The earliest version of the internet is often referred to as web 1.0. At the time it was a groundbreaking technology, web pages joined by hyperlinks. As the technology spread, users demanded more from the internet, allowing it to grow and evolve into what we have today.
The internet is now in its second generation, web 2, characterized by better visuals, greater collaboration, and interaction between users while building toward web 3, an even more decentralized web that integrates more advanced technologies such as artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things, and distributed ledger technology, otherwise known as a blockchain.
The internet has left the shores of web 2 but is still yet to arrive at web 3, leaving us in a transitionary period, web 2.5. Hence, web 2.5 shows a gradual shift toward more advanced technologies and features, but not full integration.
Already, projects are integrating AI algorithms, more advanced personalization features, and cloud computing into their apps, features of web 3, making them web 2.5 apps. But, how are they implementing these features into real-world apps that we use every day? Let's find out.
Top Features of Web 2.5 Apps
The next generation of the internet is said to consist of three layers: Decentralised Applications (DApps), Smart Contracts, and Blockchains. As we transition into that future, elements of the internet are now controlled by Decentralised Autonomous Organisations (DAOs). These are analogs of family and community businesses without hierarchical structures and bureaucracy.
All decisions are made collectively by community and project participants, and the contribution of contributors is reflected within its ecosystem. Real apps are already using Web 2.5 in various ways. Here are some examples:
Many social media platforms and e-commerce are using Web 2.5 to provide personalized recommendations to their users based on their browsing and purchasing history. These recommendations are generated using AI and ML (Machine Learning) algorithms that analyze user data to suggest products, services, or content that may be of interest to them.
Web 2.5 technologies such as blockchain are being used to enhance the security of web applications. Blockchain technology can provide secure and transparent record-keeping, making it ideal for applications that require high levels of security, such as financial transactions.
Chatbots are becoming increasingly common on websites and social media platforms. These bots use natural language processing (NLP) and AI to communicate with users and provide assistance. They can answer frequently asked questions, help with product recommendations, and even complete transactions.
- Smart Contracts
Web 2.5 is being used to develop smart contracts, which are self-executing contracts with the terms of the agreement between buyer and seller being directly written into lines of code. This technology has the potential to revolutionize industries such as supply chain management, decentralized crowdfunding, real estate, and insurance.
- Virtual and Augmented Reality
Web 2.5 is also being used to create immersive virtual and augmented reality experiences. These experiences are becoming increasingly popular in fields such as gaming, education, and marketing.
How are Real Apps Using Web 2.5?
Centralized exchanges, front-end NFT marketplaces, and custodial wallets are all examples of apps following the Web 2.5 model, which combines the features of both Web 2.0 and Web 3.0 technologies. Moreover, there is a clamor for decentralized social media platforms and decentralized gaming platforms.
Hence, some web 2.0 social media and gaming platforms are emerging that embrace a Web 2.5 model by adopting Web 3.0 technologies. We shall look at centralized exchanges, front-end NFT marketplaces, custodial wallets, streaming applications, social media, and gaming platforms that fall in the web 2.5 categories.
Centralized exchanges are Web 2.5 platforms because they provide a user-friendly interface for buying, selling, and trading cryptocurrencies and other digital assets. These exchanges are centralized in nature, which means that they have a central authority that manages the exchange's operations and holds custody of users' assets.
However, some centralized exchanges are incorporating Web 3.0 technologies like decentralized identity and cross-chain interoperability to enhance their functionality. Examples of such exchanges include Binance, Coinbase, Kraken, etc.
For instance, Coinbase has been working on integrating cross-chain interoperability features to enable seamless trading across different blockchains.
OpenSea: OpenSea is one of the largest decentralized marketplaces for NFTs. OpenSea operates on a decentralized infrastructure, which means that it is not controlled or owned by any single entity. Instead, it runs on a network of computers that work together to ensure that the platform is secure, transparent, and censorship-resistant.
Also, OpenSea uses smart contracts to facilitate transactions between buyers and sellers. Smart contracts are self-executing contracts with the terms of the agreement between buyer and seller being directly written into lines of code
Rarible: Rarible is an NFT marketplace that allows creators to mint, buy, and sell NFTs. It is built on the Ethereum blockchain, which allows for secure and transparent transactions of digital assets. Users can create and sell NFTs for a variety of digital content, such as art, music, and videos, and interact with other users through likes, comments, and shares.
