MetaMask is a bridge used to connect people to Ethereum distributed applications (dApps). Without going too deep into the technical details, the dApp is an application that uses a peer-to-peer network to run the back-end code instead of a centralized server – this effectively makes the dApp immune to censorship or hacking. Metamask can be downloaded as an extension on most of the popular browsers (Brave, Chrome, Firefox). From there, you will most likely start out by using it as an Ethereum wallet and identity management service. As long as you have your private key saved somewhere, you can restore the wallet from anywhere in the world. The safest way to store your cryptocurrency is a cold-wallet or a hardware wallet so please do your research. Only keep what you can afford to lose in a wallet that is connected to the internet. This is a very well known extension so the risk is minimal when you keep a small fraction of your funds stored in the Metamask wallet.
The effects that this will have on the internet is not well understood, but we are beginning to see a lot of interesting projects come to light using the Ethereum blockchain. Take a look at State of the Dapps to get a better idea of the projects currently being worked on. There are projects as grand as starting a tamper-proof, digital democracy using the blockchain. Others are less ambitious, such as CryptoKitties which is one of the most popular dApps today. We are also seeing distributed exchanges (DEX) starting to come online, using automation and peer-to-peer transfers allows for safer and faster transactions. Two other interesting projects are Vevua and WeiFund. Metamask is one of the more intuitive programs that can be used when first being introduced to the cryptoworld, which is exactly what we need more of if this is going mainstream. As an incentive to play around, the first 10 people to post their Metamask Ethereum address in the comment section below will get the equivalent of $2 USD in Ethereum.