Brave Browser 1.0 is now available

After more than four years of development, Brave 1.0 has been released by Brave Software to the public after the release of Brave Beta 1.0 in 2018.

The new and first final version of the Chromium-based web browser — the same core that Google Chrome, Opera, Vivaldi and the new Microsoft Edge browser as well as hundreds of other browsers use — can now be downloaded for Windows, Mac OS X, Linux, and the mobile operating systems Android and iOS.

A lot has changed since our first review of Brave in 2016; the browser has matured and the general idea behind it — to disrupt online advertising through the creation of a privacy-focused cryptocurrency-based alternative — started to take form only recently.

One of the core ideas of Brave is to create a revenue system for the Web that benefits publishers, users, and the company alike. Brave features native ad-blocking functionality and fingerprinting protections which improve page loading performance and battery life.

Tip: check out our guide on speeding up the Brave browser further.

Benchmarks, provided by Brave, suggest that it “saves an average of 27 seconds per page load against Chrome on macOS and 22 seconds per page against Firefox”, and that the browser “uses 58% less data than Chrome to load those same pages”.  Brave furthermore uses less memory than Chrome or Firefox according tot he company improving memory use by “40% over Chrome and 47% over Firefox”.

brave browser 1.0

Brave created a new “blockchain-based advertising model that reforms the current system with privacy by design and 70 percent revenue share to users in the form of Basic Attention Tokens (BAT)”. Users may opt-in to view ads to earn BAT which they may convert into digital assets and fiat currencies, or use to support their favorite publishers, content creators, and companies.

According to Brave Software, “ad matching happens directly” on user devices which means that data is not sent to anyone.

Brave supports several interesting features. Apart from standard functionality such as data synchronization, Chrome extensions support, or support for light and dark themes, it does support features such as built-in Tor network functionality (which means that you may use it to access onion sites), support for web torrents, or integration of IPFS (Interplanetary Filesystem).

Brave blocks advertisement by default and provides control over the behavior in the main user interface and settings.

brave blocking

In the main UI, users may disable ad-blocking for a site or change blocking related options, e.g. to enable script blocking or disable HTTPS upgrades.

Brave users who join Brave Rewards join the Ads program automatically as well which may show them privacy-preserving ads in exchange for BAT currency. Users who don’t want to join Ads may disable the functionality on the internal brave://rewards page.

Closing Words

Brave Software revealed that the browser has about 8.7 million monthly active users currently; it would need a lot more to really disrupt online advertising. The release of Brave 1.0 is a milestone for the company and may accelerate growth further.

Now You: Have you tried Brave? What is your take on the browser and idea?

Brave

For Windows

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How to speed up the Brave browser

The following guide lists tweaks and suggestions on how to speed up the Brave web browser to reduce lag and improve the browser’s performance. We have published guide on speeding up the Opera and Vivaldi browsers previously, and this guide is the third part of the series.

Brave, like most desktop web browsers, is based on Chromium. Other Chromium browsers are Google Chrome, Vivaldi, Opera, and the new Microsoft Edge browser that Microsoft started to work on in 2019.

As a Chromium-based browser, Brave is quite fast already; the browser’s blocking of advertisement improves performance significantly as well when it comes to the loading of webpages.

Brave’s default settings leave room for improvements. Like all browsers, it ships with a default set of features designed to provide a good mix of features and speed.

Tip: My Experience with the mobile version of Brave on Android.

Brave’s Settings

brave settings

You can access the Brave Settings from the main menu or by loading chrome://settings/ directly. The settings are divided into a main and an advanced part, and it is a good idea to check them from top to bottom after initial installation.

