This is Why we Need Decentralized Apps: The Top 10 dApps of 2019
Apple’s Tim Cook is currently under fire for removing an app used in Hong Kong to track police movement from the app store.
He sent a memo to Apple staff saying that the app was removed because it was being used to “maliciously target individual officers for violence” and “victimize individuals and property where no police are present.”
Last year in China, an anonymous user named “Beast” posted a detailed explanation of pharmaceutical corruption spanning almost two decades. The post instantly went viral, but was swiftly deleted the next day.
Fortunately for the Chinese people, the original text was posted on the blockchain, and there it will live forever. This misuse of power is exactly why we need decentralized apps (dApps) in 2019.
But necessity doesn’t always effectuate change, and governments all over the world are hesitant to allow citizens the right to basic privacy. Panos Mourdoukoutas of Forbes predicts, “big governments will crush bitcoin, but won’t kill it.”
In January of this year, China began allowing Ethereum to bypass the “Great Firewall”. But this doesn’t guarantee total decentralization. The Chinese government will ban any company from using the blockchain to post content that violates Chinese law (shocker.)
Even in countries with less aggressive censorship, dApps aren’t as decentralized as they seem. But as blockchain technology progresses, users will discover more to evade the prying eyes of the government.
“It appears its goal is to take advantage of the resiliency and tamper-proof nature of blockchains while canceling out their most radical attribute: censorship resistance.”
While dApps are still in their infancy, the level of innovation shown so far has been impressive. Some are useful, some are pointless, but all of them connect users and providers directly. These are the top 10 dApps that you can get right now.
PepeDapp is a meme marketplace and wallet for digital art collectors and artists. The app runs on the Ethereum networks and uses “Smart Contracts” to post and sell “Rare Pepes”. RarePepes are unique works of digital art, inspired by the famous Pepe the Frog meme.
Contributing artists decide how much to charge and how many copies are sold- adding to the rarity factor. Art on the blockchain creates a more ethical way for digital artists to be paid for their work. They receive payment faster than traditional methods, and being able to track to ownership decreases the prevalence of pirated Pepes.
A one-of-a-kind Homer Simpson Pepe was sold for 350,000 PepeCash. That amounted to a whopping $39,000 USD at the time.
LivePeer is a peer-to-peer video sharing app that allows the community to shape its itself. Felix “PewDiePie” Kjellberg has been the face of YouTube for years, and he’s been public about his disdain for YouTube’s new ad friendly policies, stating, “they don’t care about creators.” YouTube’s aggressive censorship shows no signs of stopping, and this is just one reason why LivePeer may become increasingly popular in the future.
SpankChain gives the term “D”apps a whole new meaning. Since raising 6 million in their 2017 “Spank” coin ICO, Bitpay reported $1 billion in 2018, and has seen B2B business grow 255% since 2017.
Seasoned cam-girl River Sunshine told Coindesk, “I was making on three sites combined, 6 percent of what I made in the same 30-day period on SpankChain.” This is because the app only charges 5% of earnings, instead of the usual 50%.
But SpankChain is far from perfect. The site had $38,000 worth of Ethereum hacked last year, stating, “It was our decision to forego a security audit for the payment channel contract.” If they can manage to fill the inherent security holes (pun intended), SpankChain just might become the porn of the future.
With CryptoKitties users can collect and breed rare digital kitties with Ethereum. This is similar to the process of trading rare baseball cards in the sense that the kitties are 100% unique to you, and can’t be replicated. CryptoKitties isn’t a currency in and of itself, but it provides a fun and educational way for newbies to learn about crypto and blockchain technology.
If you love movies but hate lining Netflix’s pockets, Mtonomy is the dApp for you. Rent or buy hard-to-find films, documentaries, and theatrical shows with ether.
According to NBC, Mark Zuckerberg has been using user data as leverage over partnership companies.
“In some cases, Facebook would reward favored companies by giving them access to the data of its users. In other cases, it would deny user-data access to rival companies or apps.”
-Olivia Solon and Cyrus Farivar
dApps like tweed(dot)social take the greedy middle men out of the equation. It’s all the fun of social media without the invasive ads, spam, data selling, and the dreaded “people you may know” (which may actually be people that stalk your profile!)
Etherush is a space exploration mining game. Explore the planet of Callisto and find precious minerals to win ETH. You can accelerate your mining by buying new ores and supplies. This game is a easy and fun way to introduce your friends to blockchain technology.
MetaMask isn’t so much a dApp, as it is a “bridge” to use apps running on the Ethereum blockchain. The browser extension allows you to seamlessly run many different dApps in your browser without running a full Ethereum node. The add-on can be used with Chrome, Firefox, Opera, and the new Brave browser. The developers wanted to find a way to make dApps accessible for everyone.
Ethlance is similar to Upwork in that its a marketplace for freelance jobs. But Upwork charges a fee of 20% of the first $500 billed by a client. Even worse, freelancers have to purchase “connects” to even apply for job opportunities. Ethlance is different in that it doesn’t charge a contractual work commission or additional fees.
VoteChain was created with the mindset that voting can be improved by implementing a hybrid of both physical and digital blockchain voting options. The creators made the app in response to suspected voting fraud of the Mexican government last year.
They aren’t the only ones encouraging blockchain voting: Moscow is currently developing a blockchain voting system that residents can use to vote in the municipal elections.
2020 Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang even went as far as to say, “It is 100 percent technically possible to have fraud-proof voting on our mobile phones today using the blockchain.”
While this is an interesting concept, it’s simply not possible (not yet, anyway). French CNRS researcher Pierrick Gaudry warns of the risks associated with blockchain ballads:
“It can be broken in about 20 minutes using a standard personal computer, and using only free software that is publicly available. More precisely, it is possible to compute the private keys from the public keys. Once these are known, any encrypted data can be decrypted as quickly as they are created.”
DAPPS CAN’T FIX EVERYTHING
So while blockchain isn’t the solution to every problem at the intersection of society and technology, (as some like to believe) its potential importance cannot be understated. Increased accessibility to decentralized apps (and the process of making them) may lead to life-changing use of blockchain technology, and I’m just along for the ride.