Decentralised Applications (dApps) are one of the most important use cases for the Ethereum Network. There are already a number of them and they are growing.
With smart contracts as the heart of the protocol, you can find decentralized applications (dApps) built with smart contracts that range from gaming and gambling to asset exchanges and finance to media and social dApps and more.
In this post, I am going to give you everything that you need to know about Ethereum dApps. I will also take a look at 8 of the best dApps that are currently fully functional and ready for you to use.
What are Ethereum Dapps?
While the blockchain is an immutable ledger, Ethereum has taken the blockchain further through the creation of smart contracts that allow developers to create open-source software built on the back of the blockchain to leverage its many advantages.
Typical Structure of a Basic dApp. Image Source.
Because the blockchain is decentralized, the applications built on top of a blockchain are also decentralized, meaning they have no central authority or ownership. Once a dApp is deployed even the developers no longer have control over it.
Common Ethereum dApp features:
- Open Source – Dapps should ideally be open-source software with the code able to be examined and proven free of malicious code.
- Decentralized – Ethereum dApps are built on a decentralized blockchain, and any changes should be determined by the consensus of user votes.
- Incentivized – Users who act as validators of transactions on the blockchain should be provided incentives in the form of digital tokens for their activity.
- Protocol – The community of application developers and users must agree on the cryptographic algorithm used to show proof of value. In the case of Ethereum, this is currently Proof-of-Work (PoW).
Based on data collected by StateoftheDapps.com there are currently (June 5, 2019) 1,876 dApps built on the Ethereum blockchain. Competing site DappRadar.com lists just 1,503 Ethereum dApps, but either way, the universe of Ethereum dApps is growing rapidly considering there were roughly 400 dApps at the end of 2017 and 1,400 dApps at the end of 2018.
The Types of Ethereum dApps
While the categorization of dApps is broader, the Ethereum white paper has identified and defined three types of dApps:
dApps to Manage Money
This is the most common type of dApp and consists of an application that requires one user to pay Ether to settle a smart contract and receive some good, service or data.
dApps to Manage Money Involving Outside Information
This type of dApp requires payment in Ether, and also requires the input of some outside information. One good example of this is Augur and other prediction market dApps. In any prediction market, there will be an outside event and the outcome of that event is required to settle the contract.
dApps Managing Voting and Governance
When managing governance or voting most dApps make use of Decentralized Autonomous Organizations (DAOs). By doing so they can create truly decentralized apps with no reliance on a centralized board of leadership hierarchy. Rules regarding voting and consensus as well as the distribution of funds are all set when the DAO is initialized, and the dApps can then continue to run forever.
Top 10 Ethereum Dapps
With that background regarding the features and types of dApps, we can expect here is a listing of 8 excellent Ethereum dApps you can use right now. I’ve tried to give a good cross-section of types and categories, and most of these are popular dApps that have seen large user adoption rates already.
IDEX is a decentralized exchange and one of the most popular Ethereum dApps. It allows the user to easily trade Ethereum and other ERC-20 pairs.
The User interface of the Idex Marketplace
The IDEX exchange uses smart contracts to manage user transactions. It also allows users to purchase ICO tokens before they become listed on major exchanges. Often this means users can get these tokens for a discount. Because IDEX is a decentralized exchange it can charge fees as low as 0.1% for sellers and 0.2% for buyers.
IDEX has only been live since October 2018, but it already boasts more than 200,000 registered users. It’s the highest ranking Ethereum exchange dApp and has been for some time. It typically sees anywhere from 800-1000 daily users currently and is ranked around the 150th largest exchange overall according to CoinMarketCap.com.
My Crypto Heroes
This is the largest and most popular Ethereum dApp game currently, with over 2,500 users. After going live in September 2018 the game has seen steady growth, mostly from Japan.
My Crypto Heroes is a blockchain based casual RPG that can be played on both mobile devices or PCs. The game is like a digital employment agency for heroes, allowing you to collect and train various heroes drawn from history.
The MyCryptoHeros Ecosystem
The game will allow users to equip their heroes with special abilities and weapons, and because these items are all digital tokens they can even be resold. Of course, all the heroes are also saleable on the Ethereum network, which is why the game uses the catchphrase “Your time and passion will become asset”.
If you have plenty of time on your hands, love RPG games, and want to try to change that time into money then My Crypto Heroes might soon become your favorite Ethereum dApp too.
0xUniverse is another extremely popular Ethereum dApp. It is a space-faring simulation that allows players to find and collect blockchain based planets. These planets can also be colonized, and new resources can be found. Grow your civilization and they can build spaceships to explore the universe and find new planets. All of these planets, spaceships, and resources are collectible and can be traded, bought and sold within the dApp.
The game was launched in June 2018, and while it took some time to catch on it has now climbed to become one of the top 20 dApps with over 500 daily users playing the game.
Some of the planets to collect on 0x Universe
The game was developed with a finite number of planets, which means the value of planets should increase over time as more are discovered and less remain to be discovered. The game also includes specials in the form of alien artifacts that can be discovered.
Status is an extremely ambitious project that operates as an Ethereum light client node. Because of this is has been categorized as a wallet, but it is far more than that. It can be used to access any other dApp through a mobile browser. And it functions as a mobile operating system, making dApp development more accessible for everyone.
Screenshots of the Staus mobile app
The goal of Status is to make a better web, and they are providing the tools necessary for individuals to build anything needed to power that better web.
The project was launched back in February of 2016 and is one of the oldest dApps. While there were some questions regarding the longevity of the project, they have proven themselves and have made Status one of the top ten most popular Ethereum dApps. With growing adoption and usage it could be one of the big names in dApps in 2019.
Augur is a decentralized prediction market that allows users to create a market based on the outcome of any future event. This allows for wagering on the outcome of sporting events, elections, contests, and any event you can think of.
