What are D’Apps? – An Easy Guide to Decentralised Applications
Facebook and Snapchat, are consistently ranked as New Zealand’s top apps for Android and IOS. However, events like 2018’s Cambridge Analytica scandal, routinely demonstrate that major tech firms care very little about user privacy. There is good news, though.
Blockchain-based decentralised applications have the potential to put app users in full control of their private data. Proponents also argue that decentralised applications can tackle Internet censorship, and even improve the security of online payment processing.
What are D’Apps?
A D’App is essentially the same as any app anyone might download from Google Play or the IOS App Store. However, to understand what decentralised applications are, it is important to understand how regular apps work.
Apps like Facebook and Google Drive, are hosted on centralised IT infrastructure. This allows app providers to analyze any information uploaded to their platforms and any data communicated across their networks. This in itself is a major privacy concern.
Decentralised applications address privacy and security issues associated with regular apps. Specifically by building apps on decentralised platforms like the Ethereum blockchain.
- D’App data is not centrally stored or managed by third-party corporations
- All data communicated via D’Apps is end to end encrypted
- Immutable blockchain data storage makes communications impossible to censor
Key Features of Decentralised Applications
To qualify as a true D’App, decentralised applications need to be opensource and completely decentralised. D’Apps also need to feature a consensus algorithm which generates and uses D’App specific tokens to pay for network storage and bandwidth.
How do D’Apps Work?
D’Apps treat all transmitted data and app interactions like cryptocurrency transactions. Fees are, therefore, charged when sending D’App messages and uploading images to D’App equivalents of Instagram. At the same time, data becomes immutably stored on app blockchains, just like data on a cryptocurrency transaction ledger.
Storing and transmitting D’App data in this way makes information impossible to censor, steal, or share among unauthorized third-parties. Moreover, although app interactions are processed like cryptocurrency transactions, D’App transaction fees are negligible and many D’Apps are entirely self-funding. (Meaning that users don’t have to pay to play to use D’Apps.)
The Future of D’Apps
At present, decentralised applications on platforms like Ethereum, include decentralised freelance marketplaces, mobile games, and instant messaging applications. However, at present, most D’Apps can’t be downloaded and used like Android and IOS applications. Instead, D’Apps have to be operated using web browser add-ons like the Ethereum Metamask Google Chrome and Firefox web browser extension.
Given that most D’Apps can only be used using web browser extensions, mainstream consumer adoption of decentralised applications is somewhat lacklustre. However, in future, it is hoped that D’Apps will be as widely accessible as regular apps available via Google Play and the IOS App Store.