  • Get Started — I prefer to load the previous session (Continue where you left off) but you may speed up the start of the browser by selecting “open the new tab page” or “open a specific page or set of pages”.
  • Appearance — Enable “use wide address bar” to give the address bar a bit more room. Not a performance setting.
  • Shields — Brave’s Shields feature blocks trackers and advertisement by default. You can check the “block scripts” setting as well to block scripts from running by default but that will lead to breakage and you having to create overrides for sites that don’t work properly if JavaScript is disabled.  Note that the feature is not as advanced as the blocking of scripts by NoScript or uMatrix.
  • Social Media Blocking — Unless you use any of those openly, disable all options here:
    • Allow Google login buttons on third-party sites.
    • Allow Facebook logins and embedded posts.
    • Allow Twitter embedded tweets.
    • Allow LinkedIn embedded posts.
  • Extensions — Depends on your usage. Disable “WebTorrent”, “Hangouts”, and “IPFS Companion” if you don’t use these.
  • Privacy and security — Consider disabling/modifying the following features to improve privacy:
    • Use a prediction service to help complete searches and URLs typed in the address bar.
    • WebRTC IP Handling Policy to “Disable non-proxied UDP”.
    • Automatically send crash reports to Brave.
    • Allow sites to check if you have payment methods saved.
    • Use a prediction service to load pages more quickly.
  • Downloads — Make sure “ask where to save each file before downloading” is checked to improve security.
  • System — Disable “continue running background apps when Brave is closed.

Startup parameters

Brave supports Chromium startup parameters. These are supplied on start and may modify certain features and settings of the browser that can’t be changed in the browser’s settings.

You may either run Brave from the command line and specify the parameters, or edit the shortcut that points to Brave to permanently use the parameters.

On Windows, you simply right-click on the Brave shortcut on the desktop or Start and select Properties. Note that you need to right-click on Brave a second time in the menu if you right-click on the Brave icon in the taskbar. Add the parameters to the end of the Target field and click ok to save the changes.

  • –process-per-site — Brave puts every page you open in the browser in its own process. If you notice that your devices hit the available RAM limit regularly, you may want to load Brave with the –process-per-site parameter to use a single process per site instead. Useful if you open multiple pages of a single site as it will reduce RAM usage.
  • –disk-cache-dir=z:brave –disk-cache-size=104857600 — You may move the disk cache to a faster drive or a RAM disk (if you have plenty of RAM). The value of the cache is in bytes. The number in the example sets the cache to 100 Megabytes. See How to use a RAM disk in Windows and check out our overview of free RAM disk programs for Windows.
  • –enable-low-end-device-mode — This enables low end device mode which improves memory consumption of the browser.

Now you: Have you tried Brave?

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My Experience with the mobile version of Brave on Android

I don’t use Google Chrome on Android; while the browser offers good compatibility and performance, its lack of support for extensions and thus content-blocking is what puts me off. I don’t mind advertisement on sites provided that the ads are not intrusive or annoying; I tend to allow ads on sites that I value as I don’t want these sites to go away because of a lack of funding.

One browser that I decided to take a look at on my Pixel 3a device was the Android version of Brave. You can check out our first look at Brave on Windows to get an overview of the desktop version.

Brave is a controversial browser; there is one side that likes Brave’s attempt at solving the current advertisement, privacy, and monetization crisis on the Internet. Criticism centers around Brave’s ad replacement plans and it is leveled at the browser not only from Internet publications that rely on advertising revenue but also users who believe that they trade the classic advertising model for just another.

I’m a light user when it comes to mobiles and mobile browsing. I use mobile browsers for the occasional lookup and search, but that is about it.

Brave on Android

brave browser android first look

Brave can be downloaded from Google Play. The browser has a 4.3 out of 5 rating on Google Play based on about 112k ratings. For comparison, Firefox Mobile has a rating of 4.4 based on 3.27 million votes, Opera a rating of 4.6 based on 2.91 million votes, and Chrome a rating of 4.3 based on 16.36 million votes. The other browsers have been around for longer.

The browser is based on Chromium which means that it uses the same core as Google Chrome. Web compatibility support and performance is excellent because of that.

Brave for Android comes with an integrated advertisement blocker that works similarly to the implementation in Brave for the desktop. The Shields feature is enabled by default and it blocks ads, tracking, and third-party cookies by default on all sites that you visit. You can increase the protection further by enabling script blocking and fingerprint protection.

