In a recent post, we talked about seven of the best browsers for privacy and security. Today we’re diving deep into Bromite, an open-source browser that it’s “ungoogled”. We’ll see what exactly that means for your privacy, why you should consider using Bromite in the first place, and everything you need to know.
Why you should consider changing your browser?
First off, let’s get this clear: your browser has a large degree of control over everything you do within it. So if your browser isn’t transparent and doesn’t care about your privacy, your information might be compromised. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to stop using that browser at all. That browser might still be useful for certain things and you’ll use another one, let’s say Bromite, for other purposes. Why?
Because some browsers prioritize security over privacy, some give you privacy but not security, and some, like Bromite, protect your privacy a lot but not like Tor. And that’s when the term compartmentalization becomes relevant.
If you care about your privacy, you should know about compartmentalization. We spend a lot of time on the Internet, most of us use it both for professional and personal reasons. So compartmentalization is about having a browser for, let’s say, work, and another browser for social media accounts. This varies, of course.
You can choose to use three different browsers: Chrome for email and other accounts, Bromite for random queries, and Tor for leaking private government documents like Snowden. I’m kidding. The point is: there are browsers that are better for watching YouTube videos, others that are excellent for logging in to your personal accounts, etc.
Most of the time, it’s not about choosing one browser for everything like it’s your one and only. It’s up to you and your needs to find the perfect combination that works for you. In this post, we’ll see what Bromite has to offer to you. But you can go check this article to see other great browsers that care about your privacy and security. Moreover, Bromite itself recommends using Tor if you’re a journalist or someone living in countries with freedom limitations.
But even if you are not, there’s still a lot of data that websites know about you. Let’s talk about one of the main ones:
What’s hurting your privacy: Fingerprinting
Fingerprinting is a series of techniques that companies use to track users during their visits and know what they are interested in. This data helps build your profile, something that marketing campaigns use to target you.
Fingerprinting is also called the cookieless monster. If that name alone doesn’t concern you, we have a problem. Unlike with cookies, websites rarely ask you permission to track you with fingerprinting. And because you don’t have enough information about this technique if any, you can’t take the measures to avoid it. Some of the data that is collected through fingerprinting is:
- IP address.
- Time zone, geolocation, and language.
- Screen resolution.
- The version of software running and more.
Luckily, Bromite Browser takes care of this issue. So let’s see what Bromite has to offer, shall we?
Bromite is an open-source browser that first started being developed back in 2017 by csagan5.
The browser, like many others, relies on a customized version of Chromium. This means that it’s based on the code that underlies Google Chrome: that’s why you might find its design very similar to Google’s browser. However, and this is interesting, Bromite is ungoogled. So even though it retains the default Chromium experience as closely as possible, it also features several tweaks to enhance things like privacy, control, and transparency (all of which Chrome lacks). You’ll find that ungoogled-chromium browsers like Bromite remove:
- All remaining background requests to any web services while building and running the browser.
- Code specific to Google web services.
- All use of pre-made binaries from the source code and replace them with user-provided alternatives when possible.
You can read more about ungoogled-chromium on this page of Github but you get the point.
Ungoogled-chromium was first developed for Linux, then for other operating systems. You first notice that Bromite is ungoogled when you need to download it. Bromite is for Android but you won’t find it in Google Play Store. You’ll have to go to bromite.org, select your architecture and download it from there. You’ll also need to allow installation of its APK in your mobile’s settings. Don’t worry, we’ll walk you through it later. But note that currently, Bromite is only available for Android Lollipop (v5.0, API level 21) and above.
Users choose Bromite for its good security, fingerprint randomization, and some niche features like a custom DNS blocker from within the browser. Here are all its main features.
- The option to always be in incognito mode. This way, it won’t store your browsing history or cookies between browsing sessions.
- Bromite supports the configuration of proxies.
- Disable smart search by default.
- Fingerprinting mitigation.
- Remove click-tracking and AMP from search results: this helps prevent websites from creating a shadow profile of you based on your click history.
- Customizable adblocking filters via user-provided URL (see https://www.bromite.org/custom-filters). Bromite claims that thanks to its powerful ad block engine, “it’s quite possible that you won’t see a single ad during your browsing session… unless you manually whitelist certain pages”.
- Privacy enhancement patches from Iridium, Inox patchset, Brave, and ungoogled-chromium projects.
- Dark mode.
- Accessibility preference to force tablet UI.
- Select your default search engine from a long list: DuckDuck Go, Bing, Google, Yahoo!, Qwant, and StartPage, among others.
- Available in English, Hindi, Spanish, French, Hebrew, and 34 more languages.
Bromite offers updates as soon as there’s a new release of Chromium so it’s always updated. You might even find features in Bromite that Google hasn’t added to Chrome yet. And, as it blocks tracking and ads, it’s super fast.
Bromite is completely free. It doesn’t depend on ads for profit, either, so if you want to support its development and the costs for the build system, you can help with a donation.
How to install the Bromite Browser?
Okay, guys, so here comes the difficult part. Bromite isn’t on the Google Play Store so we can’t just go there and install it like any other app. If you ever download an APK, you’re already familiar with this and it’s probably going to be a piece of cake for you. But, if you never sideload apps that aren’t on the official app store, you need to read this list of steps. Although we have to admit, installing “unknown apps” is way easier on Android than on iOS.
Moreover, for your peace of mind, you must know that tons of developers choose to stay out of the Play Store to preserve a free and open philosophy, and Bromite is part of this world of completely legal apps beyond the Google domain. So follow these steps to start using it:
1. Make sure you have “Install unknown sources” enabled. To do that, just go to Settings > Install unknown apps, then choose the current browser you’re using. In my case, it’s Chrome and I already have this setting enabled.
2. Find out your phone architecture and Android version. Bromite has processor-specific and version-specific builds so you need to know this information.
There’s a free app on the Play Store called Droid Hardware Info that will tell you everything you need to know about your phone. But you can also just make a quick search and find this information online. Moreover, if you bought your phone in the last 7 years, Bromite supports your Android version: it only requires Android 4.1 or higher.
3. Time to install Bromite. Head to bromite.org and scroll down to “Download Bromite”. Select your phone’s processor type and Android version, then tap “Download”. You might have to choose where to download it and then confirm. And now you have Bromite!
In case you have F-droid, the catalog of FOSS (Free and Open Source Software) apps for Android, you can also download Bromite directly from there and receive all stable and beta updates through it.
Why choose Bromite Browser?
There’re plenty of browsers that focus on privacy, so why choose Bromite? Well, among the ungoogled-chromium browsers out there -and, as we pointed out, ungoogled-chromium are key to good privacy- Bromite is the fastest and its developer keeps a very close eye on people’s needs and comments. We previously said that Tor is more private, sure, but Tor is also very slow, and you don’t want it to be your default browser. If you are looking for a browser that you can use constantly, then Bromite Browser is the best one.
We covered a lot in this post so let’s sum up. If you are looking for a browser that doesn’t track you but it focuses on your privacy, Bromite Browser is a great option.
Pros of Bromite Browser:
- Open-source and free.
- Beautiful and familiar user interface (UI).
- Powerful ad block engine.
- Fingerprint randomization.
Cons of Bromite Browser:
The only con is it’s not as easy to install as other browsers like Firefox or Edge because it’s not in Google Play Store.
Bromite Browser is an excellent browser for any privacy enthusiast that wants a fast and beautiful browser and has no problem with downloading apps outside the Play Store.