The internet has become an integral part of our lives. We send emails, share documents and practically spend every free moment on the internet. And we do that on a Browser.
When I was young, most of the people I knew called the Browser “the internet icon”, by which they usually meant Internet Explorer. Over the years, Google has become synonymous with the internet thanks to google search and android. Google released a browser called Chrome which has become the standard tool for internet exploration. Now most people call the browser “Google”. However, for us who know the difference between Chrome and Firefox, browsers make a big difference when it comes to web surfing.
The main competition was between Firefox and Chrome a few years ago. Chrome more or less won that battle. Couple that with everyone using Google services like Gmail and Drive which are well-supported on Chrome (obviously), Chrome became the de-facto browser of the internet. A lot of cool extensions and themes and other services were built around it, cementing its place as the undefeated champion. No one was willing to leave Chrome to try the new Firefox Quantum, even though it boasted better speeds and load times. Chrome was protected by all the little features and extensions that were just not available anywhere else.
If you see nothing wrong with this picture, you need to look again. While I am happy that Google has achieved so much, I am growing increasingly concerned by the fact that Google knows so much about me. At some point we all begin to understand that “We” are the product. Google collects data in order to send relevant ads to our devices. That is their business model.
I have nothing against ads. In a way, ads pay for the free flow of information on the internet. However, they can sometimes be intrusive and annoying. My privacy became my priority. I put on my researcher hat and got to work looking for good Chrome alternatives that respects my privacy. Firefox was a no-show because I really need my extensions. Finally I found the browser I was looking for: Brave!
THE BRAVE BROWSER
The Brave Browser is an interesting beast that focuses on privacy, security and speed. What does that mean exactly? Let’s break it down –
Everything you do on the internet is tracked. It can be as simple as a search for weather to more *ahem* questionable sites. Many believe that “incognito mode” hides their activity. Incognito mode opens a separate browser page that does not record your history or downloads on the computer. The operative word here being “Computer”. The sites you visit, however, keep track of who you are, where you are and what you are looking at. They do this to improve their sites. However, the privacy line is blurring fast and there is a thin line separating data collection from data theft.
Brave makes sure you are reasonably anonymous by disabling trackers and ads by default. This enables you to browse without the fear of being spied on.
Websites can be dangerous. They can run malicious software on your computer without your knowledge. These are called scripts. Brave disables all scripts by default ensuring better browsing security than a standard browser. It also forced websites to load in a secure mode called HTTPS. This protects from Man-In-The-Middle attacks where cybercriminals can see your passwords or other information sent via a login screen, for example.
This is not so much a special feature as much as a result of good security. The things that slow down a site are trackers, ads and scripts that run in the background. They increase the time it takes for a page to load and also the amount of data to be downloaded. With all the extras disabled, Brave becomes blazing fast. Page load times take half the time and internet is not wasted.
While this is all great, can this browser actually replace Chrome? The short answer is yes. Ideally, for any replacement, the new software has to do everything the old software could do but also something more. The testing for me was to use Brave as I would use Chrome or Safari. This is where Brave has the advantage over other browsers.
TECHNOLOGY THAT POWERS BRAVE
Brave is built on Chromium Browser. What is Chromium Browser? Google started an open source project in 2008 called Chromium Browser. Their aim was to create a Firefox Browser alternative on which to deliver their own web apps. After developing Chromium in the open with inputs from companies and volunteers all over the world, Google will take the most recent version of Chromium and add their own code and branding and release it as the Chrome Browser. Apart from some minor changes, Chromium and Chrome are identical. This is important to note because if they both share the same underlying technology (Blink and V8 engines) then they will both run the same software and extensions.
EXTENSIONS: THE KING MAKER?
Why do Extensions matter? Every browser can do the same basic tasks of opening web pages, etc. The winner goes to anyone who can extend the functionality of the basic browser. Chrome OS is an entire operating system built inside a browser. Chrome has thousands of apps and extensions for every tiny function in its Chrome Web Store. This is what makes Chrome popular. The reason why everyone used Firefox back in the day was because they offered extensions or “Add-ons” when Chrome was trying to increase page load speeds.
THE BRAVE TOUR
Let me show you how to install it. Go to this link and download the file
Double-click on the setup file to install the application. Let it run. Once completed, it will open the Brave Browser.
This works similarly to the Chrome installation because they are both based on the Chromium Browser. After the download is complete, the browser opens automatically.
We’ll be going through the welcome screen and complete all the steps to migrate to Brave.