The ad-blocking works fine on most sites; you may notice that some ads are still displayed but these are usually not of the annoying kind. You could enable script blocking on sites that still display advertisement as this should take care of these ad units as well but it may impact site functionality as well. The script blocking functionality does not provide options to allow or block specific scripts.

Protections can be enabled or disabled globally, and for individual sites. You find those options and others under Privacy in the settings. I have changed some options in Brave.

I changed the default search engine of the browser. It was set to Qwant which never really worked that well for my German queries. I switched to Startpage which is my default search engine on the desktop. Brave picks up search engines as you visit sites so that it should not be a problem selecting another search engine. You may set different search engines for standard and private tabs in the Settings.

brave browser

A Welcome Tour includes options to pick a search engine from the default selection of search providers.

The browser remembers passwords, payment methods, and addresses by default; all of these options can be turned off. Note that you cannot install extensions in Brave for Android; the installation of password managers is not supported because of that.

Brave displays a bottom toolbar by default and an URLbar at the top. You can disable the bottom toolbar to move its elements to the top, and switch between the default light and dark themes either automatically or pick one manually.

Brave’s settings include a couple of surprises that may be overlooked. The browser has an option to enable background video playback, manage notifications for the Browser and visited sites, enable syncing between other Brave versions, and change the scaling of text to force larger or smaller text sizes on all sites.

HTTPS Everywhere is integrated in Brave for Android. The default new tab page lists the number of HTTPS upgrades, ads and trackers that the browser blocked, and the estimated time it saved you.

Brave Rewards

Brave Rewards is integrated in the browser. It is an optional feature that you don’t need to enable. Basically, what it allows you to do is earn tokens by viewing ads that Brave provides.

These ads are based on interests inferred from browsing behavior that never leaves the browser according to Brave. You earn BAT currency and may spend it currently using the auto-contribute feature or tips feature.

Later on, you will be able to turn the virtual currency into money if you want, but for now, you may support sites that you like or tip people directly.

My Experience

The blocking of ads sets Brave apart from Google Chrome. Blocking means that pages load faster, that privacy is better, and that you will save battery in the process as well. Brave is not the only browser on Android that supports ad-blocking though.

Opera supports it too, and Firefox users may install extensions to block ads on mobile. In fact, Firefox is one of the few browsers that supports extensions on mobile right now. Whether that is going to change when the switch to the new Firefox for Mobile is made remains to be seen.

Browsing works really well on Brave for Android and while I wish that the browser would offer more granular controls for its content blocking and script blocking functionality, it is probably not a feature that is suitable for the masses.

All in all, I have to say that I like Brave a lot better than Google Chrome on Android. It has all the advantages but fewer disadvantages than Chrome.

Now you: which mobile browser do you use and why?

Ghacks needs you. You can find out how to support us here (https://www.ghacks.net/support/) or support the site directly by becoming a Patreon (https://www.patreon.com/ghacks/). Thank you for being a Ghacks reader. The post My Experience with the mobile version of Brave on Android appeared first on gHacks Technology News.

Brave Browser had a great tab preview feature, but it is gone now

All modern web browsers make use of tabs so that multiple sites and services may be loaded in a single browser window. Tabs display the page title usually and in some browsers also a site’s favicon if it exists.

Sometimes, you may want to check the content of an inactive tab without switching to it, e.g. for a quick check. Some browsers lack support for tab previews, others display only a small thumbnail or minor information when a user hovers with the mouse cursor over a tab.

Brave, a Chromium-based browser, offered a better solution in my opinion, at least for a while as the developers have removed it in the meantime.

Brave would display a full preview of the loaded site of the tab you hovered the mouse cursor over. It almost felt as if you switched to the new tab as the preview occupied the same area of the browser window.

