Wordle Hacking, How to Stop Game Tracking You on iPhone, Android, Web

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Starting February 10, the familiar home of the viral Wordle word puzzle has changed. If you visit the powerlanguage.co.uk/wordle link now, you will be automatically redirected to the new owner’s site. This in itself is unsurprising given that Wordle was recently acquired from original developer Josh Wardle for an “undisclosed seven-figure price” by the buyer, The New York Times. Perhaps what will surprise many players of the game is that it now comes with ad trackers. But don’t worry, you can stop it with a little wordle hacking.

Wordle finds a home among other amazing word games

This acquisition of Wordle by The New York Times understandably sparked interest and concern about the future of addictive, ad-free free online gaming. For its part, the newspaper is renowned for the quality of its games: Spelling Bee (how many words can be formed from seven letters), Letter Boxed (creation of words from letters around a square), Sudoku and, of course, crossword puzzles. The thing that connects them all, apart from their addiction, is that they sit behind a paywall. You have to pay to play if you want unlimited access. It’s not exactly expensive, at just $5 a month or $40 for the year. It’s still more than nothing, what Wordle has always cost and still costs today.

Will Wordle be monetized by the New York Times?

Still, the publication surely didn’t invest more than a million dollars without a monetization plan. Whether it’s possibly introducing it inside the paywall, introducing advertisements or something else; it was not an act of charity. In a January 31 press release, The New York Times said that “By the time it goes to The New York Times, Wordle will be free to play for new and existing players, and there will be no changes to its gameplay.” What we’ve already seen, however, are some “tweaks” to filter out disreputable words from the answer dictionary. Other than that, however, the underlying codebase, the JavaScript that powers Wordle, remains the same.

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Client-side code powers Wordle behind the scenes and on my iPhone

The JavaScript that powers Wordle runs client-side with no server-side validation, and there’s a great breakdown on that for the more technical. here. It is the nature of this that led many gamers, fearing that the game would pay off sooner rather than later, which led them to download the wordle code lock, stock and barrel, from the site. origin before redirect. This meant they could continue to play Wordle locally, without having to go to The New York Times. It works and works seamlessly. This is how I play Wordle on my iPhone.

Does Wordle follow you?

A clue as to how The New York Times might be looking to monetize the puzzle was picked up by a Gizmodo reporter who spotted ad trackers while playing online. This didn’t surprise me, especially since I had observed the same through my use of web browser extensions such as Ghostery and Privacy Badger, as you can see below.

Trackers aren’t uncommon on the web today, let’s face it, and it wouldn’t be very honest of me if I didn’t point out that Forbes.com also has several ad trackers. The truth is, you accept them and live with how the web works in 2022, or use blockers of one type or another to try and control things as best you can. However, Wordle was once free from such concerns, and that was part of its appeal; it has not been monetized in any way. The irony of such an unmonetized product changing hands for over a million dollars is not lost on me. Of course, not all trackers are ad-oriented; some are analytical, for example. None of this necessarily means you’ll see ads served up with your daily word puzzle, it has to be said.

I have contacted the New York Times for a statement and will update this article should it be published.

Can you kibosh Wordle trackers?

In the meantime, you’re probably wondering if you have any other options than accepting trackers or not playing Wordle? Of course you do, for now. You can use the aforementioned ad and tracker blockers for your web browser, along with other applications available for your smartphone. Also, the Safari browser for iOS users will block trackers from profiling you, so playing around with that is another option. It won’t help you if at some point Wordle goes behind the paywall. However, there is a hack that allows you to avoid tracking and play for free for the foreseeable future, and I mentioned it earlier: download the code.

Wait, I hear you say, that’s fine for those who did this before the redirect to the New York Times site on February 10. In fact, it’s fine for those who haven’t done it as well because you can still perform the same piece of Word hacking now. At least for now, until the code itself is locked. This is because Wordle was still running on the client side at the time of writing. This simple hack means you can play Wordle on your iPhone and no internet connection is required. Indeed, to be absolutely sure that no one is following you online, you can disconnect from both the Internet and mobile data and continue playing Wordle.

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Step by step instructions to play Wordle completely offline

Although I’m talking about the iPhone here because that’s what I have, it’s possible to pull the same trick for Android devices or desktop web browsing. It’s a little complicated but simple enough for anyone to do. First, access the New York Times Wordle game using the Safari browser on your iPhone. Once there, tap “share” and find the options link at the top of the screen that appears. Click on it, then make sure to check the “Web Archive” selection before the “Save to Files” action. Once you save it to a folder of your choice, you’ll have a copy of everything you need to play Wordle offline, locally, on your device.

Unfortunately, just clicking on that saved file isn’t enough to start playing, but don’t worry, it’s another easy process that takes a few seconds of your time. Open the iOS Files app, long press the saved Wordle file and select Share from the pop-up menu. Now choose to open with Microsoft Edge (which you’ll need to download first if you haven’t already) and Robert is your mother’s brother. Is there any downside to this, other than installing Edge on your iPhone? Why, of course, there is. Your existing wins and streaks will disappear if you play offline. Whether it’s a sacrifice worth making for complete privacy, only you can decide.

Oh, and if you want to know how to do the same on an Android smartphone or through a desktop browser, you can find step-by-step instructions on c|net. And speaking of additional links, you can read The New York Times Privacy FAQ here.

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