The Blockchain UX Design Agency

Brave – The Blockchain-based Browser

How much privacy do we really have online? Can we ever have true privacy when browsing the web? Brave may be the Blockchain solution we didn’t know we needed.

The Problem

Many users seem to accept that by using services such as Google, Facebook, and Sky News, that they sacrifice their privacy in exchange for a service. However, most users don’t actually know what this means, and how this affects their personal data. Many modern websites include ad tracking software that tries to identify you, and then tracks your presence across the web. You then have very little control over your data, which is often simply sold to the highest bidder.

Man hacking computer in dark room

Even when you think you are taking steps to protect your privacy on common browsers, such as using ‘Incognito Mode’, this only hides your browser history for users of the same device. Your browsing activity may still be visible to the websites you visit, or your internet service provider, in fact this is even set out when you try to open a private window in Google Chrome.

Typical browsers such as Chrome, Firefox and Safari, are also slowed down when they fetch ad scripts. This can have a negative effect on the user experience of web pages, as well as the ads also being invasive.

What is Brave

Brave puts the user back in control of their privacy. It’s quick, secure, and rewards the user for simply using the browser. Brave uses Blockchain, utilising the use of smart contracts in transactions and the strong secure features of the decentralised network. Brave comes with its own cryptocurrency called BAT (Basic Attention Token), which rewards all users on the browser as well as content creators.

Brave screenshot

We’ve taken a look at some of the key features and functionality of what could be a revolutionary browser.

Key Features 

Privacy

Privacy is a fundamental part of Brave. The browser operates without trackers and cookies that follow you around while you’re browsing the web. This stops trackers building up a portfolio about you and all the sites you visit, links you click, and things you buy online. Want extra privacy? Brave also provides a real ‘private browsing’ experience with Tor. Tor not only hides your web history like other browsers, but it completely masks your location by routing your browsing through several servers before you reach your destination. This gives you privacy on your entire network, not just on a specific computer such as with the Incognito Mode in Google Chrome.

Tor screenshot from Brave Blockchain browser

More time and less money

As Brave doesn’t load trackers and ads every time you open a new web page, it saves you battery power. This gives you more time to do the things you love on the web without adverts and trackers draining your power. With Brave estimating that you could gain an extra hour of battery life by making the switch from a traditional browser. With Brave you are no longer having to download unwanted adverts, which may come in forms such as video and images, these ads consume your data and cost you money. Brave claims that by using their browser your data plan can go twice as far, allowing you to save your data for the content you want to see online.

Phone flat on table

Ad Blocking 

Perhaps the most popular feature on Brave is the ad blocking. Many users may have had experience with ad blocking plugins, but Brave deals with ad blocking out of the box. Not only does this declutter webpages, but it speeds them up. As Brave blocks web pages running additional ad scripts and trackers, there is less for the web page to pull in from the server. This increases the page speed, with Brave estimating that pages could load up to six times faster than Google Chrome. Brave does however offer you the choice to have privacy respecting ads. This may seem like an obvious answer, that’s until you hear about the Brave Rewards program.

Light timelapse

Brave Rewards

Can you imagine getting paid to browse the web? In exchange for showing you privacy respecting ads, Brave rewards you with BAT (Basic Attention Tokens). BAT is a new cryptocurrency that measures and rewards the user for their attention. Through Brave you’ll receive 70% of the revenue that Brave receive from advertising. You also get full control over the amount, if any at all, ads that you see while using the browser. The average user is estimated to make around $60 a year in 2019, but Brave estimates that by the end of 2020 users could be expected to make around $224 a year. The idea of BAT is that it is designed to reward publishers and producers of content. Regularly visit a site? Then you can choose to reward that site and producer with BAT, as if you are using Brave then that site will not generate any income from ad revenue. BAT gives you the opportunity to give back to your favourite sites. The browser even provides the option to set up an automatic monthly BAT donation to your favourite sites, giving you the control over how much you donate, how often and to who. However, this is all optional, you can choose to keep as much of your BAT as you like.

Brave Rewards screenshot

Chromian

Brave is built in Chromian, an open source project that is behind many popular browsers including Google Chrome and Opera. This means it’s a very familiar environment for users and they don’t have to learn how to use a completely different browser, as the UI is very similar to others they will have used. It also means that users can easily transfer their favourite bookmarks from their previous browser into Brave automatically. As Brave is built on the same open source code as Google Chrome, its users also have full access to the Google Chrome Web Store. This means that Brave users have full access to their favourite extensions and plugins. 

Screenshot of chrome store

Should I switch to Brave?

Brave is more secure, quicker, convenient and even pays you for browsing the web, it seems like an obvious choice, but it’s not without its flaws. Brave poses a threat to content creators that rely on advertising revenue on their site. Using Brave takes the power out of their hands and instead places it at the hands of the user. Without users sending optional BAT donations to content creators, they may not be able to afford to produce your favourite content.

The Brave browser has also recently been caught automatically filling in links when users search for companies that it is affiliated with. Brave has been redirecting users to these links without their prior permission and without the knowledge of the organisations. Therefore, although it may be more secure and private it also comes down to how much you trust the browser.

Brave is just an example of one Blockchain solution that is changing the way we use and browse the internet. Checkout the Sequence article on Namebase and Handshake domains, which are shaking up the control over the internet and SSL certificates.

What do you think, want to give it a try? Click here to download Brave. Let us know what you think on Twitter @uxsequence 

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