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Brave ad-blocking browser gets Chrome's extensions with major new version

The ad-blocking browser looks a lot more like the newly redesigned Chrome, too.

Brave Core developer version icon

Brave Core's developer version icon

Brave

If you like Brave but also like extensions to fine-tune your web surfing, good news: A new version of the ad-blocking browser arrived Thursday that makes it as customizable as Google's rival Chrome.

Brave Chief Technology Officer Brian Bondy announced the new version, called Brave Core, on Reddit. There's only an early version geared for developers for now, though, and the Brave Core Dev download page warns it's not well-tested.

The main version of Brave today uses an interface called Muon, but the new Brave Core is built more directly on the open-source Chromium foundation of Google's Chrome. The change means that Chrome's extensive library of extensions will work on Brave, including Reddit Enhancement Suite, BetterTTV, Pinterest, Vimium, Grammarly and Evernote. It also adds lots of other features, though, including faster ad blocking and a new welcome page for first-time users.

Brave is trying to shake up the browser market with a system that began by blocking all ads and ad trackers by default. And it's begun a newer phase that offers an option in which the browser itself can pick ads for Brave users. That approach is designed to protect privacy and means some of the ad revenue will go to Brave and people using the browser.

The Brave payment technology, called the Basic Attention Token, accumulates crypto-tokens within Brave from grants that the startup issues its users, and eventually from ads if Brave users choose to see them. As set today, the Brave browser shares those BAT with website publishers, YouTubers, Twitch videogame streamers, and later, Redditors and Twitter users. They can redeem them for ordinary money.

A busy week for browsers

The new version of Brave makes this week an even busier one for browser makers than it's already been.

That's mostly because Google gave Chrome an interface overhaul Tuesday in conjunction with Chrome's 10th anniversary. Chrome dominates the market, accounting for about 60 percent of website usage, according to StatCounter.

Brave Core inherits Chrome's new look, with curvy tabs and other interface elements.

Brave Core inherits Chrome's new look, with curvy tabs and other interface elements.

Screenshot by Stephen Shankland/CNET

Brave Core inherits Chrome's new look, though modified in some ways -- for example with the Brave menu, placed on the right side of the address box, where you can fiddle with ad blocking and other settings.

One thing that's missing from the new version for now, though, is Brave's option to lock down private tabs with Tor privacy technology. That should arrive in coming weeks, Bondy said.

Four million people use Brave each month on personal computers and mobile devices, according to Brendan Eich, Brave's chief executive and formerly leader of Firefox developer Mozilla. That's a tiny fraction of Chrome, which has more than 1 billion active users and 2 billion installations.

One of Chrome's innovations was a regular six-week release cadence that automatically updates the browser with new features and security fixes. Brave has issued its versions more sporadically, but that'll change with Brave Core's three-week cadence, according to an ask-me-anything forum with Brian Bondy.

That cadence means Brave Core will arrive in beta form in late September and in major release form most of the way through October, Bondy said. But be careful, since that'll still technically be version 0.55. 

"Shortly after this, we'll get to our 1.0 release," Bondy said. "With Brave Core you'll go from feeling like you should use Brave, but you still want to use Chrome, to wanting to use Brave no matter what."

First published Sept. 5, 7:09 p.m. PT

Update, Sept. 6, 10:07 a.m. PT: Adds that the new Brave Core release is now available.

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