Amidst continuing revelations that companies are exploiting online personal data, consumer desire for decentralized applications is emerging. Known as DApps, these open-source applications cryptographically store their data on the blockchain. As a result, no single entity can access such data without the owner’s permission. They’re also resilient, as no central point of failure exists. And being open-source, anyone can view and make contributions to the application’s code. Perhaps best of all, DApps use and generate cryptocurrency tokens, creating an incentive structure for their use.
Nonetheless, the DApps industry is still in its infancy. Expectations that DApps would replace their web-based cousins fairly soon are overwrought. The sections below review where DApps development presently stands.
DApps Creation & Usage: Still Early
For now, most DApps serve as decentralized exchanges (nearly 50%), whereas roughly half as many (30%) serve as games or casinos. Moreover, the estimated daily active users are a tiny fraction of what we see on centralized applications like Facebook, Twitter, and WeChat. Their widespread use dwarfs Cryptokitties even on its best day. So DApps have a long way to go before they can be said to be competing with their web-based counterparts. As a Medium article notes,
If we exclude the implementation of blockchain solutions by large companies and take a look at DApps that ran an ICO, we’ll see that only
afew of them have made it big so far, but that’s just the way it is — the strongest survive, meaning the one that has the most consistent product, that meets market requirements and is capable of further evolution. This applies to everything. There are some good examples of DApps in advertising, labor reward, human resources, and internet browsing software. Other services — like car rental and taxis, food delivery, even healthcare — are being decentralized moderately, without obvious success, but it’s just a matter of time before we will see revolutionary examples.
When DApps do emerge from the shadows (and cryptocurrency goes mainstream), their incentive structure will likely prove a winning advantage.
Real-time Data in DApps?
While DApps appear to offer a compelling use-case, their ability to incorporate real-time data that will be essential to their success. Real-time data means sending and receiving data as it happens, often in milliseconds. By employing real-time data, DApps can become far more powerful. Consider this scenario,
imagine a service technician driving to his/her next job site. The app reviews traffic flows, guides the service technician to the optimal route, checks the client records for all relevant SLAs (service level agreements), warranties, financial issues, equipment location, past maintenance and repair records
andservice notes, and provides them without being asked. (Salesforce)
While access to real-time data is highly desirable, integrating real-time data feeds into decentralized applications can be challenging.
Current DApps that only handle cryptocurrency transactions need not worry about these issues. However, useful DApps typically require more functionality than a simple transaction settlement, as accessing real-time data from individuals or organizations becomes a vital utility.
The Limited Ability to Create
When developers consider writing DApps, they typically list learning Solidity as their #1 task. That’s because the Ethereum platform uses Solidity as a programming language. Fortunately, EOS platform is now allowing developers to create DApps in C++. And the gaming platform Tron is relying on Google Protocol Buffers to extend multi-language support to developers. However, a modular and fully code-agnostic development platform would seem the best solution for DApps developers.
- We are still orders of magnitudes away from mass adoption of DApps. As such, we must build an infrastructure conducive to their promotion and use. For instance, while Metamask is an excellent tool for ETH-based DApss, most non-tech users find it challenging to deploy. In contrast, Facebook and Twitter employ an intuitive, user-friendly GUI attractive to nearly everyone.
- There is a need to incorporate real-time data into DApps to create more useful tools to benefit the users.
- The inability of developers to code in any language somewhat hampers DApps development. However,
XTRABYTESwill allow them to do so with their code-agnostic development platform relatively soon.