Other examples of such decentralized NFT marketplaces include Foundation, Nifty Gateway, SuperRare, etc.
Custodial wallets are Web 2.5 platforms because they provide a user-friendly interface for managing and storing digital assets. These wallets are typically centralized in nature, with a central authority that manages the wallet's operations and holds custody of users' assets.
Some custodial wallets are incorporating Web 3.0 technologies like multi-signature authentication and decentralized identity management to enhance their security. Examples of such wallets include Coinbase Wallet and Trust Wallet.
For instance, Coinbase Wallet uses strong security measures like two-factor authentication and biometric authentication to protect users' funds. Additionally, Trust Wallet supports decentralized applications (dApps) on the Ethereum blockchain, which allows users to interact with a variety of decentralized services using their wallet.
Social Media Platforms
Currently, social media apps are leveraging blockchain technology or decentralization to provide users with greater control over their digital assets, enhanced security, and transparency.
They also offer new opportunities for content creators to monetize their work through the use of NFTs and cryptocurrency. Examples of such platforms using Web 2.5 include:
Steemit: Steemit is a decentralized social media platform that allows users to earn cryptocurrency for creating and curating content. It is built on the Steem blockchain, which allows for fast and secure transactions. Users can earn Steem tokens by posting and upvoting content, and can also take in events and community discussions.
Minds: Minds is another decentralized social networking platform that prioritizes user privacy and free speech. It is built on the Ethereum blockchain and allows users to earn tokens for creating and sharing content. Minds also use a decentralized infrastructure to ensure that user data is not collected or sold to third parties.
Voice: Voice is a social media platform built on the EOS blockchain, which aims to provide transparency and authenticity in social media. It requires users to verify their identities to prevent fake accounts and bot activity. Voice also rewards users with Voice Tokens for creating and engaging with content.
LBRY: LBRY is a decentralized content-sharing platform that allows users to publish, share, and sell digital content without the need for a centralized authority. It adopts some blockchain technology use cases to ensure that content creators retain control of their work and can earn cryptocurrency for their content.
Twitter: Twitter is a microblogging platform that allows users to post short messages, called tweets, and follow other users. It incorporates Web 2.0 technologies such as user-generated content, social connections, and real-time updates.
The platform has launched a pilot program that allows users to verify their Twitter accounts using a decentralized identity (DID) protocol called Ethereum Name Service (ENS). Twitter has also started exploring the use of non-fungible tokens (NFTs) for verifying the authenticity of tweets and other digital content on the platform. Users can already use NFTs as profile pictures.
Instagram: the popular photo and video-sharing app that has started exploring Web3 technology by allowing users to upload NFTs. Instagram users will soon be able to create, show and sell NFTs. The feature allows creators to sell NFTs on the platform, which can be used to verify the authenticity and ownership of digital content. Instagram has also launched a pilot program that allows users to earn rewards in the form of cryptocurrency for creating and sharing content on the platform.
Telegram: Telegram is a messaging app that has recently embraced a Web 2.5 model by exploring Web technology to allow users to send and receive digital assets using a cryptocurrency wallet, Toncoin. The popular messaging app Telegram has also discarded its compulsory sign-up requirement of a mobile phone number, announcing that users can now sign up with blockchain-powered anonymous numbers. Telegram have several times announced it intends to launch decentralized crypto products. These products include a decentralized crypto exchange and a non-custodial wallet.
Gaming platforms now follow a Web 2.5 model by using blockchain technology to ensure that the ownership of digital assets is secure and transparent. The goal of these games is to offer the features of Web3, such as decentralized finance, asset ownership, and staking, within a familiar environment to make gamers feel more at ease with concepts like signing transactions and adhering to best practices for safeguarding private keys.
This approach could potentially serve as a smooth transition towards a complete non-custodial experience. Examples of such games are:
Axie Infinity: This is a blockchain-based game that allows players to collect, breed, and battle creatures called Axies. Each Axie is an NFT, which means that players can own and trade their Axies as digital assets. Axie Infinity also allows players to earn cryptocurrency by playing the game and winning battles
Gods Unchained: this is a blockchain-based collectible card game that allows players to own and trade their cards as NFTs. Each card is a unique digital asset with its own attributes and abilities.
