Andrew Travers

Andrew Travers is a designer and researcher. He’s the author of Interviewing for research.

Browse, erase, repeat

Posted on 15 Feb 2018

In recent weeks, I’ve been trying out Firefox Focus, Mozilla’s “automatic private browsing” app for iOS and Android.

iOS doesn’t make it easy to use a different browser, but there’s a few reasons to like Firefox Focus. First, its utter simplicity. As the app says, “Browse. Erase. Repeat”. Second, it does a great job of making the invisible visible: quietly explaining all the ad and analytic trackers it blocks along the way without distracting from the experience of using it. Third, thanks to all that blocking, it’s lightning fast.

On the BBC (which I pay for, through the license fee) that’s 5 or 6 trackers. On The Guardian (which I pay for as a Guardian Partner) it’s usually somewhere between 10-20, on the The Verge (which I’d like to pay for), 30 plus. Same for Vox. The deeper you go on a site, the steeper the number of these invisible little limpet trackers attaching themselves to your browsing history.

I’d been wondering when I’d eventually stumble on a site that sent - or tried to send - 50. Well, it happened today. On Wired, on a piece about Quinn Norton, which feels appropriate somehow.