DuckDuckGo Android app: a first look

Martin Brinkmann
Jun 27, 2013
Updated • Jun 27, 2013
Google Android, Search

As you may know if you are a regular here, I'm using DuckDuckGo as my main search engine and other search engines only if I cannot find what I'm looking for when I'm using it.  Even though I have been using the search engine for some time now I never really noticed that apps for iOS and Android were available as well.

Today I noticed that the team pushed out completely redesigned apps for both mobile operating systems making it the perfect opportunity to review the Android application here on the site.

DuckDuckGo Search & Stories offers more than just search, and while I would say that mixing contents is a bad thing most of the time, it does work considerable well this time.

When you start the app you get the search form on top, but below that a selection of articles or news items. It is not immediately clear what they do here or where they come from. You do see small icons that highlight the websites and services they have been pulled from but everything comes into place only when you open the apps' settings.

duckduckgo android app duckduckgo stories

A tap on change sources displays all news sources that the app supports. It is not your usual selection of newspaper news though even though you find some among the listing. Here you find Reddit categories, Techmeme, Slashdot or Hacker News that you can add to the apps' front page. Only the top stories are pulled from those sites though and if you want, you can switch completely to magazines and newspapers such as CNN, The New York Times, ESPN or The Guardian.

If you do not want to use the feature, you can change what is displayed on the apps' homescreen to recent searches or saved items instead.

The search displays suggestions as you type. If you start to type van gogh for instance, you will eventually get information about the artist that you can select right away. Unlike on other search engines, the suggestions display information so that you know what they are about.

search suggestions search results

You can tap on a suggestion to load the search results page immediately for the selected search term. It displays the usual zero click information on top and the results below that.

Another interesting feature of the app is that it supports the !bang syntax. This means that you can redirect your searches to other search engines, e.g. Amazon, Google or Bing, look up a location on Google Maps or search on Stack Overflow for programming help.

DuckDuckGo App Tips

  1. The application saves your recent searches by default. You can disable that in the settings. Alternatively, it is possible to clear the recent searches at any time in the settings as well.
  2. You can disable the auto complete feature of the app as well in the settings.
  3. Note that all !bang commands seem to be supported even though only a small selection of them are displayed when you type the ! in the search form. To get a list of all supported options enter !bang in the search and tap on the search button afterwards.
  4. You can change the font size and theme (light or dark) of the app in the settings.
  5. If you are predominantly looking for results from a specific region, use the region boost feature to pick a country that you want prioritized in the results.


If you are using DuckDuckGo on your desktop computer, then you will feel right at home when you are using the mobile app of the search engine. The stories feature may appeal to some users but not to all, but since you can display other information on the home screen instead by default, it does not really matter that it has been integrated into the application.

It does not seem possible to disable the stories completely though, as you can still open them even after changing the home screen to display different information.

Support for the !bang syntax and the informative suggestion feature are even more helpful when you search on mobile than when you are searching on the desktop.

All in all a great application that gets the thumbs up.


Tutorials & Tips

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  1. ilev said on August 4, 2012 at 7:53 pm

    Doesn’t Windows 8 know that www. or http:// are passe ?

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on August 4, 2012 at 7:57 pm

      Well it is a bit difficulty to distinguish between domains and files for instance.

    2. Leonidas Burton said on September 4, 2023 at 4:51 am

      I know a service made by google that is similar to Google bookmarks.

  2. VioletMoon said on August 16, 2023 at 5:26 pm

    @Ashwin–Thankful you delighted my comment; who knows how many “gamers” would have disagreed!

  3. Karl said on August 17, 2023 at 10:36 pm


    The comments section under this very article (3 comments) is identical to the comments section found under the following article:

    Not sure what the issue is, but have seen this issue under some other articles recently but did not report it back then.

  4. Anonymous said on August 25, 2023 at 11:44 am

    Omg a badge!!!
    Some tangible reward lmao.

    It sucks that redditors are going to love the fuck out of it too.

  5. Scroogled said on August 25, 2023 at 10:57 pm

    With the cloud, there is no such thing as unlimited storage or privacy. Stop relying on these tech scums. Purchase your own hardware and develop your own solutions.

    1. lollmaoeven said on August 27, 2023 at 6:24 am

      This is a certified reddit cringe moment. Hilarious how the article’s author tries to dress it up like it’s anything more than a png for doing the reddit corporation’s moderation work for free (or for bribes from companies and political groups)

  6. El Duderino said on August 25, 2023 at 11:14 pm

    Almost al unlmited services have a real limit.

    And this comment is written on the dropbox article from August 25, 2023.

  7. John G. said on August 26, 2023 at 1:29 am

    First comment > @ilev said on August 4, 2012 at 7:53 pm

    For the God’s sake, fix the comments soon please! :[

  8. Kalmly said on August 26, 2023 at 4:42 pm

    Yes. Please. Fix the comments.

  9. Kim Schmidt said on September 3, 2023 at 3:42 pm

    With Google Chrome, it’s only been 1,500 for some time now.

    Anyone who wants to force me in such a way into buying something that I can get elsewhere for free will certainly never see a single dime from my side. I don’t even know how stupid their marketing department is to impose these limits on users instead of offering a valuable product to the paying faction. But they don’t. Even if you pay, you get something that is also available for free elsewhere.

    The algorithm has also become less and less savvy in terms of e.g. English/German translations. It used to be that the bot could sort of sense what you were trying to say and put it into different colloquialisms, which was even fun because it was like, “I know what you’re trying to say here, how about…” Now it’s in parts too stupid to translate the simplest sentences correctly, and the suggestions it makes are at times as moronic as those made by Google Translations.

    If this is a deep-learning AI that learns from users’ translations and the phrases they choose most often – which, by the way, is a valuable, moneys worthwhile contribution of every free user to this project: They invest their time and texts, thereby providing the necessary data for the AI to do the thing as nicely as they brag about it in the first place – alas, the more unprofessional users discovered the translator, the worse the language of this deep-learning bot has become, the greater the aggregate of linguistically illiterate users has become, and the worse the language of this deep-learning bot has become, as it now learns the drivel of every Tom, Dick and Harry out there, which is why I now get their Mickey Mouse language as suggestions: the inane language of people who can barely spell the alphabet, it seems.

    And as a thank you for our time and effort in helping them and their AI learn, they’ve lowered the limit from what was once 5,000 to now 1,500…? A big “fuck off” from here for that! Not a brass farthing from me for this attitude and behaviour, not in a hundred years.

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