DuckDuckGo, the search engine that doesn't track you, finally challenges Google

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DuckDuckGo, the privacy-focused "search engine that doesn't track you," saw its usage skyrocket in the wake of Edward Snowden's NSA revelations, but that privacy came at a price: While Google and Bing prettied up their design with card-like interfaces and graphical, inline information about everything from music videos to old presidents, DuckDuckGo's interface has remained straightforward and full of basic text links, reminiscent of the Google of old. 

No more.

Wednesday, CEO Gabriel Weinberg introduced a sweeping and beautiful redesign for DuckDuckGo, complete with contextual information you've come to expect from modern search engines. The overhauled engine can now return videos, images, definitions, local places, and Knowledge Graph-like bursts of basic biographical information—dubbed "instant answers"—when you search for topics, all via an attractive image-driven carousel at the top of the results.

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

Text links have also been subtly tweaked, with a more uniform look and a flatter, cleaner aesthetic.The home page also looks slightly different, and has new buttons at the bottom.

Sure, there isn't much here that you won't find in Google or Bing, but the revamp finally makes DuckDuckGo competitive with those two on more than privacy alone. I dig it--though DuckDuckGo's search algorithms themselves don't seem quite as sophisticated as Bing or Google's, results-wise.

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

DuckDuckGo hopes to make the redesign the default interface within the next month, but it's been launched in beta form so that everyday searchers can provide the company with feedback. Check it out at, or via these sample queries suggested by Weinberg, which show the new features in action:

Since this is a beta, expect to run into some bugs. Occasionally, links to the new categories—images, videos, etc.—wouldn't work for me, and Weinberg says that neither the new instant answers nor the settings page are in final form yet. Internet Explorer 8 users may also run into some visual issues, though the beta should be fully functional nonetheless.

If you run into any quirks trying out the track-less browser, be sure to click the Give Feedback button in the lower-right corner and let the DuckDuckGo crew know what you think.

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