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Brave browser getting closer to Chrome -- including its extensions

The startup is dumping a system that offered a different look from Google's browser but that kept Brave from some advantages.

Brave browser logo
Brave Software

Brave Software is moving its browser a step closer to Chrome, a move that'll mean a new look and the ability to tap into the array of extensions that customize Google's browser.

The new version of Brave is in development now and due in several months, the startup said Wednesday. But curious developers now can start taking a look.

Brave always relied on Google's open-source Chromium project for its core functions processing and displaying websites. The new version, though, drops Brave's custom user interface, built on a project called Muon, and pulls in the Chromium look. That'll mean Brave users will have to get used to tabs across the top of the browser window, like Chrome, instead of tucked underneath the address bar.

Open-source software is a powerful force in the tech industry, letting startups move faster and lowering costs for established companies that don't want to pay to reinvent the wheel. But while open-source projects like Google's Chromium, Apple's WebKit and Mozilla's Firefox in principle can be modified by anyone, there are practical limits that make it hard to deviate too much from the mainstream project. Indeed, that's why Google split Chrome's core, Blink, from WebKit.

The hassle will be worth it, Brave believes. The new version should be faster, and it'll be easier for Brave to stay up to date with Google security fixes. For Brave users, the biggest thing could be that some extensions they fine-tune on Chrome now will work with Brave, too.

"The top requested extensions are Reddit Enhancement Suite, BetterTTV, Pinterest, Vimium, Grammarly and Evernote," Brave said.

Brave blocks ads and tracking software by default, but the browser doesn't shun advertising. The company plans to launch an optional system to show ads that are targeted from within the browser itself to protect privacy. Some of the resulting ad revenue can be channeled toward Brave's existing system to channel financial contributions to website publishers, YouTubers and Twitch video game streamers.

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