You probably do not need us to tell you that keeping one’s online activities and browsing history anonymous is pretty much as important on one’s smartphone device as it is on one’s desktop and laptop.
It doesn’t really matter why you want to become anonymous really.
You may have a need of thwarting various advertisers that try to follow and record you online or you may not want a big technology company building up your profile based on your data and contacts.
It is also possible that you may not want any of that and simply want to keep your online browsing activities just to yourself.
After all, you should never put yourself in a position where your privacy is left to chance.
More and more online consumers are making use of smartphone devices in order to carry out sensitive work.
Because of that, it is very important that we all learn how to stay anonymous in the modern world of the web.
With that said, you should keep in mind that when it comes to the online world there are different kinds of anonymity that you need to consider.
First up there is the local anonymity.
If you achieve this level that no one can record your browsing while on your device.
But different advertisers and sites can still log data on you.
Then comes the tracking anonymity.
If you are able to achieve this level of anonymity then even advertisers and websites are unable to follow you across the whole of the web.
As far as VPN service providers go, they usually focus on a slightly different type of online privacy.
That privacy is what you have at the level of web connection.
VPN services are good at two things.
They make the user’s privacy more private.
And they also make it way harder anyone to eavesdrop on you.
All of this does not mean that each and every VPN service provider is able to make you totally anonymous.
Throughout the duration of this guide, we will cover a couple of more areas that you should consider the next time you think about your privacy.
Before moving on, we would also like you to bear in mind that when it comes to the online world, it is very difficult to stay completely anonymous at all times given that most modern users have no choice but to sign into different services available on the web.
We’re talking about all the Amazons and the Facebooks here.
Of course, you can always try to limit how much data such technology companies get to collect on you.
Again, you can’t stop them completely but at least to some decent extent.
Even with their access restricted to your data, there is no way for you to not let them know when and where you logged in.
It is also a lost cause to try and stop them from recording what you did while you were connected to the online world.
There is no safeguard that you can currently put up to completely stop the onslaught.
Table of Contents
Start developing the habit of browsing in incognito mode
This is perhaps the easiest and quickest way to get started on making your mobile web browsing a lot more private than before.
All you have to do is start using the incognito mode.
Sometimes, it is called the browser mode.
On Google Chrome, it is known as the New Incognito Tab if you are on the Android platform.
If you are making use of Safari on the iOS platform then you need to hit Private when you are on the overview screen for tabs.
When you do so, all of your browsing and search history along with the cookies that you might have collected get annihilated as soon as you close the tab.
The Incognito tab does not make you absolutely anonymous.
Even if you make use of the Incognito mode available on your browser, there is nothing stopping your ISP or internet service provider from monitoring your activities and recording what you are doing in the online world if you have connected to the internet via its network.
So you should only think of the Incognito mode as an easy and quick way of avoiding situations where you may leave a trace on your tablet or smartphone device.
Moreover, you should also make sure that when you are using the Incognito Mode, you do not sign in to any given service.
Because that would completely defeat the main aim of using the incognito mode.
If you sign into a service like Google, the company is going to record pretty much everything that you search for while in the online world.
It will record everything to type and everything you see.
Perhaps this is a good time to let you know that marketers and advertising companies often pool large amounts of information which different websites have collected on you.
And you make it easy for everyone to track you once you have signed in to a given service on any given site.
Signing in to a service while you are incognito basically means that you have effectively taken off your anonymous incognito disguise.
You have taken it off and now the whole world is free to see who as you are.
Web browser settings you should tweak in Google Chrome
Now, despite everything that we have mentioned so far, there is actually not a lot wrong with you not using the Incognito Mode and simply making use of the default web browser available on your Android device.
However, we will say that if you want to keep on doing that then you need to make some tweaks and change some settings.
You already know that you have got to start making use of the private and incognito mode.
Now, in addition to those steps, what you also need to do is to open up the available Settings menu on Google Chrome.
Then you should have no problems in accessing a good number of other tools which will help you limit what Alphabet/Google and the large world of the web can and cannot store about you.
Here we go.
