Brave's Search Engine Is a Good Start

But it needs more work to be completely useful

Key Takeaways

  • Brave Search is a privacy-centered search engine now available for anyone to try in beta. 
  • The search engine has its own search index and promises it won’t track or profile users based on their searches. 
  • After using Brave Search, I think it is helpful for simple search queries, but it ultimately doesn’t have all the bells and whistles we are used to with Google.
Closeup of someone using a laptop and touching a virtual searchbar overlayed on the image.

Sompong Lekhawattana / Getty Images

Privacy is important these days, so if you’re looking for more online privacy, Brave Search could be a solution. 

When you think of a search engine, your mind probably pictures Google, but many privacy issues come with using the site. As an alternative, Brave Search recently launched its privacy-centered search engine in beta as a way to search the web without being tracked. 

After a weekend of using Brave Search, I can see the value of using it for simpler searches, but it still leaves much to be desired for more detailed or location-specific searches. 

"... for me, it’ll take some time to get used to using Brave."

Searching Safely 

Brave says it won't collect your IP addresses or search data. The search engine built its own search index without relying on other providers, so it does not track or profile users to serve them targeted ads or use your personal data against you.

Eventually, Brave Search says it plans to offer ad-free paid search and ad-supported free search, so users can have more control over their search experience.

Over this past weekend, I exclusively used Brave Search whenever a question popped up or I wanted to search where to go out for dinner. You can filter your results as top results or local results (Brave Search uses the IP address stored on your device, but says it does not store that address or geo-location on the website). 

Silhouette of someone's hand on a laptop with a neon blue, wavy background.

Aitor Diago / Getty Images

My experience with Brave Search was hit or miss. When I had to search simple things like asking a question or looking for a fact, the results showed up easily, and it was refreshing not to be served ads as the first few search results. 

It's important to note that, for some queries, Brave Search lacks the "Featured Snippets" that Google gives you as an answer at the very top of your search results and instead just gives you links you can click to find your answer.

For super-simple answers, such as "what is the weather in Chicago," it will provide you with the straight answer at the top, but more detailed questions like "what is the average weather for Chicago in October" will not show up as a simple answer. 

In another instance, I searched for a specific restaurant I had been to before but forgot the name of, so I searched "Greek restaurants near me," but it wasn’t showing up in Brave’s search results. I had to hop over to Google to search the same thing and was able to find the restaurant within seconds. 

Is It Worth It? 

Brave Search is easy to use and is great for simple search queries where you’re looking for a quick answer or solution. The site has many of Google's same features, such as News search, Image search, and localized results. 

"When I had to search simple things like asking a question or looking for a fact, the results showed up easily, and it was refreshing not to be served ads as the first few search results."

I didn’t see any targeted ads pop up on my social media the entire weekend, although that could simply be a coincidence. Nevertheless, it was still refreshing, and Brave Search could very well be the reason why. 

However, if you are specifically searching for images or want to find products to shop for, Brave Search won’t be as useful as Google. The company said its image searches aren't relevant enough yet, so it will use results from other search engines until it expands its own index. I found that the image search from Brave didn’t produce nearly as many relevant results as Google. 

I also think it’s hard to break our web habits, and for many of us, Google has been our go-to search site for decades. Especially if you use Google Maps or other Google products like Google Drive, it can be hard to get out of that Google mindset, so for me, it’ll take some time to get used to using Brave. 

If you want to try the search engine for yourself, you can provide feedback to Brave since the site is in beta. And maybe in the future, it will be just as helpful as Google—without all the privacy issues.

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