Decentraland: this is a blockchain-based virtual world where players can buy and sell virtual land as NFTs. They can also build and customize their own virtual spaces and monetize them through various means, such as hosting events or selling virtual goods.
The Sandbox: The Sandbox is a blockchain-based virtual world that uses web2.5 technologies. The game's mechanics and economy are built using smart contracts and NFTs on the Ethereum blockchain. In the Sandbox, players can buy and sell virtual land, as well as create and trade non-fungible assets such as virtual items and avatars. The game is designed to be user-generated, meaning that players can create and publish their own content and experiences within the game.
Other examples of such games include My Crypto Heroes, CryptoKitties, ChainGuardian, etc.
Netflix: Netflix is an online streaming service that combines user-generated content (e.g. ratings, watch history, and viewing habits) with machine learning algorithms to provide personalized recommendations to users. It also uses natural language processing (NLP) to help users find content by enabling voice search and chatbots.
Spotify: Spotify is a music streaming service that combines user-generated content (e.g. playlists, listening history, and preferences) with machine learning algorithms to provide personalized music recommendations to users. It also uses NLP to help users find content by enabling voice search and chatbots.
Predictions for the Nearest Future
As Web 2.5 technologies continue to evolve, we can expect real apps to become even more personalized, privacy-focused, and integrated with emerging technologies. They may also continue to prioritize social interaction and seamless integration with other apps and platforms to provide a more comprehensive user experience.
Greater Focus on Privacy
With increasing concerns around data privacy, real apps may start incorporating features that prioritize user privacy and data protection. This could include decentralized storage, end-to-end encryption, and the ability for users to control their own data and limit third-party access.
Increased User Personalization
As Web 2.5 technologies continue to evolve, we can expect real apps to become even more personalized and tailored to the needs of individual users. This could include the use of machine learning algorithms to recommend content or products based on a user's browsing history, preferences, and behavior.
Integration with Emerging Technologies
As new technologies such as AR, VR, and the IoT continue to gain momentum, we can expect real apps to start incorporating these technologies to enhance the user experience. For example, a shopping app might use augmented reality to allow users to "try on" clothes virtually, (Walmart and Amazon already have this feature) or a home automation app might use the IoT to control smart devices throughout a house.
Greater Emphasis on Social Interaction
With the success of social media platforms, we can expect real apps to continue to incorporate social interaction features, such as the ability to share content, connect with friends, and join online communities. This could include the integration of messaging apps, video conferencing, and real-time collaboration tools.
Enhanced Data Security
Web 2.0 apps may start incorporating blockchain-based technology to enhance data security and protect user privacy. This could include the use of encrypted data storage, decentralized authentication systems, and other security measures that provide greater control and ownership of user data.
Seamless Integration with Existing platforms
Real apps may start incorporating features that allow for more seamless integration with other apps and platforms and more cross-chain solutions. For example, a fitness app might integrate with a nutrition-tracking app to provide a more comprehensive health-tracking experience, or a travel app might integrate with a hotel booking platform to make it easier to plan and book a trip.
Digital Ownership of Content
With the rise of NFTs, Web 2.0 apps may start incorporating this technology to allow users to claim ownership of their digital content, such as videos, images, and other media. This could enable users to monetize their content and receive payments directly, without the need for intermediaries. Facebook and Instagram are already working in this direction.
Decentralized Social Media Platforms
Web 2.5 social media apps may start incorporating decentralized infrastructure to allow for greater user control and ownership of data. This could enable users to share content, connect with friends and followers, and monetize their content without relying on a centralized platform.
Blockchain-based Reward Systems
Web 2.5 apps may start incorporating blockchain-based reward systems to incentivize user participation and engagement. This could include the use of tokens or other digital assets that users can earn through activities such as posting content, commenting, or sharing.
A Shift Towards Decentralized Finance
Web 2.0 apps may start incorporating DeFi protocols to enable users to access financial services such as lending, borrowing, trading, and tokenization without the need for traditional financial intermediaries. This could provide greater financial inclusion and access to capital for individuals who may not have access to traditional financial services.
More Web 2.0 apps will transition to Web 2.5 by integrating NFTs, blockchain technology, and decentralization in various ways in the near future. These technologies could enable greater user control and ownership of content and data, as well as incentivize user participation and engagement through reward systems.
Lastly, the use of DeFi, blockchain technology, digital identity management, and enhanced data security measures could provide greater financial inclusion and data protection for users.