Why I use the Brave browser

Update 2020-06-30: I am still very happy with Brave, which I use everywhere (including in lieu of apps like Twitter and Facebook). If you care about your online privacy, downloading and using the Brave browser is the least you should do.

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First off, a disclosure: If you use my referral link to download the Brave browser, I will receive a small amount of BAT as a reward. But this is not why I write this. I write this because I got tired of giving the individual spiel to friends and family, the spiel being that there’s no reason to not use Brave, or at least to not give it a try.

My Brave home page

My Brave home page

I have been using Brave since its public beta in 2016 — long before the referral system was in place — although I didn’t make it my default browser until the 1.0 release in late 2019. Brave is now the default browser on all but one of my devices. Here’s why:

  1. Brave is like Chrome without the Google trackers. Brave blocks all third-party ads and trackers, which makes it faster and protects user privacy.
  2. Brave is based on the open-source Chromium — just like Chrome, Edge, Opera, Samsung browser.
  3. Brave comes with its own built-in cryptocurrency token — the Basic Attention Token (BAT).
  4. Brave gives users the option to view privacy-respecting ads, for which users receive BAT. 
  5. Web publishers can receive BAT tips from Brave users, which is an easy, seamless way to reward the websites you like. This blog and my Twitter are Brave-verified publishers.

Some Google services (like Google Translate) do not yet work with Brave. I still use Chrome for all Google services like Gmail and Drive and Docs — they require a Google account, so blocking trackers there is pointless. For everything else I use Brave.

Between ads and tips, last month I received 136.9 BAT (about $22.78). What is BAT good for? You can save it, or you can spend it. You can tip your favorite web publisher. You can convert it to other crypto denominations like Bitcoin, Ether, or XRP. You can convert it to US dollars and buy stuff with it (I tipped a web publisher and bought two ebooks from Amazon).

You are sitting at home, bored out of your mind, with time to burn. How about you try something different? Come on, jump in!

Confronting my technological prejudices

I have always been superficially prejudiced against all things Apple. When a seasoned technologist friend announced switching from Android to iPhone, I was curious. I asked him why. It was illuminating for me to hear his reasoning, which I present to you below.

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When I saw that my friend Bill Dollins — a long-time Android and Linux guy — is now an iPhone user, I was somewhat surprised. I wondered why he switched. I swiftly jumped to my own conclusions about his reasoning. Then, realizing that my conclusions were probably colored by my own biases (they were), I decided to just ask him. Bill agreed to entertain a few questions.

AT: Bill, why did you switch from Android to iPhone? I thought tech people use Android as a badge of honor. I thought Apple products were for artists, celebrities, and the VP of Marketing.

Bill: Working in an Apple shop allowed me to learn more about their products than I would have on my own. My primary reason has become privacy and security. The contrast on these issues between Google and Apple is stark. Apple takes these issues much more seriously for individuals than does Google and it is evident in technical and business choices they have made. 

For example, Apple’s smart home technology, HomeKit, doesn’t specifically require internet access, though some individual devices may. They do things like video processing via a HomePod, which can be disconnected from the internet. These are functions that Google or Amazon offload to the cloud, so connectivity is required. This design choice means that HomeKit doesn’t yet have a video doorbell option, so it can “slow down” feature development when compared to Google or Amazon. I’m okay with that.

The iPhone takes a similar approach. Like Android, it has a location history feature. Unlike Android, the history and all related processing remains on the device. There’s no centralized Apple cloud where it’s being stored along with everyone else’s to train some machine-learning algorithm.

I should note that I haven’t done anything yet with HomeKit myself, but I am considering it. My information comes from my Apple consultant, James Fee.

Having said all of this, I know that no technology is perfect. Zealots of Googlism or Amazonism will certainly nitpick anything that I have said here. That’s what block buttons are for.

AT: Where do you stand on the Windows / Linux / Mac divide for desktops and laptops?

Bill: My primary desktop machine, which I use daily, is still a System76 Ubuntu machine. My MacBook is company-issued and mainly used for specific work tasks and for when I travel. Windows has been the big loser for me.

AT: I used a MacBook once, years ago. I remember apps performing an elaborate dance on open and close. It made me dizzy, and I thought it was childish. I haven’t touched one since. Do Macs still do that?

Bill: I haven’t noticed that since I have been using a Mac. One thing I did notice is that some Mac idioms, such as two-fingered touchpad scroll, exist on more modern Windows machines alongside the older Windows idioms. I have an older Windows laptop that doesn’t support it, but I haven’t looked closely to see if that’s because of the generation of the hardware or of Windows. I’m not really concerned about it enough to investigate.

AT: Don’t tell anyone, but I have been thinking about an iPhone for a while, mainly as a means to distance myself from Google. I haven’t done it yet because I am concerned that my reputation will take a hit. What say you to that?

Bill: I will defer to the expert on this topic: Joan Jett. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nO6YL09T8Fw