A screenshot from brave.com showing Brave browser on macOS and a mobile device, both laid out on top of a purple-red gradient.
Screenshot from brave.com as on 2020-08-08

Update (2020-08-09): Brave’s CEO has in the past do­nated to anti-LGBT causes and I no longer use Brave or rec­om­mend it.


Honestly, I was­n’t sure if this ar­ti­cle was go­ing to make it. Brave just has­n’t got a lot go­ing for me to write about.

It does of­fer some­thing call­ing Brave Rewards but I had dis­abled it quickly. I would love a col­lab­o­ra­tion be­tween Brave and Mozilla to use the lat­ter’s Firefox for Better Web Test Pilot if and when it launches.

They claim to be up to six times faster at open­ing news sites com­pared to Chrome, Safari, and Firefox on mo­bile and desk­top. Which is kind of weird. Why news sites in par­tic­u­lar?

I’ve spent per­haps roughly 3 to 4 days us­ing it. Here’s my thoughts.

Likes

  • Sync v1 did not re­quire me to cre­ate an ac­count. I could set up a sync-chain be­tween my de­vices. Less in­for­ma­tion to sur­ren­der is al­ways a good ap­proach to things.
  • Private win­dow ad­di­tion­ally of­fers ac­cess to Tor-based brows­ing. Reducing the bar­rier to pri­vacy-strength­en­ing tech­nolo­gies is great.
  • It’s fast - both the browser in­ter­face and the web. Zero com­plaints here. I’ve thrown a bunch of add-ons at it and it’s not slowed down an inch, at least per­cep­ti­bly.
  • Open source. A base­line cri­te­ria for many so it’s worth a men­tion here.

Dislikes

  • Sync v2 is cur­rently in de­vel­op­ment. Sync v1 mean­while has been dep­re­cated and is an ex­per­i­men­tal fea­ture. Upon en­abling it, my browser just kept on crash­ing within a minute or two of start­ing. So… I am left with­out book­marks sync­ing be­tween my two pri­mary de­vices.
  • Zan had men­tioned it on Fosstodon - there is no way to dis­able, at least from the UI, the back­ground for a new tab. Either you stick to a Brave-themed gra­di­ent, which I imag­ine is too strong for most peo­ple’s taste, or scenic pho­tos. The gra­di­ent would be some­thing sim­i­lar to what you see on the cover pic­ture of this post. Personally, I don’t mind the scenic pho­tos - though I do dis­like the sec­ond or two it takes for one to fade in.
  • No DNS over HTTPS. Just like Vivaldi, Brave too fails in im­ple­ment­ing this and is not a se­ri­ous con­tender for my long term use.
  • It does­n’t have an op­tion to switch be­tween day and night themes au­to­mat­i­cally based on sys­tem theme. However, its dark theme does trig­ger dark mode for sup­ported sites (through CSSs me­dia query prefers-color-scheme) so it does meet half-way.
  • No zoom con­trols for the browser UI. The tabs in­ter­face is tiny on my full HD screen. Both Firefox and Vivaldi feel very com­fort­able here.
  • Brave Shield blocks Plausible Analytics by de­fault. This is on a stan­dard set­ting! I don’t know how to fix this. I usu­ally like to let Plausible work” be­cause it does­n’t col­lect a lot of in­for­ma­tion any­way.

Verdict

Compared to Vivaldi, Brave is a very vanilla Chromium ex­pe­ri­ence. For the most part, it just feels like a skinned Chromium with a few ma­jor ad­di­tions that could well have been ex­ten­sions. This is not a bad ap­proach by any means — mak­ing these ex­ten­sions first-party of course of­fers a much tighter and uni­fied ex­pe­ri­ence.

Compared to Firefox, I sup­pose the only sell­ing point is speed. Which is not re­ally down to Brave as much as it is to the Chromium en­gine, Blink. Yet, this works. I am usu­ally not reach­ing for the set­tings page. BitWarden works - both on desk­top and mo­bile. I’m prob­a­bly go­ing to stick to us­ing Brave for a while.

Better this than Microsoft’s Edge which is ex­pected to be avail­able on Linux soon.