Originally I was planning on finishing the 3.x series of Privacy Browser Android before starting work on Privacy Browser for other platforms. However, I feel the need from both my users and myself to speed up development of Privacy Browser for the PC. Accordingly, with the release of Privacy Browser 3.8, I am going to shift my primary focus to developing Privacy Browser for the PC and bringing it into feature parity with the Android version.
As I have written previously, my current plan is to develop Privacy Browser PC in C++ using the Qt framework with QtWebEngine as the rendering engine. This decision is influenced by my personal use of KDE as my Linux desktop. KDE is built on Qt, and over the years I have been more impressed by it than other Linux frameworks. It is also available under the GPL, which is important to me. However, my decision is not fully made at this point. I am going to spend some time playing with the tool sets and only commit to using C++ and Qt if it looks like it will work out well with where I envision Privacy Browser going in the long term.
Qt is cross-platform and it is possible to use the same codebase to build binaries that run on Linux, Windows, and macOS. I intend to support releases on Linux and Windows, but I currently do not intend to test or support macOS. This is for some of the same reasons why I have no current intentions of developing Privacy Browser for iOS. In the case of iOS, distribution of apps to most devices requires the use of the App Store, which is not compatible with the GPL. I could, as the developer, choose to release under a different license, but I am not inclined to do so, as I am philosophically in favor of the GPL and the rights it guarantees. Currently it is possible to distribute apps for macOS outside of the App Store, but, based on Apple’s own testimony, they would like to remove that possibility, and I believe that will happen unless they end up prohibited by law from doing so. Therefore, it makes no sense in my mind to sink development effort into a platform that will most likely eventually be cut off.
Qt can also be used to develop Android applications, but given the significant differences between how Android and PC apps function, and the immense amount of time I have had to spend trying to make things like the poorly thought-out Android Activity Lifecycle work with Privacy Browser, I cannot imagine that a browser built on a cross-platform framework would ever function as well as one specifically designed around Android’s quirks. As such, I have no intention of abandoning the Privacy Browser Android codebase unless that were to somehow change.
I spent some time considering names for the PC version of Privacy Browser. As it will be built on a different code base than the Android version, it needs to have some way to distinguish itself, at least for bug reports and feature requests. I thought of calling it Privacy Browser Desktop, but it will run not just on desktops, but on laptops, tablets, and even phones running Linux or Windows. Currently, I am leaning toward referring to it as the PC version. PC (Personal Computer) is a vague term, and arguments can be made that tablets and phones don’t qualify as a PC either, but I think that most people will generally know what is meant by Privacy Browser PC more than any other term I can think of. If you have other suggestions you are welcome to leave them in the comments.
Although the development focus is going to shift to Privacy Browser PC, Privacy Browser Android is not going to be totally abandoned during this process. Rather, I would expect that releases of Privacy Browser Android will be smaller and less frequent until Privacy Browser PC reaches feature parity. Then they will be developed in tandem.
I do not have any intention of monetizing Privacy Browser PC. Rather, as more people use Privacy Browser on their PCs, it will drive downloads of Privacy Browser Android. Between the $1 price of Privacy Browser Android on the distribution platforms where it costs money and the generous donations that I receive from users, I expect to be able to support the continued development of Privacy Browser.