Brave – the Chromium-based privacy and openness-focused web browser company acquired “Tailcat” last year. This was a European open-source search engine, and now that it’s been rebranded as Brave Search, the team behind it is attempting to take on Google Search to provide a more user-centric experience than the tech giant.
The idea was to build a service from the ground up that would return search results for individuals without the targeted advertising or malicious algorithms often offered by corporations. You can read all about the team’s ambitions in their academic paper.
Now, Brave Browser itself has made the decision to nix Google Search as the default for finding information in place of Brave Search, and well, that’s a brave move. The CEO states that the default search engine being set to its own will dramatically increase adoption rates for those who use its browser. Additionally, the Web Discovery Project was also introduced, which lets users share specific data with the company without compromising their privacy. Essentially, this data would be anonymous and would lack any clear identifiers. It’s also completely optional.
I’ve tried Brave Search, and its proposition comes at a cost. I found it to be much less useful at autocomplete, correcting searches, and finding relevant information than Google. I suppose it will take time for the company to sort through these issues. For example, I’ve been wanting to try some delicious Korean hotteok, which is a pancake that’s often filled with nuts, brown sugar, and or syrup, but I forgot how to spell it because I’m an uncultured swine. Google would have caught that and fixed it for me, but with Brave, I had to know the exact spelling, and anything less brought up anything but food.
As Google continues to face scrutiny in the court over its advertising practices, more competitors like Brave are sure to crop up in an attempt to service users. Apple itself has allegedly been working on its own search engine to rival Google’s, but whether or not any of these will have staying power remains to be seen.
Google has been on the forefront of information technology for decades now, even going far beyond returning links and implementing artificial intelligence and machine learning to better understand the relationship between humans and computers. I need to do more research on Brave, but if any rival hopes to take on Google, they will have to do a lot better than to only return little blue links like Google did a decade ago.