There’s a new browser in town that promises to its users essential online privacy and protection. Others also say that it’s going to give Google a run for their money. And I got pretty curious why they said so. With that, I gave it a try and so far, here’s my experience with it.
Disclaimer: This is not an inclusive review. It consists mainly of the author’s preference and point of view. Also, here at TechnoChops, we decided to do reviews differently. We committed to giving a product a 40-day trial, which means that this review will be updated in the next 40 days given that there’s something we noticed that we have not covered before. It’s like a diary review. On the 40th day, we make our verdict. Our verdict is subjective and it is still your final say whether or not to use the product. Of course, this type of review depends on the product that we have (we cannot make a 40-day review for a movie).
The Brave browser is developed by 11 specialists led by Brain R. Bondy and co-founder of Mozilla Project, Brendan Eich. It was announced just last year on Jan. 20, 2016, with a promise to block ads and trackers. The browser’s code is based on the Chromium and Chromium’s Blink engine, which means that you’ll see those familiar Google Chrome settings.
At the top most right of the browser, you’ll see Brave’s icon, the orange lion head. Clicking that will give you a drop-down menu where you could see the option to toggle on and off its built-in ad blocker and other features.
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In the past several months, Adobe and anti-ad blocking firm PageFair saw an increase of users installing ad blockers by 11 percent than last year and I could not blame them (I use an ad blocker, too).
Before, ads were not a problem. But somehow, greedy marketers began to abuse online advertising that they would go to lengths of tracking a person’s online activity by subtly inserting files and super-cookies in their browsers.
Several types and forms of ads also began to surface (pop-ups, interstitials, etc.) to the point that they became annoying. In fact, some even promoted illegal activities and pornography.Advertisement
On top of that, users living in countries with average and slow internet speed could not immediately load a content due to the fact that ads also contribute to the slowness of the site’s loading speed.
Eventually, online advertising became like a zoo.
And that’s what the lion Brave browser wants to solve: giving internet browsing a breath of fresh air by offering users safer and faster experience.
This is what intrigued me about Brave – a browser that has a built-in ad blocker and with privacy protection features. Brave has integrated, by default, essential privacy features that could only be used as either add-ons (for Firefox) or as extensions (for Chrome). One of these features is the ever useful HTTPS Everywhere.
In Brave’s Settings, you can toggle on and off HTTPS Everywhere at the Shields section. You can also choose to block phishing and malware attempts (which is important), block scripts, and enable or disable browser fingerprint protection.
There is also an Ad Control where you can show ads from Brave, block ads, or allow ads and tracking. In the Cookie Control, third-party cookies are blocked by default with options to allow and block cookies altogether.
Head to Privacy section and you get options to delete browsing history, download history, cached images and files among others. What is more, they also have their own built-in password manager where you can save your passwords for each site you log in.
Brave’s commitment is appealing to users who want to get rid of those annoying and intrusive advertisements and those who value privacy. Clearly, the developers had its users in mind when they created Brave.
However, a lot of website owners and publishers were not happy with the idea. You see, website owners depend on the revenue they get from ads (that includes TechnoChops). No ads mean no revenues.
And by default, Brave will always block ads, though you have a choice to turn on or off its ad blocking feature. Brave almost completely eliminates online ads in order to fulfill their promise of protecting their user’s privacy.
This spells a problem for publishers because, again, no ads mean no revenues. It’s from these revenues that publishers are able to pay for their monthly expenses.
Now, how would then publishers generate revenue from people who use Brave since their ads are blocked by default? This is what sets Brave apart from other browsers.
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Brave has a program called Brave Payments. It is an online wallet for users.
Every month, you allocate money which will be divided among the publisher site you visited, provided that they are a part of the program. It’s also optional, which means that it’s up to you if you want to contribute to your favorite website or not.
If you do not contribute, there’s no problem. You can still use Brave for free and see no ads.
Brave’s concept is appealing, at least for me. So, I decided to give their concept a test drive. Here are my experiences so far:
- It has been more than 24 hours since I installed Brave (May 4) and using it felt like I had a Safari browser. The first time I did was import my bookmarks to Brave and just like Chrome and Firefox, it has the option to import browser data over-the-air.
