Lots of long-delayed updates

Hi everyone!

I’m sorry that I’m essentially the worst Patreon person ever? Sorry sorry sorry, super sorry.

If anybody is still reading this, I’m hugely grateful for your continued support -- and your patience -- as I’ve been pretty silent here. Things have become wildly busy at my day job over the past year or so, and I’ve fought burnout and quite a few personal life hurdles since the last time y’all heard from me. I’m still struggling a bit to give my side projects the attention they need.

But I’ve got a lot of updates for you.

  • I mentioned this in the previous post, but with help from the lovely Guardian Project (who originally developed Orbot/Orfox/Tor for Android), we got some funding to help get some more great hands on board to help out with the buildout of Onion Browser 2.0.
  • Also mentioned this in the previous post: We turned a lot of that work for the first run & connecting screen experience into a library called poe, which other Tor-using apps can use as well. We’ve also shared a lot of the lessons we’ve learned with the UX team at the Tor Project. We hope that using Tor continues to get easier for folks across different types of devices and across different levels of technical expertise.
  • Onion Browser 2.0 came out near the beginning of this year! As I've mentioned before, it contains a totally new user interface based on the Endless browser for iOS, and it also contains the user experience updates mentioned in the above two points. Endless normally doesn't allow other users of the source code to distribute apps in the App Store, and I'm grateful that the developer allowed us to build & distribute Onion Browser based off of it.
  • For Onion Browser 2.1, Localization Lab helped coordinate a lot of volunteer Transifex users, and Onion Browser got localized into Arabic, Bengali, Catalan, Chinese (Simplified and Traditional scripts), Dutch, French, German, Hindi, Hungarian, Icelandic, Irish, Japanese, Norwegian (Bokmål), Persian, Brazilian Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Tamil, Telugu, and Ukrainian. (Whew!)
  • In not-so-tangible things, I've met a lot with other Tor folks and have provided input on some decisions that can help mobile in the future (more on this below), and I've shared what I know from iObfs (obfs4 for iOS) with folks working on implementing newer pluggable transport types in an iOS-compatible way. I volunteered at the Tor vendor table at HOPE this year, too!
  • I'm certainly forgetting a LOT of other things?

Sadly, we're in another quiet period. I haven't had nearly any time to even think about Onion Browser over the past couple months due to work, and there isn't a lot of funding to get outside hands on this right now. So to be very honest with you there isn't a new post-2.1 roadmap just yet, but I do promise that Onion Browser will continue to get updates (and likely a new one in not too long, when Tor 0.3.4.x becomes "stable" instead of "release candidate").

That being said, even given my situation, there's a lot of work being done toward improving the mobile experience: Tor is now trying to work on a few things on their end that'll help resolve major issues on the Onion Browser end -- like the one where the Tor client inside the app gets totally stuck & can't connect to any sites anymore if your iPhone went to sleep.

I am also attending Tor's biannual planning meeting in about a month, where folks like me, folks who work on the core tor software, researchers, security trainers, and other great folk in the Tor community get together and work on a few things and try to make sure we're all on the same page.

I'm also optimistic about the future of Tor on mobile -- and Tor in general -- lately. It means good things that folks have recognized the importance of mobile such that resources are being devoted to turning the longstanding work on Orbot/Orfox into an official "Tor Browser for Android". The iOS work is still in it's infancy relative to Android (the restrictions on what apps on iOS can and can't do have a lot to do with that), but I do have a good feeling about where the community is at.

In any case, apologies for the wall of text (and the 14 month delay since the last post).

Again: I'm not sure what the upcoming roadmap is at this point (other than releases as necessary to upgrade the tor client in Onion Browser), but I do hope you'll stick around and I'm extremely grateful for the support.

Thanks y'all,