Why Dapps Are Going to be Better Than Apps
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This article has been brought to you by DappRadar, a dapp data aggregator and analysis firm.
Back when everyone was upgrading to smartphones, Apple caught the zeitgeist with its meme - “There’s an app for that”.
The point was compared to the slow, generalized world of desktop web, mobile apps could present very specific information very quickly.
As a concept, an app for everything worked for a while, but then it became clear people really didn’t want to consult hundreds of apps covering every little aspect of their lives.
“There’s an app for that” became a joke. Even Sesame Street got in on the act..
Now we know, on average, people have around 75 apps installed on their phone but only use about 10 daily.
Apps are really useful but the revolution wasn’t about fragmenting all information into small silos, but about creating new, faster and more personal ways of interacting; Instagram, Tinder, Snapchat, Whatsapp, etc.
No more big brother
So far, so good. But what about dapps?
Simply put, dapps - decentralized apps - are the next generation of apps; promising all of the convenience we’ve come to expect but with some new key features.
On one level, the decentralized’ part of dapps concerns access and distribution.
At the moment, most of us get our apps from either the Apple App Store or Google Play Store. Of course, there are plenty of other stores. Google doesn’t operate in China, for example, so there are dozens of local Chinese Android stores. Similarly, OEMs like Samsung and telcos run their own stores, and there are some third party operations too.
Yet all of these stores have their own policies about what apps are acceptable.
Equally, there have been recent cases where live apps have been retrospectively removed because of (perceived) external pressures. A good example is Apple’s removal of the HKmap.live app.
By their very nature, however, dapps are decentralized. Once they’re live and running on a blockchain such as Ethereum or EOS, they can’t be shut down, at least while the underlying blockchain is operational.
Indeed, even more than this, any data that’s been saved on a blockchain can’t be deleted either, at least unless you have the resources to attack and take over the entire blockchain.
And this is the reason people in the blockchain space talk so much about the technology being ‘censorship-resistant’.
Once a dapp is up and running, it’s almost impossible to stop it and the information it contains. In an increasingly authoritarian world, that’s becoming more important.
Hands off my data
Another important feature of dapps is their potential to deal with issues such as privacy and who has access to our data.
Because everything is decentralized, it’s much easier for developers to build such controls into their dapps
Also because public blockchains such as Ethereum are cryptographically secure and open-source - their code overseen by dozens of independent developers - they’re much less vulnerable to the sort of hacks and breaches that have bedeviled the centralized data centers of most big IT companies.
More significantly, however, using such decentralized technology means developers can build inherent security into their dapps, ensuring users have active control who has access to their data.
On one level, you can then share your holiday photos knowing they’re just available to friends and family, while also ensuring only your doctor can see to your medical records, and your new mortgage broker access to your financial data.
Another way to play
Of course, this doesn’t necessarily mean dapps will necessarily take these issues more seriously than app developers currently do.
But the promise of blockchain technology is how it will make it much easier to take the best features of current apps - speed, accessibility etc - and combine them with an inherently secure technology that we as users have much more control over.
Indeed, because of the way most blockchains work, as well as these advantages, users will also gain the opportunity to get paid in small amounts of cryptocurrency.
This could happen as you opt into advertising, or from affiliate links as your friends and followers act on your purchasing recommendations.
Certainly, this revolution won’t be easy. Blockchain creators and dapp developers still have plenty of work to do to make dapps as fast and simple to use as apps currently are. Decentralization is much more complex to get working than the centralized status quo.
But the advantages of dapps are so great, it’s impossible the revolution won’t happen. In other words, it’s a question of when not if.