Decentralized Apps: what are they?

Decentralized Apps: what are they?
Photo by Kanchanara / Unsplash

Decentralized applications, or dapps, are typically built on Ethereum and aim to give users more control over their finances and data.

Today, one of the greatest developments in technology is the invention of mobile applications. If you are a smartphone user, you must be familiar with mobile apps, and you must have different kinds of apps on your phone. One does not need any kind of professional training to use an app. Once you start using an app, you'll automatically learn how to use it.

They can keep you engaged the whole day and they are really fun to use. We cannot neglect the functionality and practicality of an app. They are so significant and reliable that we cannot willingly ignore them. They are pivotal for businesses but, they also shape our daily lives. They are a constant source of information, entertainment, and fun to us. But, as the technology advances improvements appear and now we're facing a new concept "decentralized apps".


Decentralized applications (also known as “dapps”) provide services similar to those offered by typical consumer applications, but they use blockchain technology to grant users more control over their data by eliminating the need for centralized intermediaries to manage it, thus making the service “decentralized.”

Digital apps are ubiquitous in today’s world. Consumers use apps for sending email, paying for parking, finding dates and myriad other use cases. Under conventional models of control and ownership, consumers usually hand over personal data to the company providing the service. With a decentralized app, users theoretically gain more control over their finances and personal data since they don't have to trust anyone else to store and secure the information. However, some experts are skeptical this will work in practice.

How is this possible?

Since Bitcoin launched more than a decade ago, blockchain protocols are constantly being developed and refined to unlock new functionalities and use cases. Now there is a budding industry of decentralized applications (dapps) built on blockchain — everything from finance to gaming to web browsing to collecting art.

Though most dapps are built with Ethereum, they are all built using blockchain technology. These dapps rely on blockchains to process data through distributed networks and execute transactions with smart contracts.

Just like developers build applications for mobile and desktop devices, dapp developers create applications to function on specific blockchain networks. The vast majority of dapp development is on the Ethereum blockchain. As a result, the Ethereum blockchain supports the majority of activity across the dapp ecosystem.

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Photo by Brett Jordan / Unsplash

Web Apps vs. Decentralized Apps

Trello, Slack, and Twitter are examples of companies that offer web applications. The usability of traditional web applications depends on two elements: the front end and the back end. Web applications use software that lives on centralized web servers, not the local operating system of any given device. Devices and servers communicate via coding messages through the Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP). For instance, when you open Twitter on your web browser, the feed on display (the front end) is drawn from data held on the company's web server (the back end).

While the internet channels huge amounts of data through massive, centralized servers, a blockchain represents hundreds or even thousands of machines that share the transactional burden over a distributed network. On the front end, decentralized apps and websites use the same technology to render a page on the internet. However, on the back end, dapps communicate with their respective blockchain networks through a wallet, which serves as a bridge to the blockchain ecosystem.

What are dapps used for?

Currently we can split dapps into three main types:

  • Financial apps: financial applications are popularly known as DeFi applications, short for "decentralized finance." The idea is to use blockchains (especially Ethereum) to improve more complex financial applications such as lending, wills and insurance and, stablecoins, alternative coins that aim to stabilize cryptocurrency prices.
  • Semi-financial apps: this is like the financial apps but require another piece, such as data from outside the Ethereum blockchain.
  • Other apps: Ethereum is a flexible platform, so developers are dreaming up other ideas that don't fit into the usual financial classifications. One example is to use this approach to create a decentralized social network that’s resistant to censorship. Most mainstream social apps, such as Twitter, censor some posts, and some critics argue those social apps apply inconsistent standards about what content is censored or “downranked.”

So, with a decentralized app, once you publish a message to the blockchain, it can’t be erased, not even by the company that built the platform. It will live on Ethereum forever. Some have explored taking this idea of decentralization even further. Let us know your opinion about dapps. Did you already know about them?

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