Augur User Interface on Platform
Because Augur uses crowdsourcing in its prediction model business can use it to forecast such things as future sales volumes, budgets for research projects, and completion times for projects. Crowdsourcing has been shown to be more accurate than even expert opinions.
In addition to being one of the most popular Ethereum dApps, Augur is in the top ten Ethereum dApps, it is also one of the oldest, having been released in August 2015.
Chainlink is a rapidly growing dApp that allows smart contracts to connect with external resources such as APIs or necessary off-chain data. It does this through a decentralized oracle network and maintains secure and reliable connections. Prior to Chainlink, it was extremely difficult for smart contracts to access off-chain data, which limited the scope of dApps. However with Chainlink smart contracts are able to connect to payments, events, and real-world data.
Overview of The Chainlink Ecosystem & Oracle
Chainlink is relatively new, having been launched in August 2018, but it is also growing rapidly, which isn’t surprising given the usefulness of a dApp that allows other dApps to connect to off-chain information.
Chainlink sees in excess of 250 daily users, and that number has been growing steadily. When you think of all the potential uses for blockchain oracles such as Chainlink it becomes clear that this could remain one of the top dApps for years to come.
This is an interesting Ethereum dApp that is looking to change the way that we hire freelancers. You can think of it as a decentralised version of a Upwork or Fiverr where those who are looking to hire a freelancer can post their job requirements.
Given that this is decentralised, there is no entity that will sit between those hiring and the freelancer. This means that there are no fees charged either on the employers side to list a job or on the freelancers side when they earn their commissions.
Image via Ethlance
Also, given that there is no one controlling the types of jobs that you can post, it is completely open and free. You can post an unlimited number that can be as broad as you define. All that is needed is for you to pay the Ethereum Gas fees that are associated with the posting.
In order to interact with this dApp, you will probably need to use an application such as Metamask. This will allow you to interact with the Ethereum blockchain. They have a helpful guide about listing jobs, paying for work and requesting work.
Ethlance is actually one of the first “districts” on the district0x network. This is a blockchain project that is trying to develop a collective of decentralised marketplaces and communities.
There are also a number of other dApps that are trying to relieve the pressures that freelancers face with using large centralised marketplaces. For example, there is Jobchain which is making it easier for employers to hire freelancers with cryptocurrencies and zero fees.
The Decentraland project is both ambitious and pretty unique among dApps. The team is building an open virtual world on the Ethereum blockchain that runs on open standards. In Decentraland users are able to create, experience and monetize new applications and content. And since it is based on property, even virtual property, it could become extremely valuable.
Some plots on sale on the Decentraland Network. Image via Decentraland
In addition to the uniqueness of creating a virtual world represented by digital tokens, Decentraland has the additional unique feature of being created by its users. That means creativity is unlimited and it can be highly rewarded for those who build items that are in high demand.
Users can also access the Decentraland Marketplace which is a fully decentralized and open market where you can discover, buy, sell, and manage your parcels of LAND.
Eventually, you will be able to explore the creations and lands in Decentraland using a VR headset. Interest in the project has been growing and average daily users have risen above 100.
You can’t have enough data storage, and Storj is a dApp that will make all the available excess storage capacity around the globe available. Not just hard drive storage, but also unused bandwidth will be accessible through Storj.
When Storj began in May 2017 most people doubted that they could take on the large centralized storage solutions such as Dropbox and Google’s cloud. Fast forward to June 2019 and it appears they are doing just that. While the project remains in alpha testing, it is expected to be able to get through beta and into production by the end of 2019. And as that nears, so too is interest increasing with Storj now seeing nearly 100 daily users.
Benefits of using Storj Decentralised Application
Not only can users pay to receive excess storage and bandwidth, but they can also offer their own storage and bandwidth to the network and get paid in STORJ tokens. When you consider that nearly everyone with a computer has spare storage space this could become a way to pay for the running costs of your PC.
I ran the income estimator on the Storj website and found that with a fiber internet connection (>200 Mbps upload and download) and 2TB of storage you could be making nearly $200/mo currently. Not bad for renting out something you aren’t using anyway.
This is another one of the gaming dApps that was wildly popular back in 2017. In fact, it was so popular that it actually led to a massive slow down in the Ethereum blockchain.
Essentially, CryptoKitties is a blockchain based game where you can breed, buy / sell and eventually hold onto a digital kittens on the Ethereum Blockchain. Given that these cannot be replicated and are immutably stored, they can make interesting collectibles. After all, these cats will never die (no need for 9 lives).
Cryptokitties can fetch a pretty impressive sum of crypto. You can head on over to their website right now and see the collection of kitties that are on sale. There are numerous assets that are listed for over 2,000 ETH.
Some of the pricey little Kitties on CryptoKitties
Whether these cryptokitties are worth it really does depend on where you see the crypto market moving as they will no doubt track it. Of course, if you have a particularly rare kitty it could be worth much more in a few years (and not just for novelty reasons).
Cryptokitties also spurred a whole host of other interesting crypto collectible replicas. These include the likes of Crypto Puppies and even crypto celebrities – that’s right. You can buy and collect celebrities on the Ethereum blockchain!
In the past two years, the number of dApps on the Ethereum blockchain has exploded by nearly 400%, despite the fact that cryptocurrencies, including Ethereum, remained in a bear market throughout most of 2018 and into early 2019.
As the ecosystem grows, and as Ethereum scales, the number of dApps is likely to explode. Because the blockchain and smart contracts can be used to create dApps around most anything that has a centralized application or infrastructure.
In the coming years that centralization will give way to a more transparent and free decentralized world, and when that happens dApps will be the norm rather than the exception.
Featured Image via Fotolia