When Mike Tigas first created the Onion Browser app for iOS in 2012, he never expected it to become popular. He was working as a newsroom Web developer at The Spokesman-Review in Spokane, Washington, at the time, and wanted a Tor browser app for himself and his colleagues. Expecting little interest, he then put Onion Browser on the Apple App Store at just $0.99/£0.69, the lowest non-zero price that Apple allows.
Fast forward to 2016, and Tigas found himself living in New York City, working as a developer and investigative journalist at ProPublica, while earning upwards of $2,000 a month from the app and worrying that charging for it was keeping anonymous browsing out of the hands of people who needed it.
So a few weeks ago, he made the app free. Since then, its popularity has exploded, with thousands of downloads recorded every day. The results of the recent US presidential election might have had something to do with this decision, and its impressive results, Tigas told Ars.
Onion Browser is the official Tor Project-endorsed Web browser for iOS. But it lacks some of the features available for Tor Browser (Linux, MacOS, Windows) and OrFox (Android), due to technical roadblocks peculiar to iOS.
The two biggest challenges Tor developers on iOS face are Apple’s requirement that all browsers use the iOS WebKit rendering engine, and the inability to run Tor as a system-wide service or daemon on iOS.
Developers have found workarounds to both problems, and iOS users can soon expect to see a new, improved Onion Browser, as well as a Tor VPN that routes all device traffic over Tor—probably in the first quarter of 2017.Share This: