Tor Browser 11.5 is now here and claims to build on features introduced in version 10.5. These features should improve the user experience when connecting to Tor in heavily censored regions.
What’s new in Tor Browser 11.5 ?
Last year version 10.5 of the browser software was released and it was the start of redesigning the connection to Tor. Among other things, the development team has purchased the Tor Launcher and the connection process has moved to the browser window.
So that you can bypass censorship in restrictive countries , however, there was a manual intervention that wasn’t really very clear. This is especially true if you are new to the subject. In the end, you had to figure out how to set up a bridge or jumper to unlock Tor on your own. Another problem is that Tor’s censorship is not uniform. A particular bridge configuration may work in one country but not in another.
So you as a user had to find out for yourself which option is the best. Often the result was not censorship-free Internet, but simply frustration. Tor Browser developers have worked with the Tor Project Anti-Censorship team and improved the connection wizard. There is a new feature that automatically applies a bridge configuration based on location . The software takes care of the selection of the respective method for you.
Automatically select the best connection
Connection Assist searches and downloads an up-to-date list using your location – with your permission, of course. The browser does not need to connect to the Tor network, but uses moat . It’s the same tool that Tor Browser uses to request a bridge from torproject.org.
Tor Browser 11.5 automatically finds the best connection
However, the developers point out that the connection assistant is a version 1.0. This is a so-called milestone that will be improved in future versions. Above all, the development team wants to continue working on the user-friendliness. Users from countries where the Tor network may be blocked (such as Belarus, Dubai , China, Russia, Turkmenistan and Egypt ) can test the latest version of this feature by becoming an alpha tester and posting their results in the Tor report forum .
Network settings redesign
The development team hopes to be able to help users who have to live with heavy censorship. The aim should be to be able to connect with just one click. However, there are always exceptions and some people may want to configure manually as well.
Connection in Tor Browser – Network Settings
Therefore, the settings for the Tor network have been revised:
- New name: The Tor network settings are now called Connection . This makes it clearer what you will find in this tab.
- Connection status: You can see the last known connection status at the top of the settings just mentioned. You can test your internet connection without Tor with moat and maybe find possible connection problems that way as well.
- Optimized options for bridge options: The long list of fields and options is gone. For each method of adding a bridge , the development team has divided it into individual dialog menus – also with a view to future improvements.
- Connection wizard: If the Tor Browser cannot connect to the Tor network due to possible censorship, you will automatically be given an additional option to select a bridge.
- New Visibility of Bridges : Bridges used to be virtually invisible. That was true even when they were set up. You can now display your saved bridges. There are also new options for sharing bridges . Below you can see what that looks like.
This is what a bridge map looks like in Tor Browser 11.5
Bridge map (source: torproject.org)
Above you can see what a bridge map looks like. You can copy and share the bridge line. In addition, each bridge now has a unique QR code that can be read with future versions of Tor Browser for Android. At least that’s the plan. Other apps that work with Tor should benefit too. This makes it easier for you to transfer a working bridge from the desktop to the smartphone.
If you have configured several bridges, there is a stack of these cards that you can open with a click. In addition, Tor Browser 11.5 marks which bridge you are currently communicating with. In this way you can immediately see which bridge is in use.
The help links in the connection settings are now also available offline. Tor Browser has two types of help links in the settings:
- Some refer to support.mozilla.org
- The others point to tb-manual.torproject.org – the Tor Browser Manual. If you now have connection problems with the Tor Browser and want to fix them, links on the Internet are of little use to you. That’s why the manual is available offline in Tor Browser 11.5. You can also access the manual this way: Menu > Help > Tor Browser Manual or you enter about:manual in the address bar .
Only HTTPS – by default
HTTPS Everywhere is one of the extensions that used to be included with Tor Browser. It automatically switches connections to HTTPS if that is possible. All popular web browsers support automatic upgrade to HTTPS. Firefox, on which Tor Browser 11.5 is based, calls this feature HTTPS-only mode.
As of Tor Browser 11.5, HTTPS-Only mode is standard for the desktop versions and therefore HTTPS-Everywhere is no longer included.
Unlike the desktop version, Tor Browser for Android will continue to use HTTPS Everywhere for the short term.
Tor Browser for Android
The features presented here are all for the desktop versions of the browser. The team hasn’t gotten that far in terms of functionality with the Tor Browser for Android. The Tor project has repeatedly faced hurdles that have caused delays. Therefore, the roadmap for Android has been realigned. According to the company, there have been three priorities since the beginning of the year:
- Regular updates for Android
- Fixed the crashes experienced by many Android users
- Moving forward with the release of Fenix (Firefox for Android).
The team now releases a new Android version at an average of a month. Also, updating Tor Browser to Fenix v102 is a priority over the next few months.
So the development team is working on the Android version, but please be patient.
Improved font support
The Tor Browser protects you from so-called fingerprinting and the fonts also play a role here. If someone can identify you based on the fonts installed on your system, that’s stupid, of course. Because of this, Tor Browser comes with various pre-installed fonts that it can use instead of the fonts installed on your system. However, the software did not display some fonts correctly and other fonts were not available at all in the Tor Browser.The team has added more fonts to Tor Browser 11.5. Many more fonts from the Noto family have been added. However, the team also writes that compromises have to be made here in order not to inflate the size of the installer too much. If you find that characters in your language are not displayed correctly in the Tor Browser, you are welcome to report it.