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[tor-talk] Orbot: Over 20 Million Served, Ready for the Next Billion

Orbot: Over 20 Million Served, Ready for the Next Billion


We recently published the latest release of Orbot (16.0.2!), and as
usual, we make it available via Google Play, as well F-Droid, and
through direct download on our website. Whether we like it or not,
Google keeps tracks of things like total installs and active installs
(i.e. not uninstalled), and reports on that for us through their
dashboard. While publishing this release, we noticed a milestone that
made us a bit proud… so pardon this humblebrag.

Since we release Orbot roughly 8 years ago, it has been installed more
than 20 million times, by people from hundreds of different countries
and walks of life. Even better, we have cross the 2 million active user
mark, with growing adoption in many “mobile first” parts of the world.

Of course, none of this would be possible without Tor Project itself, at
the core of what we do, and empowering us through the years, to pave the
way on free, open, mobile circumvention. We are also especially excited
about the direction things are headed with Tor’s new executive director,
Isabela Bagueros.

That is because Isa understands that the vast majority of the world,
including her home country of Brazil, accesses the internet using
smartphones, which essentially include surveillance, censorship and
privacy invasion as core features. Fortunately, she shares our optimism
that with the right software and service, we can fight back against this
and provide working solutions for human rights defenders, activists,
journalists and everyday people. We are really excited about Tor’s new
mobile initiative and their new stewardship of Orfox (soon to be Tor
browser for Android!). Also, if you didn’t know Isa is the one
responsible for Twitter adding proxy features into their Android app
many years ago!

With that global population in mind, we’ve focused this latest release
of Orbot on size and efficiency, with the goal of making the app less
than 10 megabytes in size. This 10MB limit qualifies Orbot to be
promoted to Android Go devices, which is Google’s attempt to serve “the
next billion”. You might have heard about lightweight “Go” editions of
apps like YouTube, that are both smaller in size, and have features that
enable data saving and offline use. With Orbot, we have started by
focusing on reducing our binary size (which adds up over time with
regular updates, etc), to reduce it by nearly 1/3, instead of just
letting it grow bigger and bigger with each release. Over the next year,
we will be working with the core Tor team to improve the core efficiency
of the service running on mobile architectures, and to implement new
features for data management, battery saving and more.

A deep, onion-infused thank you to the multitudes who have helped us get
to this point. We couldn’t have done it with out all of your patches,
bug reports, complaints, praise, donations and encouragement. Now, let’s
keep it up until we get to the billion install mark!

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