First, we need to import all our bookmarks and other settings.
Simply click on the browser you were using earlier. In my case, it would be the Chrome Browser shown in the dropdown as “Chrome Person 1”. Click on Import. Once the process is completed, you should have all your old history, searches, saved passwords and bookmarks imported to Brave.
Next, you have to choose your search engine. Now, this is an interesting question. Google will still be able to track you when you’re in google search. It will customise your search results based on your browsing habits. So if you truly want unbiased search results, you should stick with DuckDuckGo. I have used DuckDuckGo in the past and it was not very accurate at finding the results that I need. Google search is numero uno for a reason; it does give you the best results. Which is why I selected Google Search as my search engine of choice. Brave makes sure that Google cannot track you outside of its domains, in case you were wondering.
Go ahead and choose a search engine. Maybe you’re crazy and will choose Bing! Who knows? I’ve heard it’s gotten better.
Theming is another a major thing for most tweakers of the browser and Brave gives you the option out of the box. Not many options to choose from, however. You have only 3. Light, Dark and same as windows. There are more in the Chrome App store if these don’t satisfy your needs.
Finally, we get to the security part. Here you can customise the level of security that you require by switching toggles on or off. Leave everything to the default in case nothing makes sense to you.
Let’s face one fact: the internet runs on ads. For instance, the only reason Google can give you 15 GB of free drive storage is because it makes its money on ads. Ads that you see when you browse. Youtube creators make their money on ads, as do bloggers and anyone putting unrestricted, free access content online. Ads pay for the whole free flow of information in the digital age.
This leaves the Brave Browser in an interesting position.
- Ads provide revenue for web content.
- The Browser provides access to web content.
- Where will the Content Providers make their money from, now that ads are disabled?
Brave Browser has decided to take a unique approach to this problem. They’ve decided to pay YOU for look at ads. That’s right, they follow the BAT or Basic Attention Token model of ads.
“Basic Attention Token radically improves the efficiency of digital advertising by creating a new token that can be exchanged between publishers, advertisers, and users. It all happens on the Ethereum blockchain.” – basicattentiontoken.org
In short, you (the user) will be paid whenever you look at ads. Your payment is in the form of a token based on Ethereum (It’s similar to bitcoin). You can then give this to your favourite content providers and help support their businesses. Advertisers can list their ads on Brave that are served to only those who have opted to see Brave ads
But the truly revolutionary aspect of the Brave rewards system is that the ads are customised for each person, but completely anonymously. There is no server that is keeping track of what you’re doing. How did they manage this? Simple. Your Brave Browser is offline, it’s installed on your computer. Brave looks at all the profile on your browser and suggests ads based on your preferences. Neither does the advertiser nor any third party have access to their information. It is stored in an encrypted form in your browser.
BRAVE BROWSER WALLET
Since it will cost your literally nothing to make a wallet, I highly suggest you do so. After the wallet is created it will show you the total number of BAT tokens you own. Ads do not yet work in my country but it should be presently. Then I can start making BAT’s or contributing BAT’s by just surfing the web!
Wallet management is serious stuff. If you lose your wallet, you lose your money, and there’s little chance to recover it. So backup the Key as soon as you create the wallet. It is the only way to identify you as the real owner of said wallet. You can restore your wallet by adding the Key in the restore box. All this will be needed if you reinstall your operating system, Brave Browser or get a new computer.
BRAVE BROWSER IN ACTION
Just to demonstrate the power of Brave, I documented the first time I ever used the browser. Here it is after it was just installed. Not a single web page had been opened. It was 8:50 PM.
Here it is 17 minutes and 10 websites later. I opened BBC, CNN, Amazon, Google apps, etc., not some fishy malware sites. Those are some crazy numbers. It actually quantifies the amount of surveillance that happens on the web, on legit sites! Those numbers have increased 10 times since then.
BRAVE SUPER-SECRET MODE
For the especially paranoid or people in countries where the web is monitored to curb dissent, Brave has a special feature for you. Tor is a anonymising software that allows on to access blocked content. Brave has integrated Tor into the Browser itself making it so much easier to use.
Brave is the browser that we all deserve. It deals with privacy and security issues without compromising on a free internet. If nothing else can convince you, think about this. Brave gives you control over the web like never before. If content creators are given first preference, malicious sites will find it harder to get their hands on your information. And you can make money while you’re at it.
Get on board today! Download it here and install as soon as possible. Take my word for it, you will never look back!