First, you need to tap on the option that says Privacy.
This is where you can actually put a stop to Google collecting tons and tons of data on you and using that data to make search suggestions for you.
Google can actually use data from your previous sessions browsing the web to tell you where you would want to go next.
Now though, it is possible for anyone and everyone to put a limit on the type of information that sites can search for and store about a given user.
These limits change according to whether or not the user in question has uploaded payment methods on his/her smartphone device.
You can always click the Clear browsing data option in order to wipe all of your history regarding the websites that you have visited in the past.
Doing so will also make sure that all of your cookies get deleted as well.
There are lots of other things that you can do with the settings that are available in Google Chrome.
Now, if you go to Site Settings and make your way to Cookies then it is possible for you to put a limit on the extent that third-party advertisers and other such companies track you.
You do remember that they can now track you across a multiple number of sites right?
Yeah, and it doesn’t matter if you are on your tablet or your phone.
Thankfully, with Google, you can limit the number of sites that get the privilege of tracking and identifying you via location.
Again, you need to make sure that you have ticked the box that says Block third-party cookies in order to do all of the above that we have mentioned.
Now, of course, whenever a situation arises where you have to sign in to your Chrome account, Google is going to be on you.
The company is going to collect data on the sites that you make a trip to and collect general data as well.
There are tons of things you can do about that.
Click here to read our comprehensive guide on that.
How to make Safari more privacy-friendly
Again, you will have to tweak some web browser settings.
What do we mean by that?
We mean that even though Safari on the iOS platform blocks third-party cookies by default, you need to do more.
To do that, you first have to launch Safari from your iOS settings menu and then see the option that says Prevent Cross-Site Tracking.
You need to hit the toggle and switch it on.
As was the case with Google Chrome on the Android platform, you also have the option of Block All Cookies on Safari.
Now, remember that if you enable this option then that will probably add a ton of loading time to your overall web browsing experience especially if you tend to spend a lot of time being signed into different services and sites.
Okay, so that does it for advertisers and cookies.
What does Safari store on you?
Well, we do not know the full extent of it and neither does anyone else.
However, you can start by turning off options such as,
- Preload Top Hit
- Safari Suggestions
- Search Engine Suggestions
If you do so, you will stop your Safari browser from making second-guesses on where you want to go and where you are likely to go in your next browsing session.
Since we are talking about Apple here, you do not have to think about your account being linked to a personal profile.
So Apple does not have anything on you if we are talking about its cloud services.
However, keep in mind that some of your data does have to go through the process of syncing across a multiple number of devices.
Don’t worry about Apple moving your data though since it is in a completely encrypted form.
Now, if you want to clear all of your saved and existing browsing data along with your browsing history and cookies then you need to scroll in the downward direction a little bit till you reach the bottom of your Safari’s settings page.
Once there, you need to tap the option that says Clear History and Website Data.
After that, you will need to confirm the above-mentioned action.
Again, once you have managed to clear all of your history from all of your devices then you need to sync your official iCloud account.
Think about changing your web browser
You might not have heard of this but the Tor Browser has finally made its way to the Android platform.
And pretty much like the Tor Browser’s desktop counterpart, the Android version has gone through a tough development phase.
It is specifically made for people who want security and privacy on their mobile devices.
Keep in mind for now that the Tor Project has dedicated all its products and work to the aim of enabling a robust and working online anonymity.
The way The Tor Project works is it routes the user’s traffic via encrypted connections along with servers that it itself controls.
In the process of doing so, it makes it extremely hard for any actor to keep permanent tabs on a given user such as yourself.
Not only that but the Tor Project also put a vast amount of severe restrictions on various background scripts which data collectors and advertisers love.
The Tor Browser has no problems in isolating cookies.
Moreover, it removes all cookies after each and every user browsing session.
This browser also blocks third-party trackers especially those that try to monitor you over a multiple number of websites.
Not only that but the Tor Project also takes additional steps in order to prevent websites from identifying a given user via the user’s browsing information and/or device.
With all of that said, the Tor Browser is not something that we would call the one and only web browser focused on privacy.