- At first, I found the Bookmarks bar a bit confusing because there were no icons for the folders. Fortunately, you can go to Settings by clicking on the three vertical dots at the upper right. You head over to General and find the Bookmarks Bar. Under that, you have the option to choose Text only, Text and Favicons, and Favicons only.
- By default, Brave shows a preview of the site as you hover over a tab. I found this distracting. With that, I went to Settings >>> Tabs >>> disabled Show tab previews on hover.
- I must tell you that Brave really loads fast. In fact, I feel it’s faster than Chrome and Firefox.
- What I love about Brave is that it shows you the statistics of the number of trackers that were blocked, ads blocked, https upgrades, and the total estimated time you have saved every time you use the browser on a day.
- In Brave, I can’t search for add-ons or extensions similar to Chrome and Firefox. Maybe, the developers did this because of their promise to protect user data. Nonetheless, it might be better if I could choose available extensions somewhere in the browser. I don’t know if they’re going to include this feature in their next release. But just in case there’s a feature or an extension I would like to have, the developers placed a request form in their Community.
- I like the fact that they have a few built-in password managers. Somehow, it makes me feel that they value my personal data.
- Brave’s ad blocker is good. I was able to use the functionality of a site without it sending me a warning that I am using an ad blocker. Plus, I am not seeing any ad.
- I encountered some glitches, but these are just occasional (please take note, they’re just occasional):
- videos suddenly go mute in a tab, but in another tab, the sound is there;
- a missing site in my bookmark, though it appeared again;
- tabs could not be moved either to the left or to the right, but the loading speed of the site is fast;
- clicking “Never For This Site” when asked if I should let Brave remember password does not work;
- back button could not be clicked;
- when Brave’s ad blocker is turned on, I need to specify first a file’s extension (.jpg, .mp4, etc.) for downloads;
- I eventually closed all tabs because they’re starting to not work;
- disabling Fingerprint Protection is not working
- Brave’s subfolders in the bookmarks always stay at the right side, which disturbs my user experience because I could not see the remaining words. Brave should be able to automatically transfer a subfolder to the left if there is not enough space to the right.
- Brave tends to lag once in a while when it’s serving too many tabs. There was a time that I have 16 tabs opened.
But I just wonder how Brave would stack up against Chrome and Firefox after its official release. Who knows. For the meantime, I’ll ditch Chrome and Firefox and explore the net with the king of the jungle.
Update May 6 2017
I used the mobile app of Brave. YouTube said some video formats (HTML5 video) are not supported by my browser.
Around this time, Brave has also become a bit laggy and has started to slow down my laptop. I stopped using it for a while because I had to do something important.
Before logging in to an affiliate account, I should disable Brave’s ad blocking feature because it will break the site.
Update May 7 2017
If a site breaks, check if the Fingerprint Protection is enabled because it could break some sites.
Update May 8 2017
Brave’s Bookmarks settings has no option to delete folders. I need to delete it one by one, which wastes my time.
Update May 26 2017
The mobile version of the Brave browser is not blocking ads as of this day, particularly those from Google AdSense. I have already toggled on and off the ad-blocking feature and I am still getting the same results.
On the other hand, the ad-blocking feature in the desktop version is working fine, which leads me to think that perhaps the mobile version currently has a glitch.
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Update May 29 2017
The developers of Brave released an update. So far, the browser feels more stable. A red notification shows up if you want to allow certain sites to determine your location, remember your password, etc.
However, the lags are still there. Unlike Google Chrome, I could only open up to five tabs in Brave in order for it not to slow down my browsing experience.
Update June 9 2017
The developers of the Brave browser released an update. I noticed an improvement on the Facebook UI. It looks smoother. I open several tabs at the same time and despite getting an update, there is not much of a difference. I still get a sticky feel when using the browser to explore the internet.
Details of the changelog are available at GitHub and it looks like they are going to implement a new funding method.
Update Jan 8 2021
This review was done in 2017, as of 2021, Brave has passed over 20 million active users so far and still adding up. And many bugs have been fixed. Many new features have been added and one of the most important update is that they have closed their affiliate program.
Today ends my review of the Brave browser and I can say that it delivers two of its promises: more private and faster internet browsing. In fact, the loading speed of a page with Brave is much faster than Chrome and FireFox, as far as using Brave in the past 40 days.
Being a newcomer, Brave has so much potential; yet so much to catch up.