I generally don’t recommend alternative internet browsers for iOS. This is in part because I believe keeping the number of apps on the device to a bare minimum is a good idea, and because I have never really loved one. While the former has not changed, the latter may have. Firefox Focus is Mozilla’s new privacy-centric iOS browser, and this post is a Firefox Focus review.
Firefox Focus Review
Firefox Focus is an incredibly clean browsing experience. The interface is uncluttered and streamlined. This has some minor downsides – the app is definitely not a full-featured replacement for Safari, unless you are a very light user of your phone’s browser.
The app’s settings are simple and intuitive. Each setting is a simple ON/OFF toggle: Block ad trackers, block analytics trackers, block social trackers, block content trackers. All of these are really good things from a privacy and security perspective. I recommend enabling all of these options, though you are warned (and I have found this to be true) that enabling “Block other content trackers” may render some videos unplayable and break some websites. Tapping “About” at the top right of the settings page will offer a brief description of each setting.
Unless you are a very light user of your phone’s internet browser, Firefox Focus is probably not a full replacement for Safari. The browser does not support tabbed browsing. While excellent from a security standpoint, this will likely turn some users off. Instead, I see Firefox Focus as ideal for one of two use-cases.
Firefox Focus Use Cases
The first use-case for Firefox Focus is as a secondary browser for conducting those sensitive online activities. In this instance you would use Safari for your regular browsing, and Firefox Focus for more sensitive browsing. The second use-case for Firefox Focus is as an add-on for Safari. Enabling the Safari Integration slider brings all of the ad- and tracking-blockers from Firefox Focus to Safari, and this is my recommended usage of this app. I like this because like it or not, Safari is the default browser in iOS. This means if you click a link in a text or email, it will open in Safari, and I like having the additional protections of Firefox Focus.
There is also a downside to Safari Integration: if a site is broken by Firefox Focus, there is no quick or easy way to change the setting without switching apps. Next week we will take a look at SnowHaze, a browser that allows extreme customization for privacy and security, so stay tuned!