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. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. I’m very much anti-subscriptions.

    The only things that really annoy me are (1) the constant reminders that I haven’t backed up my iPhone and to subscribe to more iCloud storage and (2) clicking on a story in News app only to find it requires a subscription to read.

    I understand the News app thing and can live with it, but the nagging to get me to get more iCloud storage is really annoying and we should be given an option to disable that.

  5. Well, I do resent the constant red flag reminder within my settings app icon to upgrade to Apple Pay; the slow redirect of iTunes to the iTunes store; and dead end routes to Apple Music; all of which I have little interest in and which represent grit within an otherwise generally smooth OSs. It is indicative of marketing over design within Apple Corp.

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