site-wide paywall for access to high-quality video in the future.

So, after testing up to 12 ads on YouTube for non-Premium users, now some users reported that they also have to get a Premium account just to watch videos in 4K. pic.twitter.com/jJodoAxeDpOctober 1, 2022

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It’s no secret that Google has been searching for new ways to monetize its YouTube platform in recent months. In September, the company introduced five unskippable ads for some YouTube users as part of a separate test – an unexpected development that, naturally, didn’t go down well with much of the YouTube community. 

A resolution paywall seems a more palatable approach from Google. While annoying, the change isn’t likely to provoke the same level of ire from non-paying YouTube users as excessive ads, given that many smartphones still max out at QHD resolution anyway. 

Of course, if it encourages those who do care about high-resolution viewing to invest in the platform’s Premium subscription package, it may also be more lucrative for Google. After all, YouTube Premium, which offers ad-free viewing, background playback and the ability to download videos for offline use, currently costs $11.99 / £11.99 / AU$14.99 per month.

Suffice to say, the subscription service hasn’t taken off in quite the way Google would’ve hoped since its launch in 2014. Only around 50 million users are currently signed up to YouTube Premium, while something close to 2 billion people actively use YouTube on a monthly basis. 

Might the addition of 4K video into Premium’s perk package bump up that number? Only time will tell. We’ll be keeping an eye on our own YouTube account to see whether this resolution paywall becomes permanent in the coming months.

Axel is a London-based staff writer at TechRadar, reporting on everything from the newest movies to latest Apple developments as part of the site’s daily news output. Having previously written for publications including Esquire and FourFourTwo, Axel is well-versed in the applications of technology beyond the desktop, and his coverage extends from general reporting and analysis to in-depth interviews and opinion. 

Axel studied for a degree in English Literature at the University of Warwick before joining TechRadar in 2020, where he then earned a gold standard NCTJ qualification as part of the company’s inaugural digital training scheme. 

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Europe sets deadline for USB-C charging for (almost) all laptops

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Europe sets deadline for USB-C charging for (almost) all laptops

USB-C als Ladestandard in der EU

Mundissima / Shutterstock


Author: Michael Crider
, Staff Writer

Michael is a former graphic designer who’s been building and tweaking desktop computers for longer than he cares to admit. His interests include folk music, football, science fiction, and salsa verde, in no particular order.

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