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DuckDuckGo, the search engine that doesn't track you, makes terrific overhaul official

DuckDuckGo, the privacy-themed search engine, has received a major redesign with enhanced search tools that could usher in a wave of new users.

The tools, announced Tuesday, include a variety of requested changes, including auto-suggest and local search, that make the site function more like Google, but with DuckDuckGo’s privacy promises still in place.

PCWorld went hands-on with DuckDuckGo's new features: DuckDuckGo, the search engine that doesn't track you, finally challenges Google

The updates are available on DuckDuckGo’s desktop and mobile websites. Updates to the search engine’s apps on iOS and Android probably will be coming soon.

The changes are intended to give more intelligent results and reduce clutter. In addition to auto-suggest, the site can also now handle more meanings in its results.

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DuckDuckGo new (left) and old (right), searching for "Thai in San Francisco." (Click to enlarge.)

Search for the word “Blue,” and the site’s meanings tab displays cards for several different results, including the color but also the Pokémon video game Blue version, the Russian Blue cat breed and the Indianapolis Colts NFL mascot.

Also, the site can now give instant answers above links and ads, similar to Google’s increasing display of card-based results through its Knowledge Graph. DuckDuckGo’s instant answers are sourced from hundreds of partners across the Web through its open-source community.

DuckDuckGo also unveiled image and video search, displaying them front and center on the search results page.

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The overhauled DuckDuckGo's "instant answer" for China. (Click to enlarge.)

There is also improved local search, featuring cards for specific businesses or locations and an interactive map. DuckDuckGo may have displayed a single local result before, but on a static map.

Searching in the dark

DuckDuckGo’s search engine is one of a number of online services that have gained increased attention following disclosures around government surveillance leaked last year by former U.S. National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden. According to its privacy policy, DuckDuckGo keeps no record of users’ searches, prevents them from being leaked to other sites, and does not log IP addresses. The site still has ads, but they’re not targeted using personal details.

The company now hosts roughly 150 million searches per month, said CEO Gabriel Weinberg, up from 50 million per month a year ago. “Our hope is that our focus on smarter search and real privacy will appeal to a significant percentage of people,” the company said. By way of comparison, Google says it processes more than 100 billion searches per month.

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