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I switched from Google to DuckDuckGo for private search: 5 major takeaways

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I switched from Google to DuckDuckGo for private search: 5 major 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 data tracking. If privacy is important to you, consider switching between Google Chrome and Firefox .. )

On paper, DuckDuckGo appears to be a worthy competitor. How does DuckDuckGo compare to Google? To find out, DuckDuckGo was my only choice and I used it for just one week. 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. I felt unaffected by the lack personalization throughout my search experience. 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 is not a knock on 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 clicking through pages after 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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New Pixel Watch leak reveals watch faces, strap styles and more

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New Pixel Watch leak reveals watch faces, strap styles and more
Google Pixel watch



The Google Pixel Watch is incoming
(Image credit: Google)

We’re expecting the Google Pixel Watch to make its full debut on Thursday, October 6 – alongside the Pixel 7 and the Pixel 7 Pro – but in the meantime a major leak has revealed much more about the upcoming smartwatch.

Seasoned tipster @OnLeaks (opens in new tab) has posted the haul, which shows off some of the color options and band styles that we can look forward to next week. We also get a few shots of the watch interface and a picture of it being synced with a smartphone.

Watch faces are included in the leak too, covering a variety of different approaches to displaying the time – both in analog and digital formats. Another image shows the watch being used to take an ECG reading to assess heartbeat rate.

Just got my hands on a bunch of #Google #PixelWatch promo material showing all color options and Watch Bands for the first time. Some details revealed as well…@Slashleaks 👉🏻 https://t.co/HzbWeGGSKP pic.twitter.com/N0uiKaKXo0October 1, 2022

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Full colors

If the leak is accurate, then we’ve got four silicone straps on the way: black, gray, white, and what seems to be a very pale green. Leather straps look to cover black, orange, green and white, while there’s also a fabric option in red, black and green.

We already know that the Pixel Watch is going to work in tandem with the Fitbit app for logging all your vital statistics, and included in the leaked pictures is an image of the Pixel Watch alongside the Fitbit app running on an Android phone.

There’s plenty of material to look through here if you can’t wait until the big day – and we will of course be bringing you all the news and announcements as the Google event unfolds. It gets underway at 7am PT / 10am ET / 3pm BST / 12am AEDT (October 7).


Analysis: a big moment for Google

It’s been a fair while since Google launched itself into a new hardware category, and you could argue that there’s more riding on the Pixel Watch than there is on the Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro – as Google has been making phones for years at this point.

While Wear OS has been around for a considerable amount of time, Google has been leaving it to third-party manufacturers and partners to make the actual hardware. Samsung recently made the switch back to Wear OS for the Galaxy Watch 5 and the Galaxy Watch 5 Pro, for example.

Deciding to go through with its own smartwatch is therefore a big step, and it’s clear that Google is envious of the success of the Apple Watch. It’s the obvious choice for a wearable for anyone who owns an iPhone, and Google will be hoping that Pixel phones and Pixel Watches will have a similar sort of relationship.

What’s intriguing is how Fitbit fits in – the company is now run by Google, but so far we haven’t seen many signs of the Fitbit and the Pixel lines merging, even if the Pixel Watch is going to come with support for the Fitbit app.

Dave is a freelance tech journalist who has been writing about gadgets, apps and the web for more than two decades. Based out of Stockport, England, on TechRadar you’ll find him covering news, features and reviews, particularly for phones, tablets and wearables. Working to ensure our breaking news coverage is the best in the business over weekends, David also has bylines at Gizmodo, T3, PopSci and a few other places besides, as well as being many years editing the likes of PC Explorer and The Hardware Handbook.

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