Applications like WhatsApp, Instagram, Spotify, Facebook, and Google Chrome are becoming a common part of our everyday lives. WhatsApp for instance has about one billion active users per day and therefore, doesn’t need much of an introduction. There are currently over two million apps on Apple store that have a high volume of users.
Interestingly, people find the term ‘decentralized applications’ rather confusing and require some explanation. So what are decentralized Applications (DApps)? How do they differ from normal applications?
What are DApps?
DApps are applications that are built on a distributed platform with trust distributed among its users. They are designed to avoid single points of failure and are also more transparent and accountable that the existing applications.
Most application users would accept that many of our digital assets do not truly belong to us. They are fully controlled by application owners for instance, the documents that we upload on websites could easily be censored or taken down by the web host. Also, we do not have much control over how our data is handled by these applications. Moreover, users also find it difficult to switch away from applications, due to vendor lock-in.
DApps on the other hand have their core parts being run on a distributed network that is publically accessible and viewable by anyone. Users have private keys that grant full control and authority over these assets. This open model of development also allows other DApp developers to create competing products that plug into this distributed network, giving users more choice and control over the way they interact with these applications. Essentially, they give power and freedom back to the user.
Characteristics of a DApp
-Its code should be open source
-It is decentralized and not under any authoritative body
-Data is encrypted and stored electronically for security
-Miners, farmers, and developers should be incentivized for their contribution
-Tokens should be generated based on the cryptographic algorithm
Types of DApps
DApps that manage money – they deal directly with the exchange of currency or to settle contracts, they use nodes to distribute data. Examples include currency DApps, network DApps, and Peer-to-peer DApps.
DApps that involve money – they mix the use of money with information available from the outside world. Examples include insurance DApps and network DApps.
Decentralized Autonomous Organizations (DAO) – they run without leaders and rely on smart contracts to carry out tasks and work based on specific algorithms. Examples include governance and voting DApps.
Getting started using a DApp
There are currently over 2,000 DApps available in the market and most of them are based on the Blockchain technology. DApps are like an interface for smart contracts and the Blockchain. They allow you to use smart contracts and Blockchain in a user-friendly environment. To get started using a DApp. You will need to connect with a network and already, there are several tools in existence that help you to do so. Some of them include STEEM, Scatter, Metamask, and Torus. The major challenge in using DApps is that there are many steps required to get started on these tools. It can take you up to 16 steps and puzzles before getting started which scares most beginners away.
That is why it is crucial to look for a simplified tool that is both frictionless, seamless, secure, and beginner-friendly. A good tool should also be platform Agnostic which essentially means that it has no regard for the technology behind the App, be it Ethereum, EOS, POA, and STEEM.
Building a decentralized application
Although DApps are available on many different Blockchains, Ethereum is still the most popular which is why you will commonly hear the term ‘Ethereum DApp’. Therefore, to be able to build either a smart contract or a DApp, one has to learn the Ethereum’s programming language. The language is designed in such a way that anyone with a good grasp of more basic programming languages like Java and Python can learn how to use it very fast.
Real-world examples of Decentralized Applications
It is a travel industry application that allows users to buy or sell insurance for flight delays and cancellations. Thanks to the Blockchain technology every insurance agreement is available for public viewing, the transactions are permanent and the payments are instant.
The Golem project takes decentralization to the whole other level by allowing users to rent out their extra computing power in exchange for its own token GNT. Transactions are peer-to-peer and private, completely independent of the Golem network.
This app allows freelancers and employers to use smart contracts to handle their transactions. it has eliminated the need for an intermediary to pay a fee to. People are therefore paid on time and only when work has been completed.
Advantages of DApps
High level of security – they are more secure than the traditional applications since they are less prone and vulnerable to attacks, hacks, and alterations.
Decentralization of power – there is no central authority in control of DApps. There is also no outside influence from external points of power like corporations or the government. This is good because it gives each user of the app, more power over its direction and the applications in our everyday life.
The potential for innovation — There are a large amount and variety of DApps being created and some are even unrelated to privacy and security. This shows that there are unparalleled uses for this technology and that there are lots of potentials for it to grow in the future.
Industries that could benefit from Decentralized Apps
Energy – elimination of middlemen, fair sharing of power
Politics – safe, secure and transparent voting
Loans and Mortgages
The purpose of the above guide was to help you learn what DApps are and what they do. By reading this article in full, you should now know a little bit about the Blockchain and smart contracts. I hope that when somebody asks you to explain what DAPPs are and why they are important, you will have a good answer to it. We would love to hear what you think about our guide and any ideas that you have for the future of decentralized technology. So, let us know!