What are Decentralized Apps (dApps) in Blockchain?
Anyone who has a phone is familiar with the concept of apps. (That’s almost everyone these days!) These apps on the phone can be used for a wide variety of purposes ranging from social media (Instagram, Snapchat), games (Subway Surfers), entertainment (YouTube, Spotify), etc. In other words, you think of something and there’s most probably an app available for that. Decentralized apps are also apps that are based on Blockchain and fundamentally different from normal apps. So let’s understand what are Decentralized Apps (dApps) in Blockchain.
Unlike normal apps that run on centralized servers that belong to the company which owns them, dApps run on a decentralized peer-to-peer (P2P) network that is based on Blockchain. But to understand the finer workings of these Decentralized apps, let’s understand what Blockchain is first. Most people have only heard about Blockchain in the context of Bitcoin so let’s see the underlying mechanism of Blockchain, and then we’ll move on to dApps.
What is Blockchain?
Simply speaking, Blockchain is exactly what the name suggests which is a chain of blocks. The blocks in Blockchain are actually digital information that is connected using cryptography. The information in each of the blocks is connected to a unique 32-bit whole number called a nonce. The nonce also has a 256-bit hash number attached to it that provides security in the Blockchain. Since each hash number of a block references the previous block, so al these blocks are strung together to form a chain. So the name Blockchain!
The advantage of Blockchain is that it is distributed which means everyone obtains a copy of the blockchain. There is no single organization or computer system that has exclusive access to the blockchain which means there is no centralization. So it is very difficult to modify the data in the blockchain because to do so every copy in every location would need to be changed (which is near to impossible) This makes blockchain very secure and also promotes transparency as the information in the block is not hidden in any way. This is the technology that is leveraged to create Decentralized applications or dApps.
What are Decentralized Apps (dApps)?
Decentralized apps or dApps are similar to all the other apps that might have on your phone with the only exception being that they are decentralized. So imagine the Twitter app that you have on your phone. You can post anything you want on Twitter but ultimately it’s controlled by a single company that can delete your tweets if they violate community guidelines or some other reason. But if there was a Twitter type dApp, then it would be decentralized and not owned by any one person. If you posted something there, nobody would be able to delete it including its creators.
So these decentralized apps are run on peer to peer network based on the distributed nature of Blockchain. Multiple people can create content and consume content on these apps that is free of any control and interference from one person. In fact, these are some foundational requirements for dApps. The other’s include:
1. Open Source: dApps should be open source and its codebase should be freely available for all. Any changes in the structure or working of the app should only be taken by agreement of the majority.
2. Decentralized: dApps should be decentralized with all the information and operations stored on a public and decentralized Blockchain which would ensure security and transparency.
3. Incentive: dApps should offer some sort of incentives to their users in the form of cryptographic tokens. These are a sort of liquid assets and they provide incentives for users to support the Blockchain dApp ecosystem.
4. Protocol: dApps should have a particular protocol to demonstrate proof of value. This means showing the value of a particular process in a way that can be easily verified by others.
What are Some of the Most Common Platforms for Creating dApps?
There are many Blockchain platforms created by various companies. While the most popular and commonly heard one is Bitcoin, there are many others that are used to create dApps. These Blockchain platforms are further used as a base to create dApps. So let’s see some of these now:
1. Ethereum: Ethereum is the most popular decentralized, open-source blockchain in the world currently. It is used as the base for many Blockchain projects, including more than 2500 dApps. In fact, Ethereum is only second to Bitcoin in terms of its market value. Ethereum also has a native cryptocurrency known as BTH which is their version of Bitcoin. All in all, this is an excellent option for creating a dApp although it’s a bit expensive.
2. NEO: NEO is also a decentralized, open-source blockchain that aims to create a smart economy. It is also called the Chinese Ethereum and provides better options for scalability in dApps as compared to other Blockchain platforms. NEO is currently less popular than Ethereum with only about 100 dApps built using this technology. It’s also quite expensive and can even charge higher fees than Ethereum in some cases.
3. TRON: TRON is a comparatively new Blockchain platform as compared to Ethereum or NEO. However, it’s quite popular and may even become a competitor to Ethereum in the future. TRON is particularly famous for gaming applications and gambling sites. There are around 1500 dApps created using this platform which makes it an excellent choice.
Some Popular dApps
Here are some popular dApps
1. CryptoKitties: CryptoKitties is a fun app that is used for entertainment. You can buy kitties on the app using cryptocurrency then breed and sell them at a profit. Apparently, cute cats are popular everywhere, even on Blockchain because CryptoKitties was once responsible for 10% of Ethereum transactions daily.
2. OpenSea: Open Sea is a dApp that encourages interaction between various games based on Blockchain. Gamers can exchange their collectibles from any cryptocurrency based game on OpenSea. Currently, this dApp supports collectibles from Ethereum only, but they plan to expand in the future.
3. WINk: WINk is the most popular dApp for gambling based games in the market. It included everything from poker to dice games to sports betting. WINk is based on the TRON platform and the winners in betting get WIN tokens which can then be exchanged for BTT which is a sort of cryptocurrency like Bitcoin.
4. IPSE: IPSE or InterPlanetary Search Engine is actually a search engine with Blockchain as its base. IPSE is based on EOS blockchain and it uses the InterPlanetary File System (IPFS) which is an improvement over HTTP on the internet. A big advantage of IPSE over other conventional search engines is that it guarantees security and privacy on the internet.
5. Blockchain Cuties: For anyone interested in CryptoKitties, Blockchain Cuties is a great option. It allows you to focus on multiple cue animals like puppies, bear cubs, lizards, etc. apart from kitties. Blockchain Cuties is a dApp that is accessible using multiple Blockchain platforms like Ethereum, NEO, TRON, etc., unlike CryptoKitties which favors Ethereum only.
dApps are the continuation of Blockchain culture and a wonderful invention because of their focus on security and transparency. While there are relatively few dApps in the market as compared to conventional apps, that’s only because Blockchain is a new technology, and dApps will become more and more popular when Blockchain becomes commonplace. Until then, learn more about Blockchain, maybe invest in Bitcoin and check out the dApps provided here. Kitties are always fun!