On April 1st this year, Internet giant Cloudflare made a serious announcement. It was launching a new DNS with the easy to remember 18.104.22.168 IP address. It may look like a joke but it was dead serious in its goal of providing faster and more private browsing experience. Problem is that switching to a different DNS isn’t exactly a simple matter, especially on smartphones. That’s why on November 11, because 11/11, Cloudflare launched the 22.214.171.124 mobile app to make that as simple as flicking a (virtual) switch.
DNS, short for Domain Name System, is the Internet’s version of a phone directory. All Internet addresses are actually just numbers that no human, perhaps with some exceptions, can ever remember. A DNS resolver’s job is to map the addresses you type into a web browser to the site’s actual IP address.
The problem with most DNS revolvers, Cloudflare argues, is that they are usually slow. Worse, ISPs are often also their own DNS resolvers, which practically means they can, if they wanted or needed to, take a peek at what address you’re trying to access. That’s why Cloudflare is offering a brand new DNS that, insists the company, is not only faster than most resolvers, it also comes with privacy guaranteed.
Now the problem becomes switching from the default DNS your ISP uses to Cloudflare’s 1.1.1. That’s non-trivial already on the desktop but even more complicated on smartphones and tablets, making adoption on those devices even slower. What better way to solve that than with a mobile app. All you need to do is install the app, run it, and tap to change the DNS your phone. It’s that simple.
Of course, some might argue that using the 126.96.36.199 DNS implies putting faith in Cloudflare’s word that it is, indeed, respecting your privacy more than your ISPs. There are also other public DNS alternatives out there, such as Google’s. Though, depending on your stance, that may be better or worse.