Brave Browser Review 2020 | Deep-Dive into Brave & BAT Ecosystem
The Brave Browser and associated ecosystem is truly an innovative and revolutionary piece of technology. Brave excels in the areas of privacy and security, with a plethora of built-in features to keep users stay safe whilst browsing the internet. The browser has developed significantly since the early releases, with initial bugs fixed and support for extensions from Chrome Web Store now built in. Switching to a safer, faster, more private browser that pays you to use the internet has never been easier! The only major downside of Brave is that Brave can block useful tracking, such as Google Analytics or cookies from referral programs, which ultimately can harm publishers. Check out our detailed review of Brave Browser below.
- From the user perspective, one of the greatest advantages of Brave currently seem to be on mobile. Given that up to 50% of monthly data goes to loading ads and trackers, which in turn can reduce battery life by up to 21%, Brave for mobile can save both time and money. On average, pages load up to 8x faster! That said, Brave on desktop is reportedly 2-3x faster than Chrome or Firefox.
- Users not only save, but can actively earn money through opting in to view ads through Brave Rewards, receiving 70% of advertisers profits. You can choose to view a min of 1 and max of 5 ads per hour.
- Publishers also stand to gain as users can now directly reward them for producing good content. This can be done in several ways including automated contributions split by the percentage of time you spend on each site, fixed monthly contributions to sites, direct tips when visiting a site or tipping on Reddit, GitHub and Twitter. The settings are fully customizable too! This creates an entirely new revenue model for publishers that moves away from often irrelevant ads, in turn improving user experience.
- Moving from Chrome to Brave was completely seamless. As it is built on the open source platform Chromium, all settings and data can be imported directly from Chrome. You can also sync across all devices.
- Security and privacy are at the forefront of Brave's vision, offering unparalleled levels of built-in user control. For example, you can configure settings to automatically clear cache, history, cookies etc on close, easily control your Brave Shield settings to block/allow ads, trackers, scripts, etc on a page, site or browser wide basis. Brave automatically upgrades all HTTP to HTTPS encryption where possible, and browsing data is stored on your device not servers. What's more, private browsing tabs open in TOR - amazing!
- The code is all open-source and available on GitHub for anyone to verify.
- In some areas, we felt the design of the Browser lacked continuity and could use improving. Navigate to Preferences and the design is sleek and modern, with a rounded look and feel. However, the navigation bar and tabs don't reflect the same aesthetic. We felt the design here was boxy and outdated - reminiscent of old versions of Windows. This might just be a personal gripe, but we would like to see the flare in the Preferences page applied to all areas of the design. That said, this area has improved since early versions and we are happier with the look and feel of the tabs.
- We first used the Brave Browser several months ago and did encounter some bugs. For example, randomly tabs would break and we could not open or close them without restarting the browser. However, many of these early issues seem to have been ironed out as we have continued to use Brave, but we still think it is worth mentioning you may encounter the odd bug. Although, it is to be expected with early tech and is likely worth the price of privacy!
- Brave could also harm a lot of publishers on the internet that rely on user tracking. For example, millions of site owners monetize their content through referral programs that track users with cookies. Brave prevents users being tracked and so site owners do not earn commission on referral sales. Furthermore, publishers also rely on anonymized data from Google Analytics to generate new content and understand how users use their sites in order to improve things like user interface. Brave also prevents Google Analytics tracking user behaviour.
- The wallet in the Brave Browser has limited functionality, as you can't even view transaction history.
- Brave can sometimes break useful tracking functionality on sites. For example, on sites that track your IP when logging in, blocking tracking can result in the site not recognising your device requiring further verification. Whilst not a major problem, it can get a bit... annoying! We would like to see more granular controls of Brave Shields to allow some useful tracking, such as outlined above. At the moment you can only turn of ALL ads and trackers.
What is Brave Browser?
The current digital advertising model is a broken system that only benefits intermediaries, with Google and Facebook taking 73% of all ad revenue generated. Conversely, ads and trackers cost internet users as much as 50% of their mobile data every month, reduce battery life by up to 21% and violate privacy. Furthermore, publishers see only a small portion of ad revenue while advertisers suffer from fraud and ad blockers.
What is the Basic Attention Token?
The Brave browser is aiming to solve these systemic problems by creating an entirely new digital advertising ecosystem that puts power back into the hands of users and publishers. At the center of it all is the Basic Attention Token (BAT), but what are BAT tokens? Simply put, BAT is an ERC-20 token on the Ethereum blockchain that enables users, publishers and advertisers to efficiently and fairly exchange value in return for viewing or producing content and ads.
Brave blocks all ads and trackers by default, which greatly speeds up loading times and improves privacy for the user. However, you can still change your preferences to allow specific ads and trackers on sites of your choosing. For some sites, especially news outlets, this can be a pretty staggering number of ads and trackers blocked!
Brave Payments anonymously tracks what sites you visit and how long you spend on them. You can then choose to reward publishers for producing great content in several different ways. The first is through monthly auto-contributions to sites which is split by the percentage of time spent on each site. You can also setup fixed monthly contributions to sites – like a subscription. The second main way is through tipping. This can be done either through tipping directly on sites when browsing them, or through social media integrations on Reddit, Twitter and GitHub.
Find out more about the ecosystem in our detailed Brave browser review above.
How to Earn BAT with Brave Rewards
After a lengthy wait, the much anticipated Brave Rewards was finally launched in April 2019. This means that users can now earn BAT tokens by simply opting in to viewing ads. The ads appear as notifications which can either be clicked on or closed, and you can choose to view a minimum of 1 and maximum of 5 per hour in the settings. The design is super slick and the dashboard is very easy to use.
The launch of Brave Rewards is significant because it now means the circular ecosystem is complete. Users, advertisers and publishers can now benefit from using the Brave browser and platform. What is not clear at the moment is how much users can earn from viewing ads. Do you earn more if you click through to view an ad? If so, this could open up the system to manipulation.
Either way we look forward to the further development of Brave. Now comes the hard part, getting users and publishers to sign up…