Last week we reported that Vivaldi’s ad blocker will continue to work even after Manifest V3. And now Brave has done the same to reassure its users that it will also support ad blocking after the dreaded update and Manifest V2 extensions like uBlock Origin.
Brave’s ad blocker will support Manifest V3
brave software tweeted a message to inform people that Manifest V3 will break ad blockers and its own browser will not be affected by the change. A few months ago, Brave CEO and co-founder Brendan Eich Explain that the limitations caused by Manifest V3 directly affect extensions by limiting their capabilities, but browsers can still access the required API. This is what the Brave browser will rely on to ensure that its built-in content blocker continues to work.
This will change once extended Enterprise support ends, when Google removes said code from the Chromium project, and all browsers that depend on it will have to follow suit. You might say that doesn’t sound promising, but that’s pretty much exactly what the Vivaldi devs have been mentioning lately. Both browsers depend on the underlying code to access webRequest for their built-in ad blocker to work.
Brave Browser and Manifest V2 Extensions
There is more to this news. Here’s what the company’s tweet says.
“Brave will support Manifest V2 extensions like uBlock Origin even after Chrome stops doing so.”
Vivaldi had assured users that its ad blocker would continue to work beyond Manifest V3, but the Brave browser wants to go further, saying it will support third-party Manifest V2 extensions. Brave’s ad blocker is quite good and in some ways better than Vivaldi’s implementation, especially when it comes to the ease of adding custom filters. But uBlock Origin with its item picker, custom filter lists, etc., is way more powerful than a built-in content blocker with limited functionality. So while this may be amazing news for users and developers, I don’t know how Brave’s plans to support Manifest V2 extensions might work in reality.
A Reddit user points out that Eich had wondered if Google would launch Manifest V2 extensions from the Chrome Web Store, and when asked how Brave’s long-term support for Manifest V2 code paths might work , he had replied that “we could send them back in at a higher maintenance cost”.
He had also mentioned that Brave was open to keeping some add-ons like uBlock Origin and uMatrix to begin with, this seems to suggest that the browser may not support “all Manifest V2 extensions” as the tweet seems to suggest, but only a few selection. It’s not really impressive. I can only imagine that Brave could achieve this either by bundling add-ons as an optional feature that users can toggle, or by hosting an online store for extensions on its website. Eich’s words on hosting and curating add-ons suggest it could be the latter.
Wouldn’t it be better to open a proper extension store, similar to Opera’s add-ons site? Brave has launched its own search engine and partnered with cryptocurrency wallets, so presumably the company has the resources to host its own online store for extensions. This would require effort and willpower from add-on developers, who would need to upload and update their Manifest V2 extensions in the store. Brave would need to revise the extensions in order to prevent malicious plugins from sneaking in. A curated list of specific add-ons would be easier and financially viable to implement.
An extension store would still only be a temporary solution. Once Chrome completely abandons Manifest V2, Brave and Vivaldi will have to find another way to support older extensions, or see their users switch to Firefox.
But there is good news, Google will drop support for Manifest V2 in 2024, contrary to its previous plans to discontinue it in 2023. This will give browser makers and ad blocker developers the time they have much-needed to work on their projects, to find a way to continue to protect users from harmful changes in Manifest V3.