Meet the private browsers
Firefox Focus, DuckDuckGo, and Brave are all similar but with some crucial differences.
Firefox Focus, available only for mobile devices like iPhones and Android smartphones, is bare-bones. You punch in a web address and, when done browsing, hit the trash icon to erase the session. Quitting the app automatically purges the history. When you load a website, the browser relies on a database of trackers to determine which to block.
DuckDuckGo, also available only for mobile devices, is more like a traditional browser. That means you can bookmark your favorite sites and open multiple browser tabs.
When you use the search bar, the browser returns results from the DuckDuckGo search engine, which the company says is more focused on privacy because its ads do not track people’s online behavior. DuckDuckGo also prevents ad trackers from loading. When done browsing, you can hit the flame icon at the bottom to erase the session.
Brave is also more like a standard web browser, with anti-tracking technology and features like bookmarks and tabs. It includes a private mode that must be turned on if you don’t want people scrutinizing your web history.
Brave is also so aggressive about blocking trackers that it almost always blocks ads entirely in the process. The other private browsers blocked ads less frequently.
For most people, not seeing ads is a benefit. But for those who want to give back to a publisher whose ads are blocked, Brave hosts its own ad network that you can opt into. In exchange for viewing advertisements that do not track your behavior, you earn a cut of the revenue in the form of a token. You can then choose to give permits to websites that you like. (Only web publishers that have a partnership with Brave can receive permits.)
Battle of the browsers
I tested all three browsers on my iPhone, setting each as my default browser for a few days.
All have a button to see how many trackers they blocked when loading a website. To test that, I visited nypost.com, the website of The New York Post, which packed 83 trackers without any tracking prevention. With DuckDuckGo, 15 of the nypost.com trackers were blocked. With Brave, it was 22. And Firefox Focus blocked 47.