At least that is not the case for smartphone devices that have access to the iOS App Store and Android’s Google Play Store.
There is also a web browser by the name of Brave.
Our research shows that this web browser is at its most potent when it is trying to block advertising tracking as well as advertisements themselves.
If users properly install Brave on their mobile machines, that should leave them with a super clean and rather lean web browsing experience.
Pretty much like The Tor Project, the Brave web browser stops device fingerprinting and cross-site tracking.
Both of these online processes are heavily used to identify users even if they have not signed in to any of their services, app and/or devices.
With the Brave browser on your side, you also get access to the standard privacy options you get with all other mainstream web browsers.
What do we mean by that?
We mean that the Brave web browser has a setting where it forces HTTPS connections whenever and wherever they are possible.
If you have been a long time reader of our site then you would know by now that HTTPS is far more secure than HTTP.
But that’s not the point.
The point is, you should at least try Brave.
Brave has other useful features as well.
It comes with a battery saving feature along with a data usage tool as well.
All you have to do to control things which are allowed and not allowed on a given site is to tap the icon in the shape of the Brave Logo.
It is present in the toolbar section so this part of the process should not be a problem for you.
Perhaps this is a good time to mention that you may want to re-think and allow advertisements on the websites that you visit regularly and like.
Some sites do rely on ad revenue to support themselves.
And you can support such websites by simply seeing their advertisements.
Not a bad deal if you ask us.
Your quest to have perfect anonymity online doesn’t end with using or not using Brave.
You can go even further and opt for a search engine that is totally focused on privacy as well.
We are talking about DuckDuckGo.
DuckDuckGo takes pretty much the same approach to privacy and anonymity as does Brave.
The only difference is that if you make use of DuckDuckGo then by default, your search engine becomes DuckDuckGo rather than the old Google.
There is one other neat trick that we would like to mention here.
DuckDuckGo actually shows you a privacy grade rating for a given website that you go to.
So before accessing a website, you can quickly glance at that rating and understand how eager some sites are compared to others when it comes to tracking the user.
Remember, websites are not the only entities trying to track you.
Advertising companies also want a piece of you.
And while we are on the subject of privacy-focused search engines and web browsers, we should mention Mozilla Firefox Focus as well.
Our research shows that Mozilla Firefox Focus goes pretty much above and beyond your regular Mozilla Firefox.
More specifically, it automatically blocks web trackers and advertisements.
Not only that, Firefox Focus also provides users with easy to understand and make use of, options for erasing their web browser history.
It even has an option where it does not allow the history to build up, to begin with.
With that said, we should also make it clear that when it comes to privacy and online anonymity, Mozilla Firefox Focus is not as comprehensive as some of the other web browsers that we have listed so far.
However, we cannot ignore the fact that this web browser is simple to install and use.
Get a hold of a VPN service
Not surprisingly, we have saved the best for the last.
With the help of a VPN service, you can gain extra protection against every bad actor that tried to snoop on your browsing habits and online activities.
VPN services come in handy in a variety of places.
From coffee shops to home networks, VPN protects you from hackers and your local authorities who abuse their rights.
All you have to do is to install a VPN or Virtual Private network on your tablet or your phone.
You need to bear in mind that VPN services primarily focus on successfully disguising the user’s web browsing habits and location from any and all actors in the outside world.
If you want to have the best results possible in terms of privacy and anonymity (in other words, in terms of web trackers and advertisements) you should probably use VPN services alongside all the tips that we have shared with you so far in this guide.
When it comes to VPN services, you have a ton of options.
Some free, others paid.
For the sake of your own safety and privacy, we hope that you will stick with paid options.
This guide is not about how to buy the best VPN in the world.
But if you want to know more about which VPN service will suit you the best in your quest to become anonymous in the online world then click here to read our extensive guide on how to do so.
Some sites will not have a problem spitting out a known name in the VPN industry like Hotspot Shield, Windscribe and/or TunnelBear.
But we are here to tell you that each VPN user is different.
And hence needs a different VPN.
Read our guide for more information.