[tbb-dev] Tor Browser for Android with Orbot (was: Planning TBA-a3, the next major Tor Browser for Android milestone)

Matthew Finkel matthew.finkel at gmail.com
Tue Dec 11 17:44:36 UTC 2018

On Tue, Dec 11, 2018 at 12:02:08PM -0500, Nathan Freitas wrote:
> On 12/11/18 11:30 AM, Matthew Finkel wrote:
> > On Tue, Dec 11, 2018 at 04:51:23PM +0100, juanjo wrote:
> >> Why TB for Android now has Orbot integrated on the same app? I think it is
> >> not a smart move.
> > Hi!
> >
> > Thanks for the feedback. As we mentioned in the blog post [0]:
> >
> >    On the Android side, we reached another milestone in our efforts to
> >    bring Tor Browser for Android into stable shape. From now on it is not
> >    necessary anymore to download Orbot in order to use Tor Browser. We
> >    implemented a similar solution to our desktop Tor Browser flavors by
> >    shipping and using Orbot in Tor Browser directly. We plan to refine our
> >    approach for an even smoother user exprience in the future, so stay
> >    tuned.
> >
> > The dependency on Orbot resulted in a bad user experience and we want
> > Tor integration to be (mostly) seamless and (mostly) transparent.
> > Integrating Orbot into Tor Browser for Android provides a similar
> > experience as Tor Browser on desktop, where the end result is providing
> > the user with a web browser that preserves their privacy and
> > "Just Works".
> >
> > Can you explain why you don't think it was a smart move? We understand
> > this requires configuring both Orbot and Tor Browser in some situations,
> > and we are working on a way that solves this. Is there something else we
> > should consider?
> I think it is just the current user experience is bizarre. Integrating
> Tor into TBA makes sense, but booting up TBA and being greeted with the
> Orbot user interface is causing confusion with existing Orbot users. I
> know there is a medium term plan to move to a Tor Launcher UI, but there
> are many people out there already using TBA alpha release as the "new
> Orfox".

I agree this stepping stone is awkward and confusing. We are working on
changing the UI in the next release (not today's release).

> Here is what I would quickly do to resolve this:
> 1) Don't show the Orbot home screen at all. Start with the normal TBA
> home screen.
> 2) Automatically start Tor on boot (as if the user had clicked the Orbot
> start button)

I agree, and this is basically our current plan that we'll be
implementing over the next month. The most difficult piece of this is
communicating when Tor is bootstrapped (or if that fails).

> 3) Add a "Tor Settings" menu option that would open the Orbot settings.
> Everything that needs to be configured can be done here.
> 4) Remove all the VPN code from your fork of Orbot.

This is a good idea.

> Honestly, that should take just a few hours work, and would provide an
> immensely improved interim TBA+Tor user experience than what is shipped now.

Yes, I have no doubt this will significantly improve the UX.
Unfortunately, we are calling these alpha releases for a reason.

We're trying to reach feature parity with desktop as quickly as possible
while improving the app's usability with every release. We set a roadmap
for this, and we're working toward releasing a stable version that
people will want to use. This resulted in an intermediate stage where
there is some confusion, and I am sorry for this. We're trying to
provide people with an app that protects them as best we can.


More information about the tbb-dev mailing list