The screenshot below shows the feature in action. The “About Brave” page was the active one, but the mouse was hovered over the highlighted Preferences tab.

brave show tab content on hover

You could move the cursor over multiple tabs and get the content of these tabs displayed. The feature had some limitations: you would only see the active part of a page and could not interact with it at all.

Brave users could enable or disable the feature in the Settings of the browser. The Tabs section, which is no longer available in new versions of the browser, displays an option to “show tab previews on hover”.

brave hover on tab switch

If activated, Brave would display the content of the webpage when you hovered the mouse cursor over a tab. You could change the tab preview delay from short to another so that previews would not fire immediately on hovering the mouse over a tab.

New Brave versions come without the feature; a message on Twitter on February 19, 2019 confirms that Brave had to remove Tab Previews when it moved closer to “Chromium”. All hope is not lost though, as Brave considers bringing it back.

Interested users may cast their vote for the feature on Brave’s GitHub project page.

Google is working on tab previews for Chrome but the company’s implementation will limit previews to thumbnails rather than full page previews. Google Chrome supported tab previews on Windows 7’s taskbar for a while.

Now You: what is your take on the tab preview feature?

Ghacks needs you. You can find out how to support us here (https://www.ghacks.net/support/) or support the site directly by becoming a Patreon (https://www.patreon.com/ghacks)). Thank you for being a Ghacks reader. The post Brave Browser had a great tab preview feature, but it is gone now appeared first on gHacks Technology News.

Former Mozilla CEO’s Brave browser blocks ads by default — but substitutes its own

Bravser

Over the last year, ad blockers, ad blocking, and malvertising — malicious advertising served by ad networks — have all been major news. Mozilla’s former CEO, Brandon Eich, has launched a new browser, dubbed Brave, he claims will solve the problem. Unlike Chrome, Edge, or Firefox, Brave is configured by default to block harmful ads, limit cookie-based tracking, and eliminate tracking pixels.

Bravabilities

Mandatory HTTPS and less tracking? Good.

Brave is designed to block so-called “programmatic advertising,” or ads purchased by digital networks, as opposed to deals and content negotiated by humans. In theory, programmatic ad buying increases efficiency and improves results, since the ads are now purchased and bid on by machines with incredibly sophisticated algorithms rather than by fragile meatbags. In practice, as we covered recently, these systems are easily exploited and are sometimes used to distribute malicious code.

Brave: Less a block and more a substitution

Here’s the catch with Brave, though. While Brave’s marketing makes much of blocking malicious advertising, it doesn’t prevent ads from being shown — it just changes what you see. Here’s how Eich describes the system:

Brave browsers block everything: initial signaling/analytics scripts that start the programmatic advertising “dirty pipe”, impression-tracking pixels, and ad-click confirmation signals. By default Brave will insert ads only in a few standard-sized spaces. We find those spaces via a cloud robot (so users don’t have to suffer, even a few canaries per screen size-profile, with ad delays and battery draining). We will target ads based on browser-side intent signals phrased in a standard vocabulary, and without a persistent user id or highly re-identifiable cookie.

Instead of seeing whatever ads a publisher has placed on their site, you’ll see Brave’s targeted ads. Brave still uses programmatic advertising, but will partner with specific ad networks that theoretically have better security practices. Brave will return 55% of ad revenue to publishers and give 15% of it to the browsers’ users. Another 15% of the ad revenue goes to the ad network, and Brave presumably keeps the last 15% for itself.

It’s an interesting concept, particularly the part where users receive a cut of the proceeds — but it’s not clear how meaningfully different this approach would be. As we discussed earlier this month, the very nature of programmatic advertising makes it difficult to perform security checks and guarantees. Brave undercuts the ability of websites to control their own digital experiences. While I understand that many users might view that as a good thing, it’s yet another example of a company trying to siphon control and revenue away from the company actually producing the content. There’s a saying: “If all your traffic comes from Facebook, it’s not your traffic.” The same concept applies to Brave and the idea of monetizing the browser in this fashion.

