Using TOR on iPad with Onion Browser- Here is how to get started

TOR browser

Lately TOR was on the news and for those who do not know what is TOR then it is a free software to enable anonymous communication. The name is derived from an acronym for the original software project name “The Onion Router”. Tor directs Internet traffic through a free, worldwide, volunteer overlay network consisting of more than seven thousand relays to conceal a user’s location and usage from anyone conducting network surveillance or traffic analysis. Using Tor makes it more difficult for Internet activity to be traced back to the user: this includes “visits to Web sites, online posts, instant messages, and other communication forms”. Tor’s use is intended to protect the personal privacy of users, as well as their freedom and ability to conduct confidential communication by keeping their Internet activities from being monitored.

So to anonymize web browsing activity TOR distributes your traffic across a series of TOR servers, which obfuscates your IP behind those Tor servers. While TOR is typically used on the but you can also access and use a TOR browser on the iPhone and iPad too. For quick and easy TOR access from iOS, there is a third party TOR app for iPhone and iPad called Onion Browser. It’s free and does the job of connecting to TOR. The Onion Browser app offers simple TOR usage from iOS should you wish to access onion URLs or have some degree of enhanced anonymity with your web browsing.

Onion browser might have derived its name from Onion Routing. Onion routing according to Wikipedia is implemented by encryption in the application layer of a communication protocol stack, nested like the layers of an onion. Tor encrypts the data, including the next node destination IP address, multiple times and sends it through a virtual circuit comprising successive, randomly selected Tor relays. Each relay decrypts a layer of encryption to reveal only the next relay in the circuit in order to pass the remaining encrypted data on to it. The final relay decrypts the innermost layer of encryption and sends the original data to its destination without revealing, or even knowing, the source IP address. Because the routing of the communication is partly concealed at every hop in the Tor circuit, this method eliminates any single point at which the communicating peers can be determined through network surveillance that relies upon knowing its source and destination.

So Onion Browser is the original open-source Tor-powered browser for iOS. Onion Browser helps you bypass censorship and access the internet with more safety and privacy.

Read more about Onion Browser on the official Tor Project Blog

Features of Onion Browser app

Features on Onion Browser

  • You can browse the internet over Tor
  • The websites do not see your real IP address.
  • ISPs and insecure wireless networks cannot track your browsing.
  • You can access onion sites that are only accessible over Tor.

Using TOR on iPhone or iPad with Onion Browser

First download the Onion Browser app on your iPad which is all free

Launch the Onion Browser app in iOS and choose “Connect to TOR” on launch

Onion Browser for TOR

Tor will initialize and when completed you will see a browser screen indicating it has successfully connected to the TOR network

Once the TOR connection has completed, browse the web as usual in the Onion Browser app

Like all TOR browsers, Onion Browser is missing some features and abilities, and not all websites will work as expected or render correctly within the app. That is done to try and mitigate data and IP leaking, and so turning off various abilities in whatever Tor browser is necessary.

Keep in mind that browsing the web with TOR is slow, this is because your network traffic is being distributed around the globe in an attempt to anonymize you and increase your privacy. That speed reduction is experienced in any TOR browser, it’s not just Onion Browser.

You can renew and request a new IP at anytime in the TOR browser, but you may need to force quit the app and relaunch the Onion Browser for that to be successful.

Onion Browser for settings

It is not necessary that you need TOR but you can if you require specific privacy. This app requires iOS 8.2 or later compatible iOS device to run smooth. Though the app is all free but there are in app purchases where a small Onion Browser Tip costs AU$1.99