Best apps for more privacy on mobile

Privacy is a reason for great discussions involving the digital experience. With each app or page browsed, there is a series of information collected, and the destination of this content is not always well defined in general terms. In addition, there is constant exposure to crawlers while browsing the web.

There are several apps that focus on privacy and can replace tools that are frequently used in everyday life, such as messengers, browsers and GPS apps. Canaltech has prepared a list of options available for Android and iOS and can work as alternatives that protect your personal information. Check which ones!

1. Signal

Signal gained popularity during the first half of 2021 due to the change in WhatsApp’s privacy terms when it was recommended by Elon Musk and Edward Snowden. The reason is simple: the messaging app is focused on privacy, with an open source platform and encryption on all conversations and video calls.

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Signal is an alternative to WhatsApp (Image: André Magalhães/Screencapture)

The app protects your personal profile information and applies end-to-end encryption to all conversations on the platform. In addition, it offers other security and protection measures: a mandatory access PIN, option to blur the face in images, screen capture warning in conversations and the possibility to send messages that expire automatically.

In addition to these options, Signal also provides common features in apps such as WhatsApp and Telegram, the most popular in the category. It is possible to create groups, make audio and video calls and use the messenger on the computer with adapted versions.

2. Brave

Available for computers and cell phones, Brave promises two benefits: privacy and browsing speed. To do this, it blocks ads and crawlers, which makes page loading lighter and saves your mobile data.

Brave removes ads and trackers (Image: André Magalhães/Screenshot)

To justify this data savings, the app’s home page is a frame with the number of crawlers and ads blocked, estimated data saved, and estimated time gained in loading pages. This report can be split between weeks and months to put your internet usage in context during these periods.

There is also a rewards program that brings financial returns to those who use the application for a long time. Compared to other traditional browsers, Brave has few additional features to customize browsing. The functions are very simple and only involve managing tabs and favorite pages.

3. DuckDuckGo

DuckDuckGo is a privacy-focused search tool that does not store search history and has no trackers. If Google bothers you, it’s worth testing the tool for your daily searches. And, on cell phones, the platform also has its own browser for easy access.

Browse anonymously with DuckDuckGo (Image: André Magalhães/Screenshot)

In short, using DuckDuckGo Browser is an experience similar to private browsing in other popular browsers. Access history is not saved and all tabs are closed after closing the application. There’s also a shortcut that deletes all open content with just one tap.

If Brave has resource limitations, DuckDuckGo is even simpler and doesn’t allow you to save a page as a favorite, for example. However, the search engine itself is a useful option to find essential information, with its own system of images and maps.

4. ProtonMail

Compatibility: Android, iOS Price: free installation with paid option (R$ 329.90 per year)

ProtonMail is an open source email client using encryption. To use the platform, you need to create your own address, and all messages sent between service accounts automatically receive end-to-end encryption. For messages sent to addresses of other clients, the platform uses the OpenPGP standard to protect the content.

Email client uses end-to-end encryption in some cases (Image: André Magalhães/Screenshot)

Creating an account is free and the platform does not ask for personal information during registration. To complement the experience, there are integrations with Proton Calendar and Proton Drive, the company’s services for calendar creation and cloud storage.

In the mobile app, many functions are limited. A paid subscription is required to expand the storage limit to 5GB, add multiple accounts, and organize your inbox with filters and folders.

5. OsmAnd Maps

Compatibility: Android, iOS Price: free installation with paid option (from R$19.90 per year)

GPS navigation apps can have some privacy issues, especially when it comes to storing your location data. A safer alternative to this issue is OsmAnd Maps, which allows offline use after downloading maps for your region.

Application allows offline browsing (Image: André Magalhães/Screenshot)

OsmAnd Maps uses the OpenStreetMap database, an open source mapping system frequently updated by the community. The application has maps for all states and the Federal District, just download what you want to use after installation. To plot routes, the operation is simple and only needs the departure and arrival addresses.

However, the free version of the platform allows you to download only five maps, with no updates. OsmAnd Live subscription allows unlimited downloading, monthly updates, offline access to Wikipedia and maps with relief information. It is available for R$19.90 in the first year and R$27.90 for the following years.

6. Jitsi Meet

Video conferencing applications gained a lot of popularity after the isolation periods began in 2020. With so many options available, a more private alternative is the Jitsi Meet, which uses end-to-end encryption for all audio or video calls created in the platform.

Make end-to-end encrypted videoconferences (Image: André Magalhães/Screencapture)

It is not necessary to create a registration to use the application. Creating a room is simple and only requires a name for the call — the app even blocks very simple name suggestions to avoid the presence of unknown people. Then just share the link or type the room title to find the conversation.

Group calling on Jitsi Meet supports up to 100 people simultaneously, with options to broadcast live, share the screen, or assign permissions to speak. The app can be integrated with your personal schedule and has additional features to limit access to rooms with a password.

Do you use any app from this list? Comment!

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