Since I decided to open myself to search engines other than Google, I have fallen in love with Duckduckgo. Not only because of the privacy features that high rocketed its popularity after the NSA scandal, but also because of the nice layout, the customizable settings, the lack of advertising of other Google services and the fact that the logo is a weirdly drawn duck. So I was really happy to find the free Duckduckgo app for Android and iPhone. What I didn’t expect was that the app would be so well conceived. I guess I expected just an option to set Duckduckgo as the default search engine (I momentarily forgot that I now have an iPhone and can’t really change things), but this is much more.
When you open the app you get a search bar and a feed of popular articles from a wide list of sources that you can manage. You won’t be able to add new sources, but you can toggle on and off which ones you want from a long list planned to keep you in the loop. To give you an idea, this is what I have activated right now: CNN, BCC, AlJazeera, Wall Street Journal, Business Insider, New York Times, The Guardian, several Reddit feeds, The Atlantic, Medium, Digg, MIT, Slashdot, Ars Technica, Lifehacker, Smithsonian, The New Yorker and The Verge. All these sources are categorized in technology, news, sports, politics, lighthearted, business and a few other categories so you can easily choose what you want to read about. You can also suggest new sources that might get included in the list.
Now, what is really cool about Duckduckgo as a news aggregator is the social factor. What you’ll see from all these sources is their most popular stories: most shared, more active, more emailed, those that reach #1, etc. It really gives you the pulse of what is going on in the world, plus it has a neat option to boost stories related to one region (I set it to “Canada, english”). You can also save articles to read them later, share them straight from Duckduckgo via SMS, email and Twitter, and you can also copy the link or open it in Safari.
In brief, Duckduckgo for iPhone is a complete search, browser and news aggregator app. It makes me feel Internet portals might be back, because it made me realize how much of a pain is to keep jumping from one app to another to read, search or share information when using a mobile device.