A while ago I had discovered the Brave browser for mobiles, which was a Chromium fork that featured ad blocking and privacy guards out of the box, when Google stubbornly refused to enable extension support for mobile Chrome. The thing is, it was only available for mobiles. And even if it were available for the desktop, would it really have anything over Chrome with extensions like uBlock Origin installed?
The answer is YES! Brave for PC is available and, from the limited interaction I've had so far, it is superior to Chrome. Why? Let me list the reasons:
- it cares about your privacy and not about how Google can track you best, which might not be high on your agenda or on your browser extension creator's agenda. That's a plus, because as you didn't care about it before, you don't have to care about it now, but it's taken care of.
- by removing unnecessary functionality from Chromium, it is actually faster than Chrome! Are you old enough to remember when Chrome appeared as the underdog and Internet Explorer reigned supreme and then everybody was like "IE sucks, Chrome rules because it's so fast and only cares about the user experience"? That's what Brave does now to Chrome!
- it has a "forced" dark mode flag that can turn EVERY web site dark. It's not perfect, but it's out of the box! All you have to do is go to brave://flags/#enable-force-dark and enable the feature. (admittedly, you can achieve the same effect with chrome://flags/#enable-force-dark or edge://flags/#enable-force-dark, but I only found out about it from Brave)
- the best feature yet is the Simplified View. Most of the times when you open a web site in the mobile version, you get a "Show simplified view" button. You click on that and you get:
- just the text of the web site
- whatever font you want
- whatever theme you want (dark/bright)
- no ads
- no flashing things
- no sidebars
- no "accept cookies" and "register/subscribe" popups
Again, this is probably a Chrome feature, but Brave made it public, visible and natural. Haven't found the way to turn it on the desktop browser, yet.
Correction: I have found that in Chrome you can enable reader mode with a flag (chrome://flags/#enable-reader-mode) only it doesn't work that well. In Brave all that moved to what is called Speedreader, which also must be enabled via a flag (chrome://flags/#brave-speedreader).
Have you ever browsed one of these "modern" web sites and you got half way through scrolling past the huge image that fills the screen only to get a big popup about registering to some bullshit service, with another popup asking you to enable cookies and then some lazy overlay hiding the content and demanding you pay for the content? Imagine you have one button to click and you get to read the actual information on that page! How can people browse on the web without Brave?!
I know that some extensions cover most of the points above, but Brave plus uBlock Origin are amazing! I get to a web page that is automatically stripped of most ads, but there are still parts of it that are not strictly ads, like a subscribe form in the middle of the content, for example. You use the Block Element feature of the ad block extension and you get the cleanest browsing experience you can get. (BTW, Brave also has its own Block Element option, so you might not need an extension at all!)
And there are dark clouds on the horizon. With the V3 manifest version that Google is pushing, many of the APIs available to ad blocker extensions are limited or downright broken. It's not in their interest to block ads, considering they are in the advertising business. Their biggest achievement (and mistake) was to open source Chromium, so no one can take something like Brave away from you.
Bottom line: switch to Brave. It's like Chrome, only a lot better! And I am not really one of those "fuck the system, stick it to the man" people, so don't think I do this because I have some big agenda. I really really enjoy using this browser and I hope you will, too.