iOS 9 content blocking will transform the mobile Web

“The next version of iOS comes with a major new feature called ‘content blockers’ which will allow users to install apps that block trackers, advertisements and other unwanted content for the first time,” Owen Williams reports for TNW. “Much has been written about the impending threat of ad blocking on iOS — it’s the first time blocking mobile advertisements en masse will be possible and publishers may face an existential threat. I’ve been skeptical about content blockers on iOS; I don’t block advertisements on desktop, since I find the browser to be fast enough for it to not be necessary. I do block trackers, because I worry about the information such networks are gathering on me.”

“Over the last few days I’ve been testing an experimental content blocker called Crystal, which promises to speed up browsing on iOS. I’ve been particularly impressed by the results and taken aback by how much removing trackers, ads and other scripts makes a difference over a cellular connection,” Williams reports. “Content blockers do more than just improve Safari’s general performance, they also affect the new iOS 9 web view, which can be used in many third-party apps, like Twitter and Facebook, making external links faster to load.”

“We still don’t know what Apple will actually permit on the App Store. It has remained tight-lipped about the policies it will implement for content blocking,” Williams reports. “As such apps can automatically update their list of what’s blocked outside of the App Store, it’ll be interesting to see if Apple will allow full-blown ad blockers like Crystal or only simpler tracking blockers such as Disconnect. It’s likely Apple will allow full-blown content blockers as it’s got skin in the game — it stands to directly benefit from hurting publishers. Blocking ads on the Web means it’ll force publishers toward the ‘News’ app which also happens to be included in iOS 9, where it’s not possible to block ads and Apple gets a cut of money made from advertising shown via its iAd network.”

Williams reports, “To test content blockers, I decided to pit Crystal — which is in a very early state of development — against major news sites online…”

Much more, including side-by-side gifs of site’s loading with and without the Crystal content blocker enabled here.

MacDailyNews Take: It’s no secret what’s going on: Ad-blockers have, are, and will be killing some websites. The online publishing biz is in a transitionary period. Some sites will make it, some will not. Apple News offers a possible lifeboat for publishers by allowing them to get paid for their work.

MacDailyNews will be participating in Apple News. iOS 9 beta users, search for “MacDailyNews” in Apple’s News app and add us to your Favorites! We hope News does well for Apple and for good publishers who are on the ropes or facing an uncertain future.

MacDailyNews is a independent website. We’re not owned by a large corporation. Without our advertisers, this site simply would not exist. As always, thank you so much for visiting and for your support. We really appreciate it.

Apple News shows that Apple wants to bolster and profit from ads, not eliminate them – July 10, 2015
Apple News to have human curation – and that raises issues – June 15, 2015
How Apple’s mobile ad-blocker could backfire on the company and iPhone, iPad users – June 12, 2015
Hats off to Web advertising – no, really – July 6, 2015
Apple’s support of mobile ad blocking may upend how the web works – June 12, 2015


  1. I just want a solution that keeps the app store from opening when I am on a website on mobile Safari…incredibly frustrating.
    If someone made an app that killed off that problem, I would pay for it.

      1. Laudable idea, but the sad truth is that not enough people will reach into their own pockets to pay to support even a website they love. The cynicism of Google and others who have allowed unlimited advertising – which only lines their own pockets and often doesn’t work even for those sucked into paying for the ads – will end up hurting not only themselves, but also a lot of legitimate sites like this.

    1. There are many Apple-centric websites that provide the exact same information. A culling would save a lot of time and would be welcomed. I’d vote for the site with the least amount of ads and the winner would wind up on my whitelist. So far I have three sites whitelisted and only one haas anything to do with Apple.

      BTW, ads are no burden if you use a computer and an ad blocker, I avoid the web on my iOS devices if at all possible and NEVER click on an ad if the site is not whitelisted on my computer.

      If I’m not on WiFi the additional bandwidth already costs me money which I find objectionable.

      1. “the additional bandwidth already costs me money which I find objectionable.”

        I know, right?

        Uninvited, unwanted advertising eating up data plans, taxing the hardware, and draining the battery.

        No thanks!

  2. Reasonable advertising for free access to content is an acceptable tradeoff for many people. There does need to be a weeding out of some of the worst sites in the mobile world that exist solely for the advertising they try every annoying way possible to get you go click on. Examples of bad practices: the one mentioned by iStepchild above – just wrong to land on a website and have it hijack you into the app store; the sites that don’t exist to convey stories, but rather are click-through traps – they do this by breaking their story up into tiny bits spread over dozens of pages, where the content you clicked on to read makes up maybe 5% of the page, the rest is advertisements – and, with the content broken up over so many pages, they do their best to hide the actual next button so you will click on a button that looks like a next button but takes you to an ad (that they get paid for clickthrough); some add another annoying step of actually having the page moving around a lot as all the ads and click-bait on the page is loading, so if you are done reading and want to move to the next page, the button is a moving target – you go to click on it and instead it changes right before you do and now you are in an ad. When I see a site made like this now I immediately leave it – I don’t care what the content is or how interested I may be in it. Reasonable advertising – yes. Blitzkrieg advertising and tracking – a BIG no – needs to go.

    1. I could not agree more. The current constantly increasing Ads pushed on pages has forced me to start using AdBlock and Ghostry. The issue is knowing when to disable them to allow good sites to get paid for the service they provide which often means good sites burn in the same manner as the bad sites.

  3. Web advertising has gotten totally out of hand. Advertisers show absolutely no restraint and have no sense of decency. They have brought on this situation all by themselves where consumers are so sick and tired of the endless flood of in-your-face advertising that they will do almost anything to stop the flood. I’m with them 100%. The fact that a site like MDN can’t operate without advertising doesn’t justify the obnoxious onslaught that visitors to too many sites are greeted with each and every day. It’s just too much!

  4. It is really creepy when ads pop up based on recent web inquiries I have made. Hate it. Plus, think about all the bandwidth the advertisers are pirating. Crazy.

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