Monday, May 27, 2019
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Alternative browsers Opera, Cliqz, Brave: It does not always have to be Chrome


Who wants to develop a new browser, must be reasonably insane. About two-thirds of all people now use Google's Chrome on the World Wide Web. Even Safari, which is preinstalled on every Apple computer, only has a market share of almost five percent. Firefox has also lost users over the past few years.

That does not mean that there are no alternatives besides Chrome. Just in recent years, new browsers have appeared that promise more privacy, are extremely fast and also contain clever additional functions. Below we introduce the three browsers Opera, Brave and Cliqz.

Opera: Fast browser with smarter sidebar

A list of alternative browsers without Opera? Not really. The software has been available since 1995, meanwhile the former Norwegian company belongs to a Chinese consortium. The further development did not hurt it, on the contrary: Only at the beginning of of April appeared a big update.

Opera is based on Chromium, the open source browser on which Google Chrome is built. Therefore, some functions are similar, such as the common address and search bar or menu navigation. The most noticeable difference to Chrome and other browsers is the customizable sidebar. Among other things, users have access to the web versions of WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger. You could of course also open in a separate tab, but so they are always available immediately.

The snapshot tool in the sidebar allows quick screenshots of websites. My Flow allows users to send files and notes from the desktop browser to the mobile Opera Touch on their smartphone. The newsreader can subscribe to news sites or good old RSS feeds. And via the extension "Chrome Extensions" can also be installed in Opera add-ons that were actually developed for Chrome. Otherwise, there are many popular extensions, such as password managers such as LastPass and Dashlane, and Opera.

Other features are more for specialists, such as the built-in cryptocurrency wallet. Everyday relevant should be the integrated Virtual Private Network (VPN): If it is activated, the data in Opera via a server abroad. This way, you can disguise your own IP address and bypass country bans on YouTube videos, for example. With the range of functions and the security precautions paid VPN provider should not equate Opera's solution, but for safe surfing in open hotspots, it is always good.

Otherwise, Opera has a built-in adblocker as well as numerous privacy settings and customization options that make it worthwhile to take another look at the almost 25-year-old browser alternative.

Brave: browser with built-in gate function


Brave with integrated access to the Tor network


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Brave with integrated access to the Tor network

Brave is not as old as Opera. The open source browser has only been around for almost three years. But with Braendan Eich, co-founder of Mozilla, Brave has a prominent boss. And Brave sees above all as an alternative for users who value privacy.

Brave is also based on Chromium, but in appearance the similarities stop. The core of the browser is the Brave Shield, a built-in advertising, script and cookie blocker, which is displayed when visiting a website in the address bar. Here you can set individually for each page which data should be recorded. So much control is rare without extensions. In our review, Brave has reliably hidden ads on most pages. As the default search engine, the privacy-friendly Qwant is set up, but of course you can also set Google or Duck Duck Go.

The ad blocker by Brave is also in the criticism. After all, many commercial offers, including SPIEGEL ONLINE, rely on advertising. But the makers of Brave are not in principle against banner ads. In future versions, users should be able to display advertisements that Brave classified as privacy-friendly. Website owners can already sign up for Brave Rewards: Users of the browser can then transfer small amounts of money anonymously using the crypto currency Basic Attention Token (BAT).

For Brendan Eich and his team, this direct exchange between user and provider is a new payment model for online content. Whether it carries is questionable. For this, Brave would have to win enough users and partners who want to deal with cryptocurrencies.

Unlike Brave, Brave does not offer so many customization options. It is still in a relatively early stage of development, and individual sites like Netflix require users to reload certain components. But that goes directly over the address line and takes only a few seconds.

Nevertheless, Brave is already a serious alternative to other browsers. Not least because of the secure surfing mode via the Tor network. In most browsers, if a "safe window" only means that no data about the visit is stored locally, Brave will actually route traffic through the Tor network and make it anonymous. Without additional software, without add-on. A real unique selling point.

Cliqz: Anti-tracking browser made in Germany


Cliqz with discount program MyOffrz


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Cliqz with discount program MyOffrz

The developers of Cliqz pursue similar goals to those of Brave, but are not quite anarchic in their approach. No wonder Cliqz belongs to the German media company Hubert Burda Media, and the Mozilla Foundation is also involved. Because Cliqz is not based on Chromium, but on Firefox. In 2017, Cliqz also acquired the popular browser extension Ghostery to integrate its anti-tracking feature.

Data avoidance is therefore also the focus of Cliqz. For example, in the search engine integrated in the browser. If you enter search terms in the address bar, you will first receive suggestions from Cliqz in a preview. Only when "Enter" is pressed, opens an external search engine like Google. The developers promise thus "relevant results, without disclosing personal data". Cliqz itself collects anonymized search requests from all users to improve the suggestions. A "creation of user profiles" is excluded, it is said.

In general, Cliqz tries by all means to disguise which user visits which website. The browser uses a complex anti-tracking technique that replaces, among other things, personal identifiers in URLs. This is to avoid that users can be tracked across multiple websites. This is unique in browsers so far. For additional control, users can set for each website whether to block or allow ads, cookies or trackers.

As in Brave, there is a partner program in Cliqz. It's called MyOffrz and shows the browsers relevant offers and bargains on their surfing behavior. For example, when they visit a streaming service, they may receive a promo code for another entertainment offer. Also for this function no preferences are stored or determined; everything takes place locally on the device.

An additional privacy feature is a porn mode. Properly read: Cliqz automatically opens websites with adult content in its own window and does not save the visit in the chronicle. Cliqz also supports its own browser extension Re: Consent. For services such as Facebook or Google, it indicates which rights the registered users have granted to the platforms. So a kind of security check. Also useful: A video downloader that makes it easy to save YouTube clips.

Cliqz is a browser that is worth trying out. Source Open, developed in Germany and equipped with innovative anti-tracking technology, it provides more control over their own data than Firefox and Chrome. A simple import of bookmarks and timelines from other browsers facilitates the transition.

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