We’ve said it before, and we say it now: blockchain offers so much more than cryptocurrencies. The development of decentralized applications (dApps) is one great example. In this article, you will learn the basis of dApps, discover the most popular dApp platforms, and find out which dApps are worth your time.
Here are some of the questions we’ll be covering below:
- What is the meaning of dApp?
- What are dApps used for?
- Is a smart contract a dApp?
- What are the best dApp platforms?
- What are the best dApps in 2020?
What is the meaning of dApp?
The term “dApp” is an abbreviation for decentralized application. These applications look exactly like any other app on your mobile device. The difference between an app and a dApp is that the backend of the latter runs on a decentralized peer-to-peer (P2P) network instead of centralized servers.
Just like regular apps, the frontend of dApps can be written in any language. As for hosting, dApps can opt for decentralized storage, such as Swarm or IPFS. While many of us still haven’t tried dApps, they can be easily downloaded from Google Play or App Store.
Theoretically, dApps should meet the following criteria:
- Open Source: the source code should be publicly available.
- Decentralized: it leverages cryptographic technology to run operations.
- Incentive: it offers incentives to users in the form of digital tokens.
- Protocol: the system generates tokens and includes an inbuilt consensus mechanism.
What are dApps used for?
As mentioned above, dApps are a lot like regular apps on your device. That said, dApps can be used for any purpose. From casino games to token swaps to search engines, there are no limits for what dApps can do. However, it’s important that regardless of its purpose, it incentives the usage of the application through digital tokens. After all, that’s an essential part of a decentralized application.
Is a smart contract a dApp?
No, a smart contract is a computer protocol that automates the execution of agreements between the multiple parties without the interference of intermediaries. In other words, smart contracts are lines of code that allow contracts to self-execute when certain terms and conditions are met.
While smart contracts are not dApps, they are used to run them. Typically, a centralized application interacts with a database via API to provide the data you request. Decentralized applications, on the contrary, interact with the blockchain through smart contracts.
Best Platforms for Blockchain dApp
Not long ago, blockchain was a synonym for Bitcoin. Today, that’s not longer the case. As developers found out additional use cases for the distributed ledger technology, like dApps and smart contracts, numerous companies started to develop their own blockchains. So… what’s the best platform for blockchain dApps?
This blockchain hardly needs an introduction. Released in 2015 by Vitalik Buterin, this open-source distributed computing platform has gained huge popularity as many decentralized projects issued tokens on top of its blockchain. Over the years, Ethereum’s multiple protocols have given birth to over 2000 dApps, including well-known Cryptokitties, IDEX, 0xUniverse, among others.
The increasing number of applications depending on this blockchain has certainly helped Ether (ETH) to become one of the strongest cryptocurrencies by market capitalization. Overall, Ethereum is solid choice for launching a decentralized application, although it has one big disadvantage: fees. The Ethereum network works with a Proof-of-Work (PoW) consensus algorithm, which consumes plenty of computational power. At the end of the day, that computational power translates into high fees.
Whatever product goes out, a cheaper (and sometimes better) Chinese version follows. This rule also applies to blockchain. NEO, also known as the “Chinese Ethereum” has recorded a top speed of 2400 transactions per second and on average processes 400 TPS. Compared to Ethereum’s 15 TPS, this network offers decentralized applications an environment geared for scalability.
While NEO is able to handle a higher number of transactions, it charges high fees. In some cases, even higher than those charged by the Ethereum network. At the moment, there are nearly 75 dApps based on this blockchain.
Despite being one of the newest players, TRON is already seen as a true “Ethereum Killer” due to its ability to offer high speed, massive scalability and low fees. This blockchain has gained its popularity as a go-to choice for many crypto gaming and gambling sites. In terms of transactions, TRON processes about 300,0000 transactions per day, making it a suitable platform for high-volume gaming decentralized applications.
Released on January 2018, this relatively new blockchain has become a real threat to Ethereum as it deals with over 50,000 daily users, three times more than Vitalik’s platform. Again, the promise of this platform is around the same points aforementioned: transaction speed, throughput and low fees.
Top 10 dApps In 2020
#1 — CryptoKitties
CryptoKitties was the first dApp to become a “sensation” in the cryptocurrency community back in 2017. Three years later, this application continues to be a great entry point for newbies in the decentralized world due to its remarkable simplicity.
As most dApps in this list, CryptoKitties is nothing more than pure entertainment. The idea is that you can buy blockchain-based kitties, breed them, and eventually sell them at a profit. It’s popularity had a huge impact on the development of the Ethereum blockchain. Back in the days, CryptoKitties accounted for about 10% of Ethereum’s daily transactions.
CryptoKitties are non-fungible tokens built on the Ethereum network using protocol ERC-721; ETH is required to fuel transactions related to CryptoKitties.
#2 — IPSE
InterPlanetary Search Engine (IPSE) is a decentralized search engine based on the EOS blockchain using the InterPlanetary File System (IPFS) — a hypermedia distribution protocol expected to replace HTTP and be a cornerstone in the development of the Web 3.0.
