In the early days of the internet, users did not have much choice when it came to picking a favorite web browser. The now-defunct Internet explorer, bundled with each version of windows was the default choice and Netscape was the alternative for some. Cut to 2021, and the web browser landscape is so very different and interesting! You have a plethora of options to pick from. While a majority of web users settle for contenders like Chrome and Firefox, there are some lesser-known options that are equally useful and come with some stellar features. One of the new contenders is Brave Browser.
Basics of the Brave browser
Brave is a browser that has been designed to offer users a smoother, secure, and faster web browsing experience. On top of that, it is powered by a crypto-based revenue model. The combination sounds rather interesting and unique? Well, it is so. Made by Brave Software, the browser is co-founded by Brian Bondy and Brendan Eich. The latter is who also started Mozilla’s Firefox some years back. The brave browser gets rid of annoying ads in web pages and it does pretty much what the competitors do on other fronts too. However, it does not block ads appearing within web search results.
What do you get in Brave?
What the user experience is like?
As it is, present generation web browsers do not look or feel very different from one another. The same can be said about Brave. If you have used Firefox and Chrome, using Brave should not feel very different. The UI is smooth and sleek looking. You get a lot of settings to tweak with. Like other players, it lets you use dark mode-which is what most mobile users prefer.
It is compatible with Chrome’s extensions and lets you use extensions directly from the Chrome web store.
The aggressive anti-ad policy of Brave resulted in many rivals adopting various types of anti-tracking mechanisms.
A unique revenue model, based on crypto technology (BAT token)
Brave does not stop at blocking ads and thwarting trackers. It has made a unique ad ecosystem with which the typical web ads are replaced. However, the ads displayed by it are not targeted at the user level. There is a cryptocurrency-based system behind the ad model used by Brave. Brave’s ads are not like typical in-page ads but they are presented as pop-up notifications. When you click on such pop-ups, the actual ad content appears. The Brave ads, therefore, are not much intrusive in nature.
The Brave crypto ecosystem is powered by BATs or Basic Attention Tokens. It fuels the Brave browser and is powered by Ethereum technology. These crypto tokens are awarded as per user attention. The more time you spend viewing these ads and content, the more tokens you get in return. However, it is not clear when the users will be able to exchange the BAT tokens. The price of BAT is above $1 and it may go up. The market cap for BAT is nearly $1.8 billion. Brave users can pay websites based on content usefulness using BAT.
Where Brave differs from the rival browsers?
Nowadays, nearly all web browsers deploy some sort of ad blocking technology and so it can no longer be called the USP of Brave like it was some years back. However, its financing model is unique and that sets it apart from other players.
Rivals like Microsoft’s Edge, Google Chrome, and Apple’s Safari do not need to make profits on their own ads they are part of parent organizations that are MNCs having several revenue-making options. However, browsers like Firefox and Brave belong to another league. They need ways to earn revenues. While Mozilla ties up with search firms and it has a deal with Google, Brave has carved a unique niche. It uses an ad ecosystem that benefits both the entity and users.
Brave takes a different approach to the advertising-based revenue earning model. It does not try to tempt the users with adverts. It anonymously calculates time spent by you on various sites and web pages. Once every month, the Brave Rewards program compensates for sites visited by you. The BAT currency is based on the Ethereum Blockchain.
It takes 15% from publisher ads and twice that percentage from user ads. So, users get to keep 70% of the revenue obtained from viewing ads. The company has kept 1/3rd of the entire BAT for funding needs. As per a 2017 whitepaper, Brave will use the money to develop a digital advertising system powered by Blockchain technology.
So, how exactly do the users gain from using Brave?
You can earn BAT tokens by viewing ads offered by Brave, and so the process is simple. Brave offers an anonymous wallet that gets stored on your mobile device or PC. You may also use online wallets. If you see ads on something worth your interest, you may send a tip to support the creator.
Turning any other currency into BATs is possible and for that, you have to access Uphold.com. This is a widely used and reliable digital money platform supporting more than 50 currencies. Uphold will offer the users a debit card, powered by Mastercard.
How does it fare as a browser?
It also supports importing bookmarks from the browsers installed on a PC and device. You get Brave browser for many platforms including Linux, Windows, and macOS. The mobile versions are also there.
What about the safety aspect?
In the browser, you get some Shields and these keep your device safe from malware. Brave Shields include cookie control, fingerprint prevention, and ad-blocking. The default settings are decent but you can also customize what type of content should be blocked by it. In fact, you can tweak settings on a website basis.
Along with enhancing browsing speed, Brave has focused on boosting the user security level. You get a password manager inbuilt, to begin with. Site-wise script blocking is also there. Like rival players, it also offers a private browsing mode. You get an option to enable HTTPS. Brave supports IPFS links natively, as well. The shield settings can be toggled on and off easily, as per your needs.
If you are paranoid about web browsing security, the iOS version of Brave has got you covered. You get a VPN and firewall. However, the services do not come for free. You have to pay $9.99 per month. With one subscription, you get coverage for up to 5 devices- which is decent.
Are there any glitches?
While The Brave browser is a worthy contender for web users seeking anonymous usage and a speedy browning experience, the ecosystem of digital ad-based revenue is not flawless. The users, for example, can just choose not to see any type of ad. The publishers therefore may find it hard to convert a section of users to customers. Besides, the BAT token can be used outside the ecosystem but for that, you have to use third-party wallets and exchanges. This definitely reduces the amount of privacy.
Should you be using the Brave browser?
Brave is a promising contender in the browser arena and its USP is hard to overlook. The Cryptocurrency based ad revenue model is unique and it benefits every party concerned- the company, content makers, and end-users. The speed and security boost are what mainstream web users will love, including those without much interest in revenue and cryptocurrency. It is low on resources and you get a version for almost every OS and platform. The browser has received good reviews from various tests and comparative analyses done by various entities consistently. Overall, the browser is a worthy companion for your web browsing needs.