[App Friday]: After WhatsApp’s online privacy concern, app-only browser WAVE is finding many takers

WAVE is a mobile browser app that claims to deliver full privacy. The app started trending when Amitabh Bachchan and Abhishek Bachchan tweeted about the app.
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When WhatsAppupdated its privacy policy early this year, users across the world, including India, were worried about their privacy. It even caused lakhs of users to switch from WhatsApp to Telegram and Signal to be ‘safe’.

Overall, there has been a growing apprehension among internet users with regard to their data privacy and safety on the internet. Riding on this trend is a new app called WAVE. Launched by India and France-based company Alkymia in 2021, the mobile browser app was founded by Marc Miance and Anish Mulani. The app calls itself a ‘social browser’ and lets you browse in incognito mode and chat anonymously.

The app started trending when Bollywood actors Amitabh Bachchan and Abhishek Bachchan both tweeted about WAVE. In a tweet, Abhishek Bachchan wrote,

"@elonmusk tweets about chat privacy. He’s right! But what about web privacy? With @WAVEAppIndia we can be assured of complete privacy. Now that makes a big difference, no one can take my data anymore. Time for change! #privacymatters Join WAVE".

Amitabh Bachchan also quote tweeted the app wishing the app good luck.

The app is also supported by cybersecurity experts, professionals, and mentors that include Abhishek Bachchan and French movie and internet tycoons Jérome Seydoux and Xavier Niel.

Anish Mulani, Co-founder and India CEO, WAVE, says, that full privacy is the real expectation of the customer and a core need that WAVE addresses.

“We named the app WAVE because it represents a new wave in terms of the mindset for the mobile consumer industry,” Anish tells YourStory Media.

The app makers say that given the fact that Indian web users are increasingly talking about online privacy and India having one of the largest user base of mobiles, WAVE has chosen India as its launchpad.

Launched early this year, WAVE claims to have crossed over one million installs on Google Play Store and is also available on iOS. 

We decided to check out this new app to see if it is really making waves.

Let us explore the app

The app seems to be inspired by Gandhiji’s three wise monkeys. Once you download the app, you can see three monkeys that say - nobody can see what you browse, nobody can listen to your chats, and nobody can tell what you share.

The company dubs the browser as ‘your privacy app’. Once you skip this page, you can immediately start using the browser as it does not ask for any details from users like their email id, and one need not create an account either. The app also does not ask any permission to get started.

On incognito

The WAVE app’s homepage has a search bar on the top, and below that are some of the most used web apps, and the rest of the home page is curated news. At first glance, the homepage looks similar to other popular browsers such as Chrome.

But if you look at it carefully, the search bar of the app has an incognito symbol by default, which means, unlike other browsers, you will not have to switch to incognito mode. WAVE lets you browse in complete incognito mode.

The app uses the search engine of DuckDuckGo, a US-based internet search engine that emphasises protecting users privacy and avoiding the filter bubble of personalised search results. Users can also select search engines and escape from keyword collection.

The app makers say that WAVE creates a private place on your phone that can be accessed only by you and no one else can collect your data. It also ensures that your data is not shared with any internet company. To check this, we browsed through the files on our phone’s internal memory and did not find any file named WAVE. It looks like no cookies stay on your device.

Privacy features

The browser has a dropdown menu on the top right, which has various options to make the experience more private. For instance, you can block ads, manage history, and erase it, and decide when the browser records your navigation history. The app even has a tracker shield, which protects you from being tracked online.

The browser allows you to save items as bookmarks, which works like a gallery. One can also download files such as photos and videos via the app. However, we were unable to find out how it can be done without saving cookies.

In terms of the app, everything in the WAVE browser is toggle-based, which makes the user interface is extremely easy to use and simple.

Browser-based chat

The most interesting thing about the app is the chat feature. However, to chat with other users, you have to punch in your mobile number, and that may defeat the purpose of ‘privacy’. But in its privacy policy, the company clarifies that it just collects the phone number for this feature and does not collect the browsing data.

“To support continuous optimisation of the app, certain data like time spent, frequency of usage, number of chats created, etc., are collected for analytical purposes,” the company says in its privacy policy.

You can also add friends from the WhatsApp app for the chat inside the browser app. The chat bar stays within the WAVE browser, and one can share and chat while browsing instantly and continuously, without any glitch while switching apps or pausing videos. While this is interesting for those who want to browse and chat, we are not sure if it is optimum privacy. The company says in its privacy policy that when you chat on WAVE, you are anonymous, and the company does not read messages or connect messages to your identity.

The verdict

WAVE essentially combines a chat and browser at the same place with a sharp emphasis on privacy. It is worth noting that the WAVE browser app is ensuring privacy and your data is not shared with third parties, which results in more secured browsing.

We really like the app, and for a change, not sharing your data with the big internet giants is a welcome change.

WAVE by design is mobile-first and is designed for the next mobile generation. The incognito-by-design app seems like a great addition to your phone’s browser, and we would recommend you give it a try if you are concerned about privacy.

Edited by Megha Reddy

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