The use of software that blocks ads on websites is on a rapid rise. According to a study last year by PageFair and Adobe, some 144 million people used the software monthly, up almost 70% from the year before. But so far, those ads are getting blocked almost exclusively on computers, not on mobile phones. That’s about to change. This week, the maker of the most popular ad blocking software, Adblock Plus, is releasing a first crack at a mobile web browser that automatically blocks annoying ads.
The full web browser will be available in beta test mode, with a full launch in July or August, according to Ben Williams, communications director for Cologne-based AdBlock Plus creator Eyeo. It will be available for Android phones on Google's Play Store. A version for the iPhone will follow, though Williams didn’t provide timing for when it would come to the App Store.
Until now, smartphone users who wanted to block ads didn’t have much choice. Two years ago, Google banned Adblock’s browser extension for Firefox, the only mobile browser it worked on, from its app store for violating a rule against an app that interferes with other apps’ features (in this case, apps that need ads to fund their development). Since then, the only option has been to "slide load" Adblock Plus directly from its site–a rather cumbersome process that relatively few people have bothered to do.
By offering a complete browser that is set by default to block annoying ads, or all ads if you choose, Eyeo avoids violating Google rules. The browser works like Firefox, on whose software code it’s based, though you can’t enable add-ons or sync with your desktop Firefox browser. Still, it’s a way to bring an easier ad-blocking method to Android devices. “This is our first chance to do a complete mobile solution,” says Williams.
The makers of Adblock Plus looked at other ways to block ads, such as at the network level–for instance, a carrier could offer the option to block ads. But that’s fraught with net neutrality issues, Williams says, and in fact a recent report of the possibility of a company called Shine enabling this sparked a lot of controversy.
The browser isn’t set by default to block all ads, just annoying ones–that is, those that violate the company’s criteria for acceptable ads, such as interrupting the flow of reading, blinking, popping over or under the browser window, and the like. So search ads and those that stay to the side of what readers want to see are “whitelisted” and continue to run. But as with Adblock Plus, you can also set the browser to block all ads if you want. Perhaps it goes without saying, but the browser will block ads only on the Web, not inside apps, where people spend much of their time on mobile devices.
Will most people go to the trouble of installing a new browser on their smartphone just to block ads? Probably not, but there’s evidence that some people are willing to make the effort. According to the PageFair-Adobe report, the share of ads blocked by browsers that users themselves installed is almost five times higher than by pre-installed browsers.
Read more at: http://www.forbes.com/sites/roberthof/2015/05/20/adblock-plus-debuts-mobile-browser-that-kills-annoying-ads-automatically/