Is your Internet browsing experience slow, bogged down by unseen programs running behind the scenes, tracking your every move? Do you hate ads, pop-ups and the kind targeted based on what you’ve looked at in the past, cat-food ads creepily popping up everywhere because of that one time you bought some stuff for your four-legged friend on Pet Smart’s website? Do you always feel like somebody’s watching you?
That’s because they are. A lot of “free” services actually do extract a price from you in exchange for your use of them, and that price is information: Not just demographic information, but your browsing habits, preferences, and past browsing history. This is why the complex algorithms behind websites like Amazon can pop up eerily accurate “You Might Like . . .” suggestions based on what you’ve done and how it matches to what other, similar minded, customers have done. YouTube does this too, with it’s “Suggested” sidebar; you listen to one piece by Rachmaninoff, and you get a steady stream of Russian composers popping up on there. Not that this is a bad thing, really, but it has a tendency to ghettoize all of us into an echo chamber. But I digress.
This might make you want to boycott Brave. And that’s fine. But I’m less interested in the politics and more interested in what Brave has to offer.
Brave is premised on the idea that the user should not be tracked. By automatically blocking these trackers, Brave will allow for faster browsing, as all of these background programs will stop slowing down your experience.
Up to a whopping 60% of page load time is caused by the underlying ad technology that loads into various places each time you hit a page on your favorite news site. And 20% of this is time spent on loading things that are trying to learn more about you.
The second big selling point of Brave–and I use the term “selling” loosely, since Brave is free to download–is that it browsing will be safer:
At Brave, our goal is to block everything on the web that can cramp your style and compromise your privacy. Annoying ads are yesterday’s news, and cookies stay in your jar where they belong.
Brave blocks harmful advertising
There’s a new ad game in town. It’s called “Malvertising”. The latest display ad technology can install malware on your laptop without your knowledge. But not with Brave watching your back.
Brave redirects sites to HTTPS
We’ve integrated HTTPS Everywhere into every Brave browser to make sure you are always moving your bits across the safest possible pipe.
Brave blocks Tracking Pixels and Tracking Cookies
Do you ever get that feeling that someone is watching you when you see an ad for something you bought a few days ago? We make sure you aren’t being tracked while you shop online and browse your favorite sites.
Brave even has an ad-blocking and replacement approach that purports to fund Brave’s operations while using anonymous protocols, with other plans to allow users to funnel ad revenue back to companies that users want to support via Bitcoin. I haven’t delved into this feature, but it partially explains how Brave can be offered for free. You can read more about this on Brave’s website.
Sounds good, right? But how does it work?
I’ve been using Brave for about a month now, switching over from Google Chrome, and I can offer a two-word assessment that, while vague, really encapsulates how I feel about the browser: pretty good.
Brave is pretty good. Aesthetically, I like it. It’s simple and uncluttered, looking more similar to Apple’s Safari browser than Google Chrome or Internet Explorer, or even Firefox. All of the standard web-browser features and hotkeys we’ve all grown used to are all here, and I have no complaints about the front-end stuff.
There were some minor annoyances in the past, but these have been fixed by periodic updates so there’s no point in dwelling on them.
But my biggest issue with Brave is that it’s kind of slow. Especially at first. The aforementioned updates have gone a huge way towards mitigating this slowness, but before, even with one tab open, things slowed noticeably. And if you had more than one tab open? Forget it. It was like browsing in molasses.
Whatever had been causing this had been fixed in one of the recent updates, and Brave now works much faster than it used to. It’s still not as speedy as the other browsers I used to use, but it doesn’t hamper things to an annoying degree and it seems like that promise of fastness is coming true because, once a page has loaded, it’s smooth sailing.
So why do I keep using it? No ads! I’m not seeing the creepy tracked ads, I have gotten no pop-ups, and I haven’t gotten so much as a virus alert from my anti-virus software since I started using Brave. I also like supporting new technology, and Brave seems like a pretty cool idea.
Would I recommend Brave? Absolutely. I have no problem with advertising, commerce, or capitalism. I just don’t like the idea that gigantic corporations such as Google and Microsoft have so much of our information and share it with each other, their advertisers, and the government. Call me paranoid, but this seems very intrusive. Yes, commerce is important and a strong economy benefits us all, in theory, but there’s got to be some kind of limit. I think Brave represents one of these limits.
Disclaimer: I am being paid exactly zero dollars and zero cents to review Brave. I don’t know anybody who works for Brave Software, nor have I been contacted by anyone to write a review. These are just the thoughts and impressions of a user who has been using this product for a month or so. If I had been getting paid by Brave, or by anybody whose product I review, I’d let you all know. That’s how I roll.
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