Brave, makers of the privacy-focused Brave browser, launched a new search engine in public global beta on Tuesday (via TechCrunch). Brave Search, like the company’s browser, is meant to be a private and transparent alternative to Google’s offerings that doesn’t turn users into carefully surveilled targets for advertising. It also isn’t dependent on Google’s results — Brave Search uses its own independent index of the web to function.
Using an entirely different index is kind of a big deal. Google obviously dominates the space (to the point of becoming its own verb) and even other popular privacy-focused search alternatives like DuckDuckGo rely on a mix of results from larger indexes like Microsoft’s Bing and their own web crawlers. Brave claims its search engine will default to its own results, but the company does clarify that for certain kinds of searches where it still isn’t able to produce results with enough relevancy (or enough results at all), it pulls answers from other providers.
To measure how many of the results Brave shows you are truly “independent,” the company is also including a “search independence metric” which you can pull up anytime via the menu in the top right corner of Brave Search. After enough searches, Brave is able to calculate what your personal “results independence” percentage is and also display the global results independence percentage for all Brave Search users. It’s not the most informative metric, but Brave does view it as a sort of promise that it will become more and more independent over time.
Along with being upfront about its results, Brave also says that it won’t track or profile users, and it claims it won’t use “secret methods or algorithms to bias results.” Brave is actually working on a proposal for a community-curated open ranking model called “Goggles” it hopes to use as an alternative to Google’s algorithm. The model would let users:
Create sets of rules and filters...to define the space which a search engine can pull results from. Instead of a single ranking algorithm, we could have as many as needed, overcoming the biases that a single actor (the search engine) embeds into the results.
Brave plans to make its search engine the default engine for its browser later this year. The engine will remain free to use, with an ad-supported version on the way and a premium ad-free option coming at some point down the line.
The Brave Search beta is available now in the Brave Browser for desktop, Android, and iOS, and also at search.brave.com.