Brave is an adventurous attempt at a new web browser, one which focuses on rethinking the overall advertising model of the internet. As of October 2016, Google’s Chrome browser continues to be the most popular choice with over half (63%) the usage share of all browsers. Although Chrome is freeware (as is Brave), it is developed by Google which derives the majority of its revenue from advertising. Some think this may lead to conflicts of interest when it comes to privacy and security.
Brave proposes a new model for internet browsing, one where users pay for their time online to remove ads and fund sites.
How it works
Brave is easy to install like most modern browsers, minus the typical prompting for account creation. Their browsing payment system, Brave Payments, is not required for setup. At first glance, there are no huge surprises interface-wise. It’s based on the Chromium open source web browser and carries its general feel.
To showcase Brave’s strengths, design choices were made such as the home screen which displays data on your browser’s performance. Seeing how much time you saved upon bringing up a new tab greatly reinforces the satisfaction of using the browser.
On each browser tab you can also view and control background processes of each site. This level of control helps identify particularly invasive websites without sacrificing the flexibility to be more permissive on trusted websites.
While Brave advertises performance gains, it was ultimately hard to detect in regular use. However if you presently browse the internet without an ad blocker, this will certainly change your browsing experience.
Brave’s offering of faster, safer and more private browsing, alone make it a noteworthy contender in the internet browser space. What clearly sets Brave apart however, is its in-built solution to online advertising and pay-for-view browsing.
Studies estimate online media consumption has doubled since 2010, resulting in the global online advertising industry reaching expenditure of around $200 billion this year. The internet and advertising have become inextricably linked, for better or for worse.
While advertising has provided a pathway for sites of all sizes to generate revenue, it has been paralleled by huge losses in user privacy, online experience and overall browsing performance.
The advent of ad blockers has provided users with the option to hide ads internet-wide but they do not fundamentally offer an alternative to site funding, resulting in diminished site revenues notably for content creators.
“For the first time in the history of web browsers, people can now seamlessly reward the sites whose content they value and wish to support, while remaining untracked by anyone, including us at Brave Software, Inc.”
Each Brave browser has a in-built Bitcoin wallet, which users can use to fund their online viewing. The use of Bitcoin for Brave Payments is not just an ideological choice on Brave’s part, rather Bitcoin allows Brave Payments to function on a scale otherwise unachievable.
Should you switch?
Whether or not Brave is right for you will very much depend on your stance on online privacy, security and advertising. For most internet users, these issues do not currently cause enough discomfort to alter browsing habits. If this happens to be you, it is still important to be aware that as the internet becomes an increasingly encompassing part of our lives, our security, privacy and control over advertising will require more intensive consideration.
To the privacy conscious user, your internet browsing experience may already be littered with various browser extensions to block ads, remember sites and save passwords. These extensions, originating from a number of software publishers you often cannot keep track of or trust with permissions, can quickly become a part of the same security and privacy entanglement.
Brave offers an alternative to privacy extensions in a single, purpose-built package, one which also holds the promise of a fairer internet for both publishers and users. The software’s development timeline demonstrates that Brave is on fast pathway to developing this vision, and switching now could mean being at the forefront of this momentous leap.
If your aim is to return some semblance of control over your digital footprint when browsing the internet, Brave undoubtedly allows you to take great strides.
[You can get the latest version of Brave here.]