Eich has raised roughly $2.5 million in angel investor funding thus far, and the CEO claims he needs a stable user base of roughly seven million users to prove the system actually works. Right now, there’s no Brave binary executable you can download — the program just hit version 0.7, and you’ll need to be able to compile it if you want to test-drive it. The program is accepting applications for beta testing, but there’s currently a waiting list.

As an experiment, I’d be curious to see how Brave plays out. But I’m not thrilled about the idea of a browser that substitutes its own ads for what’s supposed to be on a page. We’ve seen third-party utilities do this for years — almost always with terrible results. Ad injections like this often harm page formatting or cause rendering issues, and while Eich has pledged to be a good citizen with minimal ads, there’s no guarantee that Brave’s “one-size fits all” advertising system would be sufficient to actually maintain a site.

Ad networks also have little reason to cooperate with the Web browser. From the ad company’s perspective, they’re buying space on a website, then paying Brave again to display the content that should’ve been shown in the first place.

Former Mozilla CEO’s Brave browser blocks ads by default — but substitutes its own

Over the last year, ad blockers, ad blocking, and malvertising — malicious advertising served by ad networks — have all been major news. Mozilla’s former CEO, Brandon Eich, has launched a new browser, dubbed Brave, he claims will solve the problem. Unlike Chrome, Edge, or Firefox, Brave is configured by default to block harmful ads, limit cookie-based tracking, and eliminate tracking pixels.

Bravabilities

Mandatory HTTPS and less tracking? Good.

Brave is designed to block so-called “programmatic advertising,” or ads purchased by digital networks, as opposed to deals and content negotiated by humans. In theory, programmatic ad buying increases efficiency and improves results, since the ads are now purchased and bid on by machines with incredibly sophisticated algorithms rather than by fragile meatbags. In practice, as we covered recently, these systems are easily exploited and are sometimes used to distribute malicious code.

Brave: Less a block and more a substitution

Here’s the catch with Brave, though. While Brave’s marketing makes much of blocking malicious advertising, it doesn’t prevent ads from being shown — it just changes what you see. Here’s how Eich describes the system:

Brave browsers block everything: initial signaling/analytics scripts that start the programmatic advertising “dirty pipe”, impression-tracking pixels, and ad-click confirmation signals. By default Brave will insert ads only in a few standard-sized spaces. We find those spaces via a cloud robot (so users don’t have to suffer, even a few canaries per screen size-profile, with ad delays and battery draining). We will target ads based on browser-side intent signals phrased in a standard vocabulary, and without a persistent user id or highly re-identifiable cookie.

Instead of seeing whatever ads a publisher has placed on their site, you’ll see Brave’s targeted ads. Brave still uses programmatic advertising, but will partner with specific ad networks that theoretically have better security practices. Brave will return 55% of ad revenue to publishers and give 15% of it to the browsers’ users. Another 15% of the ad revenue goes to the ad network, and Brave presumably keeps the last 15% for itself.

It’s an interesting concept, particularly the part where users receive a cut of the proceeds — but it’s not clear how meaningfully different this approach would be. As we discussed earlier this month, the very nature of programmatic advertising makes it difficult to perform security checks and guarantees. Brave undercuts the ability of websites to control their own digital experiences. While I understand that many users might view that as a good thing, it’s yet another example of a company trying to siphon control and revenue away from the company actually producing the content. There’s a saying: “If all your traffic comes from Facebook, it’s not your traffic.” The same concept applies to Brave and the idea of monetizing the browser in this fashion.

Eich has raised roughly $2.5 million in angel investor funding thus far, and the CEO claims he needs a stable user base of roughly seven million users to prove the system actually works. Right now, there’s no Brave binary executable you can download — the program just hit version 0.7, and you’ll need to be able to compile it if you want to test-drive it. The program is accepting applications for beta testing, but there’s currently a waiting list.

