Brave now uses its own search engine by default • The Register


The Brave browser will now default to using the company’s own search engine, which supposedly protects privacy, while a new Web Discovery project aims to collect search data again with privacy.

The Brave web browser is based on the Google-sponsored Chromium engine, but has features designed to prevent tracking, as well as an unusual reward system with its own cryptocurrency, the Basic Attention Token (BAT). Brave Search is now the default for new installations for desktop, Android, and iOS. Existing Brave users will keep their current default unless they change it.

Brave Search was released in beta in June and uses the technology called Tailcat, which was acquired from the failed German Cliqz project, which also wanted to provide a Google-free index.

The company said in June that “Brave Search will pull results from Microsoft Bing for some features, like searching for images,” in line with claims made by Ecosia founder Christian Kroll, who told us earlier this month that the Existence of Bing “absolutely essential” for competing search providers.

A search independence metric shows the percentage of results returned from the Brave Index, which at the time of writing is 87 percent of all Brave search users. The company says it gets nearly 80 million requests a month. Google does so many queries in less than four minutes, according to the numbers here.

Search independence shows how many results are from Brave compared to other search engines, mostly Bing

Search independence shows how many results are from Brave compared to other search engines, mostly Bing

Searching is clever in that regard, as there is an option to “search elsewhere” at the bottom of the results, in our case using Google, Bing or Mojeek (a UK-based independent search engine). Performing another search immediately is one of the poor search results indicators that can optionally be tracked to improve the search engine.

Brave Search is currently ad-free, the bad news is that “the free version of Brave Search will soon be ad-supported,” according to a post from yesterday. “Brave Search will also offer an ad-free premium version in the near future,” announced the company, but further details are not yet known.

Brave also introduced the Web Discovery Project, a method of collecting user data (e.g., “Brave needs data to support his privacy search,” the project explains. The project aims to link records as to the same person including preventing profiling “by strictly forbidding any user ID”.

User data is still aggregated, but on the user’s device and when data is sent back to the Brave server, any user ID is omitted.

How good is Brave Search? Since many people use search to navigate, many searches are trivial and mean “take me to Apple” or something similar. A question like “How many states in the US” is answered (as a “prediction”) as you type on Google, with Brave search returning a Wikipedia article first and requiring more clicks to get the information.

A developer query like “call to undefined function simplexml_load_file” successfully returns a stack overflow entry with helpful information. There are many types of searches, however, and our brief experiments show that Brave is way behind in terms of depth and quality of organic results, but a delight in terms of ad freedom – and while that will change, it can still happen Be less confusing and advertising heavy than a typical Google search results page.

While a new privacy-respecting search index is generally welcome, there is still a long way to go before it can make a big impact. According to Statcounter, Google currently has a market share of 92 percent, with Bing in second place with 2.66 percent. When it comes to web browsers, Google Chrome and Apple Safari make up around 84 percent of the market, and they both use Google search by default. Brave’s market share is somewhere in the “Other” category, despite the fact that the company reports over 13 million daily active users, more than double what it was a year ago. ®

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