Software developer: Apple’s iOS is adware

Apple’s iOS is adware, software developer Steve Streza writes on his blog, along with copious expository screenshots.

Apple’s Services business is quickly becoming gigantic, raking in $12.7 billion in Q1 2020 alone, nearly a sixth of Apple’s already mind-boggling quarterly revenue.

iOS is adware. Image: Apple Music ad
Apple Music ad
Steve Streza, eponymously:

All that money comes from the wallets of 480 million subscribers, and their goal is to grow that number to 600 million this year. But to do that, Apple has resorted to insidious tactics to get those people: ads. Lots and lots of ads, on devices that you pay for. iOS 13 has an abundance of ads from Apple marketing Apple services, from the moment you set it up and all throughout the experience. These ads cannot be hidden through the iOS content blocker extension system. Some can be dismissed or hidden, but most cannot, and are purposefully designed into core apps like Music and the App Store. There’s a term to describe software that has lots of unremovable ads: adware, which what iOS has sadly become.

If you don’t subscribe to these services, you’ll be forced to look at these ads constantly, either in the apps you use or the push notifications they have turned on by default. The pervasiveness of ads in iOS is a topic largely unexplored, perhaps due to these services having a lot of adoption among the early adopter crowd that tends to discuss Apple and their design. This isn’t a value call on the services themselves, but a look at how aggressively Apple pushes you to pay for them, and how that growth-hack-style design comes at the expense of the user experience. In this post, I’ll break down all of the places in iOS that I’ve found that have Apple-manufactured ads. You can replicate these results yourself by doing a factory reset of an iPhone (backup first!), installing iOS 13, and signing up for a new iCloud account.

MacDailyNews Take: Since we cover Apple, we’re subscribed to everything, so we don’t get hit with these ads. For those who don’t subscribe to Apple Music, Apple TV+, Apple Card, Apple Arcade, etc. is the user experience of iOS bothersome to you with ads constantly pestering you to subscribe to Apple services?


  1. Nope.

    I don’t have: Apple Music, Apple Arcade.

    I do have: iCloud, Apple TV+ (free for a year), Apple Card

    Apple Music service occasionally bothers me, but only when I click on the wrong selection within my music library. Of course, Apple designs that link to be confusing and for the user to click on it no doubt about it – which IS annoying.

    If most of the ads are during setup, that’s no so much of a bother.

    Here’s a thought: If you don’t use ANY Apple services, and are not taking advance of the HW+SW platform, when then are you even using an iPhone?…

    1. I uses iPhones (multiple for different purposes) because of the user interface and the convenience of interoperability with my other Apple items (laptop, desktop, tablet, etc.). I do not use an iPhone to use Apple’s services.

      1. I’d prefer never to see an Apple Arcade ad for starters, but far worse than that in my view is the revised iTunes/Apple TV. I used to like it, now I have come to hate it. The tabs for “movies” and “watch now” are littered with crap from Apple TV services I do not wish to subscribe to and the ability to find content to buy has been made much more difficult. It’s insanely frustrating to the point I debate whether to drop all my Apple services entirely.

        I agree with the premise of the story….Apple has injected the most insidious type of Adware throughout its online products which is discouraging because the avoidance of ads was one of the draws of owning Apple devices.

  2. Adware…maybe not, annoying…could be. Every company promotes itself and promoting yourself within your apps on your platform should not be a surprise and should be expected. Apple doe not generating revenue for ad placement nor for pay-per-click, which traditionally is part of the definition for adware and they’re not letting 3rd parties place ads on the interface. I think Steve Streza has an anti-Apple agenda problem or simply doesn’t understand adware as well as he things he does. It would be nice if Apple simply added a toggle switch in settings or at the end of the setup that disabled any future advertising within your apps/device…this would nix the whole concern. Thankfully, Apple’s ads are tastefully done.

  3. I do not have Apple Music or Apple Arcade. I do have AppleTV+, iTunes Match, Apple Card, and iCloud. I am not aware of getting any ads. I can’t even imagine what he is talking about. Where is he seeing ads?

    And regarding “push notifications”, turn them off. Duh!
    Learn to work your phone instead of whining at it.

  4. Does that person even know what adware is?
    Never seen an Apple ad on a new device.
    Questions for some extra Apple services? Once during setup, but that is a very far cry from adware.

  5. I recently got a new iPhone 11, my 4th iPhone. Unfortunately and unhappily, I must agree. It seems to me that iOS has become adware. I am bombarded with apps and messages, even on this website, by ads, ads, ads, ads, ads, etc.

    Too bad. It makes me want to get rid of my iPhone, and I’m tempted to get rid of my Mac. And, my wife — who owns many multiple shares of Apple stock — keeps complaining to me that her new iPad has become an ad machine too. She cannot find a Calculator without ads. The iPad used to have an Apple Calculator. What happened to it? Screw the customer with “In-App Purchases,”

    Is there a good OS on which there is little or no adware?

    Tim Cook, you’re a worthless CEO! You are NOT protecting us customers, but turning us into consumers who view way too many ads, ads, ads, SPAM, SPAM, SPAM. You are more interested in posting your personal political views — about which I couldn’t care less — than being a GOOD CEO. You are a HORRIBLE CEO of Apple. We need a BETTER CEO. How about getting us out of China altogether. You are too easy on the Communist Chines leaders, and not a patriotic American, but another left-wing useful idiot. Learn who Walter Duranty and Armand Hammer were. You’re just another one of these fools.

    Stand up for the United States of America, and stop cowering to the Communist Chinese. And begin thinking about your fellow Americans, rather than the Communist Chinese.

    Better yet, Apple needs to revamp their Board of Directors and get some patriotic Americans on the board. Get rid of Al “The Sky Is Falling” Gore; get rid of Tim “I love the Communist Chinese” Cook. Let’s turn Apple into an AMERICAN company … not just legally, but culturally.

    Let’s be Proud Americans, instead of ashamed “excrement on the streets” San Franciscans.

    Tim Cook, take your excrement off the streets, and give us a BETTER product!

    1. Da, Comrade! All these websites and app developers are capitalist enemies of the People who disagree with the Party slogan, “From each according to his skill and to each in accordance with his needs.” They seem to think that honest landlords want rent and honest grocers require payment. No, in the People’s state, the skilled professionals who develop iOS programs can give them away for free without ads or in-app purchases and someone will reward their generosity by giving them and their families free housing, food, and medical services while forgiving their student loans.

      If that isn’t your business model, please explain it.

    2. Delta nick – the iPad NEVER had a calculator. With all those Apple shares, you could afford to buy one, eh?

      Also MDN ads are nothing to do with Apple!

      Yours is a very uneducated comment

  6. Weak. You can dismiss most of this stuff in your settings. Sounds like someone doesn’t know how to set up a phone. I fail to understand how this is Apple’s fault. It is also a far cry from ‘adware’, what a maroon.

  7. I must be an exception to the rule. I don’t subscribe to any Apple service at all. I don’t see ads under iOS 13.x. I honestly cannot remember the last ad in an Apple device that I could attribute directly to Apple targeting me as an Apple equipment users.

  8. Hardly noticed. I don’t use Apple Arcade and have seen ads with some games. But hardly pervasive.
    To be honest I think the author is click baiting. That’s just as bad or worse than Apple telling customers about their services on their own devices.

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