As an experiment, I’d be curious to see how Brave plays out. But I’m not thrilled about the idea of a browser that substitutes its own ads for what’s supposed to be on a page. We’ve seen third-party utilities do this for years — almost always with terrible results. Ad injections like this often harm page formatting or cause rendering issues, and while Eich has pledged to be a good citizen with minimal ads, there’s no guarantee that Brave’s “one-size fits all” advertising system would be sufficient to actually maintain a site.

Ad networks also have little reason to cooperate with the Web browser. From the ad company’s perspective, they’re buying space on a website, then paying Brave again to display the content that should’ve been shown in the first place.

Former Mozilla CEO’s Brave browser blocks ads by default — but substitutes its own

Over the last year, ad blockers, ad blocking, and malvertising — malicious advertising served by ad networks — have all been major news. Mozilla’s former CEO, Brandon Eich, has launched a new browser, dubbed Brave, he claims will solve the problem. Unlike Chrome, Edge, or Firefox, Brave is configured by default to block harmful ads, limit cookie-based tracking, and eliminate tracking pixels.

Bravabilities

Mandatory HTTPS and less tracking? Good.

Brave is designed to block so-called “programmatic advertising,” or ads purchased by digital networks, as opposed to deals and content negotiated by humans. In theory, programmatic ad buying increases efficiency and improves results, since the ads are now purchased and bid on by machines with incredibly sophisticated algorithms rather than by fragile meatbags. In practice, as we covered recently, these systems are easily exploited and are sometimes used to distribute malicious code.

Brave: Less a block and more a substitution

Here’s the catch with Brave, though. While Brave’s marketing makes much of blocking malicious advertising, it doesn’t prevent ads from being shown — it just changes what you see. Here’s how Eich describes the system:

Brave browsers block everything: initial signaling/analytics scripts that start the programmatic advertising “dirty pipe”, impression-tracking pixels, and ad-click confirmation signals. By default Brave will insert ads only in a few standard-sized spaces. We find those spaces via a cloud robot (so users don’t have to suffer, even a few canaries per screen size-profile, with ad delays and battery draining). We will target ads based on browser-side intent signals phrased in a standard vocabulary, and without a persistent user id or highly re-identifiable cookie.

Instead of seeing whatever ads a publisher has placed on their site, you’ll see Brave’s targeted ads. Brave still uses programmatic advertising, but will partner with specific ad networks that theoretically have better security practices. Brave will return 55% of ad revenue to publishers and give 15% of it to the browsers’ users. Another 15% of the ad revenue goes to the ad network, and Brave presumably keeps the last 15% for itself.

It’s an interesting concept, particularly the part where users receive a cut of the proceeds — but it’s not clear how meaningfully different this approach would be. As we discussed earlier this month, the very nature of programmatic advertising makes it difficult to perform security checks and guarantees. Brave undercuts the ability of websites to control their own digital experiences. While I understand that many users might view that as a good thing, it’s yet another example of a company trying to siphon control and revenue away from the company actually producing the content. There’s a saying: “If all your traffic comes from Facebook, it’s not your traffic.” The same concept applies to Brave and the idea of monetizing the browser in this fashion.

Eich has raised roughly $2.5 million in angel investor funding thus far, and the CEO claims he needs a stable user base of roughly seven million users to prove the system actually works. Right now, there’s no Brave binary executable you can download — the program just hit version 0.7, and you’ll need to be able to compile it if you want to test-drive it. The program is accepting applications for beta testing, but there’s currently a waiting list.

As an experiment, I’d be curious to see how Brave plays out. But I’m not thrilled about the idea of a browser that substitutes its own ads for what’s supposed to be on a page. We’ve seen third-party utilities do this for years — almost always with terrible results. Ad injections like this often harm page formatting or cause rendering issues, and while Eich has pledged to be a good citizen with minimal ads, there’s no guarantee that Brave’s “one-size fits all” advertising system would be sufficient to actually maintain a site.

Ad networks also have little reason to cooperate with the Web browser. From the ad company’s perspective, they’re buying space on a website, then paying Brave again to display the content that should’ve been shown in the first place.