Opera has revealed new plans to integrate the Ethereum Name Service (ENS) with its popular web browser. Although the news has not been officially confirmed, Opera’s Charles Hamel has presented the plan at the ongoing EthCC conference. ENS itself has also acknowledged the news on Twitter:
— Ethereum Name Service (@ensdomains) March 5, 2019
What Is ENS?
The Ethereum Name Service basically allows Ethereum addresses to be represented as human-readable domain names. In their natural state, Ethereum addresses are long strings of text that are hard to read and impossible to memorize. Meanwhile, an ENS address might look something like ethereum.eth.
These addresses have many applications, but they mainly allow funds to be sent to a recipient as easily as an email. With a compatible wallet, such as MyEtherWallet, you can simply enter someone’s ENS address, and the wallet will direct your transaction to the correct destination.
ENS addresses are optional but have been available for some time now. Incidentally, ENS developers have just announced the addition of 1300 standard TLDs (such as .org) which will probably provide more mainstream appeal—although perhaps not enough appeal to overshadow the barriers of the registration process.
In addition to acting as addresses that funds can be sent to, ENS domains can also be used as links to dApps and decentralized websites. This approach provides some benefits, like protection against phishing. Of course, browsers like Opera need to support this, or users won’t be able to access those sites.
One browser actually supports the standard already: Brave includes Metamask as an optional plugin, and it is capable of resolving ENS addresses, as seen here. It is not clear exactly how Opera will add support for ENS, but it seems likely that the end result will be very similar.
The tweet at the top of this article also suggests that Opera will support IPFS, a decentralized hosting method that can be used in conjunction with ENS. IPFS faces a related dilemma: Accessing its content is not very straightforward. Fortunately, user-friendly browsers can help by supporting the standard.
Opera and Cryptocurrency
Opera has demonstrated its enthusiasm for Ethereum in the past by adding a crypto wallet to its mobile browser. The company’s support for crypto doesn’t end there: Following an initiative in September, Opera rolled out a version of its browser with full dApp support at the end of last year.
This makes Opera one of the most crypto-friendly browsers available, and support for Ethereum’s ENS naming scheme will help bring an otherwise niche feature to the general public. Brave, as noted above, has undertaken similar efforts, and together the two could cause decentralized technology to trickle up to mainstream browsers.