Brave, the browser that wants to “fix the web”.
05-04-2020

You might say that, as close as we are to celebrating the entry into the third decade of the 21st century, all is said and done in terms of web browsers. Nothing could be further from the truth. Since Google Chrome appeared more than ten years ago, the scene has been revitalized as expected and from the “death” -still out there like a zombie- of Internet Explorer to the renewal of Firefox or the explosion of Chromium-based alternatives, this is more animated than ever.

It’s true that in terms of background technology things are changing, because if you take away Firefox, Safari -relegated to its particular redoubt of users- and a few more or less strange experiments, everything is Chromium. But for the end user it’s not the same, because the customization layer implemented by the developers of the main web browsers based on Chromium, offer very different experiences between them.

While Chrome is a spice-laden, Google-spiced copy of Chromium, but with identical functionality, Opera, for example, is very different. That’s why Chromium, and not Firefox, is the one chosen by most companies that are launching new browsers: they have at their disposal the most powerful technology of the moment and they can also modify it according to their requirements because it has been designed that way -abstracting the background from the form- and because it is free software.

Thus, Chrome was followed by Opera, then came Vivaldi, later on our protagonist of today, Brave, and the final version of the new Microsoft Edge has yet to appear. And each of these browsers has features that distinguish it from the rest and that can attract different types of users. What does Brave have that the others don’t? Let’s take a look at it.
Brave, the browser that wants to “fix the web”

If behind Vivaldi is Opera co-founder Jon S. von Tetzchner, and his intention is to offer a web browser for advanced users, behind Brave is Mozilla co-founder Brendan Eich, one of the last CEOs the company had, before he was forced to resign due to a political scandal. However, Eich is also known for being the father of the JavaScript programming language, so beyond any ideological cysts he may have, he is one of the great figures of technology.

As for Eich’s intention to create Brave, he explains it better himself:

“Today’s internet is broken and the users are suffering the most. They are being tracked, tagged, and exploited; this not only violates privacy, but slows down page loading, drains batteries, and provides a miserable experience. Meanwhile, publishers are losing revenue at a record pace to some giant super companies and too many advertising technology intermediaries. Advertisers are wasting time and money in an industry full of fraud. Everyone with a legitimate stake in the open Web loses in this environment. Surveillance capitalism has affected the Web for too long, and we have reached a critical tipping point where privacy by default is no longer a nice thing, but a must. Users, advertisers and publishers have finally had enough, and Brave is the answer. Either we accept that the $330 billion advertising technology industry treats us like its products, exploiting our data, accumulating more data breaches and privacy scandals, and starving revenue streams; or we reject the economics of surveillance and replace it with something better that works for everyone. That’s the inspiration behind Brave.

This is how the first stable version of Brave is presented to the world, even though it’s not new. Brave has been in development for several years and many know the dynamics with the philosophy and features of this browser, which in fact accumulates more than 8 million active users – most of them in Android – according to their own data. “Brave 1.0 is the browser reinvented, transforming the Web to put users first with a browser-based payment platform and private ads. With Brave, the Web can be a rewarding experience for everyone, without users paying with their privacy,” adds the company’s CEO.

Now, Brendan Eich’s compliments aside, what are the defining features of Brave? Will one of them convince you to try it out and maybe make it your top web browser? Let’s find out.

Multiplatform

The first thing you want to know about Brave is that it is a multiplatform application, so whether you use Windows, MacOS, Linux, Android or iOS, you have a version available to install. Of course, it has data synchronization between devices.

Compatibility

The second thing you should know about Brave is that because it’s based on Chromium, it enjoys all of its technical advantages, including full support for the vast majority of Chrome extensions, which you can install directly from the Chrome Web Store.

Speed

In line with the previous point, the fact that Brave is based on Chromium means that it is very fast. In fact, its managers claim that it is up to eight times faster than Chrome, as it integrates an advertising and tracking blocker. But this is just advertising, since it is neither the only browser that has something like this, nor the only one where something like this can be installed.

Privacy

Brave also boasts a high level of respect for user privacy, which it protects with its own ad blocker, as well as with the integration of third party extensions such as HTTPS Everywhere or Privacy Badger; or with DuckDuckGo as its default search engine. In other words, it does what it advertises. However, the level of protection it provides is similar to that of Firefox or Opera, and these extensions and others that are the same or more powerful are available for any web browser.

The most interesting aspect of Brave at this point is that it offers two types of private browsing: mainstream and a Tor-based one, which is the safest system known to browse the Internet anonymously; more so than any VPN, so it outperforms Opera in this respect. That said, because of the browser’s default settings, it’s still best to use Tor Browser, if you’re looking for maximum reliability.

Advertising

Along with privacy, this is the main exponent of Brave, which on the one hand blocks advertising, and on the other gives the user the possibility of replacing it with their own ad system… based on browsing history. How do you eat this contradiction? With a somewhat suigéneris methodology: everything runs on the user’s machine. But… why would anyone want to change an ad for another one? Because it can be profitable, literally. And the same for the owners of the web pages.

Explained as simply as possible, Brave includes a crypto-currency program (it started with Bitcoin, but not anymore) with integrated coinage and under Blockchain technology with which users can earn credits by watching ads. Credits that they can collect or accumulate, and with which they can reward with donations to the sites they want and that are registered in the Brave registry. In total, they say they have more than 300,000 verified sites, from portals such as Wikipedia to YouTube or Twitch channels, GitHub or Twitter accounts or large media outlets such as The Washington Post, The Guardian, although this is not the most abundant.

This is Brave’s most controversial point, because no matter how much Brendan Eich complains about how bad things are, advertising is blocked at the factory and if the site wants to charge something it has to go through the checkout, that is, by the method they propose. And if it doesn’t, but someone still wants to donate? The contribution will remain in limbo until it is made.

Are you considering using Brave to make a little money? Don’t worry, because the system is not yet available in Spain or many other regions outside the United States.

Free software

Finally, we cannot fail to mention an important fact, and that is that Brave is open source software. It is important because only open source provides guarantees of transparency, that each function does what it says it does and not something else. However, while the browser is free software, some of the services on which it is based are not, such as the one related to the creation of the account to collect the credits obtained.

Are you interested in what Brave has to offer? Nothing better than trying it out for yourself to get rid of doubts.

You can download it from its official website.