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How can beta testing help develop new privacy features?

· 5 min read
How can beta testing help develop new privacy features?

One of the hardest things when it comes to software development is testing. Helping developers test a beta version of their apps and services, can significantly improve the quality of code and accelerate progress. In early August DuckDuckGo started testing out their new email protection feature. Since I’m a DuckDuckGo user I’ve decided to help out developers with joining their beta program.

Firstly, I have to thank Alexey for allowing me to write for TestingCatalog. It’s an honor to be able to host a post on such an awesome website. I’ve been a big fan of TestingCatalog and I completely love Alexey’s work.

For those of you who don’t know me, my name is Zan and I’m the creator of Zheano Blog. I absolutely love writing, and recently event talking, about technology. Zheano Blog is all about tech, wallpapers, interesting ideas and more.

Zheano Blog - Technology, Wallpapers and more
Personal blog about technology, productivity, design, privacy, operating systems and anything we find interesting.

Back in the golden Google Plus days, I was a huge fan of beta features. I loved exploring, finding and testing out unreleased features and apps. I think there’s this special feeling whenever you’re trying out something new. Sometimes discovering new features is like getting a new gadget, all brand new and shiny.

I’ve been testing Android beta’s for years and I just can’t describe the feeling when I installed a fresh beta image on my barely working Nexus 6P. Many times I was invited to test unreleased apps and I quite enjoyed the experience. Today, I don’t test as much as I used to, but I love that blogs like TestingCatalog exist, so I can always be updated about new and upcoming features.

In the past few years, I’ve shifted my focus from testing and discovering new features to privacy. I believe that privacy is a new internet frontier us, geeks, must defend. I loved beta testing because it gave me a sense of community and satisfaction of having something unavailable to the public. With privacy, everyone should be able to feel private and safe online.

In my opinion privacy, today is very neglected when it comes to software development advancements. We’re at the crossroads where the tech community can choose privacy as a default or no privacy at all. Even though journalists usually talk about an “average” consumer, I think early testers and enthusiasts have a much greater influence on the product's future development.

TestingCatalog is one of the most influential blogs when it comes to beta testing and early release features. The next decade is going to be crucial for beta testers, early adopters and enthusiasts to challenge the developers for a more private alternative.

So I’ve been testing out DuckDuckGo’s new email protection feature for almost a month now. To be completely honest, I didn’t expect it to work so well as it did. I had a full-on experience using DuckDuckGo’s default app on my smartphone and the DuckDuckGo Privacy Essentials extension on my browser.

Privacy, simplified. — DuckDuckGo Browser Extension & Mobile App
Seamlessly take control of your personal information, no matter where the Internet takes you.

I have to mention that Alexey already wrote about DuckDuckGo’s new privacy features. You can read his post here. In this article, I want to give away some of my own opinions and experiences I had with the new privacy features from DuckDuckGo.

DuckDuckGo has been my default search engine for a couple of years now. I’ve been using it on and off, but for the past year or so I’m quite satisfied with the service. I wouldn’t recommend DuckDuckGo to everyone, but if you want to try something new, you might be surprised by the difference in the results compared to Google.

I actually signed up for around 2-3 services using the randomly generated email - a new feature from DuckDuckGo. This feature is one of the best email-related features I’ve used in a long time. It’s so seamless and easy to use. The accessibility standpoint of this feature represents a genuine leap in what privacy tools should be.

Whenever I received an email via my @duck.com address and the email contains a tracker, I get this message at the top of the email. It’s a good experience since the message is visible to the everyday user, while also suggesting everything was already done for you.

DuckDuckGo Privacy Browser - Apps on Google Play
Browse the web privately, search anonymously, and escape ad trackers.

If you decide to click on the banner you get redirected to a website shown in the picture below. DuckDuckGo gave me all of the important information about the trackers removed and the option to stop receiving emails to my private Duck Address.

An option to stop receiving annoying emails from spammy newsletters is just amazing. Now I can finally feel to share my randomized DuckDuckGo email address without worrying about spam in my inbox.

I believe that with my beta testing I can help DuckDuckGo and others improve their services for the masses. Even today, I believe this DuckDuckGo’s new feature is stable enough that I can recommend it to everyone. This feature is genuinely useful to me in my day-to-day life. I feel honored that I could test this DuckDuckGo’s new feature. I also feel extremely grateful to be able to post this guest post on TestingCatalog. Now that you know about the Private Duck Address you might want to consider subscribing to Zheano Letter, my tech newsletter - however, I do offer an unsubscribe button that actually works.

Alexey, a big thank you for having me on your blog. I absolutely love your content, keep up the good work!