Some of the key differentiators of IPSE against traditional search engines is the strong privacy protection and lack of advertisement. Users of IPSE are incentivized to share valuable data with token rewards.
#3 — Blockchain Cuties
If you’ve been playing CryptoKitties, then Blockchain Cuties is your obvious next step. This blockchain game doesn’t focus entirely on kitties, but the adventures also include puppies, lizards, bear cubs, cats and other real and fantasy creatures alike.
Unlike CryptoKitties, this crypto game isn’t solely based on a single blockchain. Ethereum, TRON, EOS and NEO blockchain users can all join the RPG-style missions. One distinctive aspect of this game is that it’s 100% free to play. Blockchain technology guarantees the full ownership of your cuties and allows you to transfer them for very low fees.
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#4 — OpenSea
OpenSea is a decentralized marketplace for non-fungible tokens. The goal of this platform is to allow gamers to exchange their collectibles from any crypto game out there. In other words, it enables interactivity between blockchain-based games.
At the moment, OpenSea only supports most Ethereum based collectibles, but it plans to add games from other blockchains in the near future. All transactions are handled with smart contracts, meaning there are no intermediaries or central authority.
#5 — WINk
When it comes to crypto gambling dapps, WINk (formerly known as TRONBET) is the top choice. This platform includes all kinds of crypto games, from traditional dice and poker games to sport betting.
WINk is mainly based on the TRON blockchain. That said, players have the opportunity to earn WIN tokens, which can be easily traded for more liquid choice like TRON or BTT.
WINk recommends users to use the TRONlink or GuildWallet Chrome extensions. The platform is available in multiple languages, such as English, Chinese, Korean, Russian, German, Spanish, Portuguese, and French.
#6 — MakerDAO
Launched in 2015, MakerDao is among the most successful projects on the Ethereum blockchain. MakerDao is a decentralized lending platform that allows people to borrow a stablecoins (DAI) pegged to the U.S. dollar.
Sure, there are other crypto lending projects out there. But what really sets this project apart, it’s the way it’s the decentralized operation behind it. Instead of relying on a centralized company, MakerDao has a governance system that leverages smart contracts to regulate lending operations and the stablecoin stability.
When people pay their DAI debts, they also have to pay for an interest. The interest is controlled by a decentralized network of Maker (MKR) tokens, which ultimately profit from it.
#7 — Newdex
Despite cryptocurrencies being the result of decentralized peer-to-peer technology, most exchanges are centralized. Ironic, right? Hopefully, dApps like Newdex are stepping in to solve this matter. Newdex is a decentralized exchange for EOS and TRON tokens.
Unlike other decentralized exchanges, Newdex presents a clean, user-friendly platform focused on functionality. With it, holders can exchange tokens without a centralized authority charging fees and imposing restrictions on withdrawals and other aspects related to trading activity.
#8 — Uniswap
One of the problems with cryptocurrency exchanges is their messy user experience. If you are not an experienced trader, then there are many features you certainly won’t be using. Uniswap is about simplifying the exchange process of ERC20 tokens in a decentralized way.
However, if you feel comfortable with more complexity, you can play an active role in the liquidity pool by staking tokens, and receiving a cut of Uniswap’s trading margin as a reward.
#9 — Loom
Staking tokens isn’t a straight-forward process. Yet, it’s an essential activity to keep blockchains secure. Loom Network is a decentralized application that simplifies the staking process through their LOOM token.
Once you have these tokens, all you need to do is transfer them from the Ethereum blockchain to Loom’s Basechain, and select which validator node you want to stake with. The longer you stake tokens, the more LOOM rewards you get.
#10 — Crypto Sword & Magic
Are you into role-playing games? Great, because Crypto Sword & Magic is a decentralized dApp game that will turn you into a hero and set you in adventures to fight enemies, and level your battle skills. This EOS-based game was originally released as a Facebook game, which explains its widespread popularity.
This game is free to play. However, you will need an EOS wallet in case you plan to perform some transactions, like buying or selling gear for developing your profile.
#11 — My Crypto Heroes
Another popular choice for role playing lovers. My Crypto Heroes was the most popular blockchain game in 2019, although it isn’t one exactly easy to play. The reason is that it was developed in Japan, and most of the players are from there.
In other words, an English-speaking player might find it hard to interact with the community. If you’re still up for the challenge, this game offers a free mode to play without a wallet or payment. For those willing to get serious, a 0.1 ETH/month fee is charged for a Prime VIP plan.
#12 — Karma
As its name suggests, Karma is a decentralized application focused on rewarding people for their good deeds via the KARMA token. Karma is presented as a social media platform.
By sharing quality content, members get rewarded by the community. Each day, you can claim your token rewards. The platform itself looks a lot like Instagram, so you shouldn’t have a hard time interacting with it. However, it is still in beta mode and some bugs are possible.
#12 — CHAI
What is CHAI? Launched in June 2019, CHAI is a mobile payments app powered by Terra’s blockchain network. CHAI offers the same seamless payment experience as mainstream apps, where users simply add their bank account to pay. But in the background, Terra lowers transaction fees and instantly settles with merchants through its blockchain technology.