back to article But ... but iOS 9 could BLOCK my Ad-Block, dev squeals

Apple appears to have added an ad-blocking capability to iOS 9, stoking hopes and fears in different quarters. The beta version of the operating system sports a Content Blocking Safari Extensions feature which Apple says will give extensions "a fast and efficient way to block cookies, images, resources, pop-ups, and other …

  1. Sealand
    Mushroom

    Another arms race in the making

    Expect the ad agencies to come up with "ingenious" new ways to bypass ad blockers and the like some time soon.

    I blacklist entire "gunslinging" domains using a hosts file on my computer.

    I'd like to be able to do that on the phone also. Much more efficient.

    http://winhelp2002.mvps.org/hosts.htm

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Meh

      Re: Another arms race in the making

      "Expect the ad agencies to come up with "ingenious" new ways to bypass ad blockers and the like some time soon"

      A 30% cut of revenue slung Apples way should sort that little issue.

    2. Ralph B

      Re: Another arms race in the making

      > Expect the ad agencies to come up with "ingenious" new ways to bypass ad blockers and the like some time soon.

      What about product placements in articles, whilst listening to the your latest Audible book, and in user forums, while your PC completes its backup with Carbonite? With Carbonite, whether it's business or personal, your data is there to stay.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Another arms race in the making

      Anyone know a way to force Win7 to read an update of the Hosts file without having to reboot each time?

      1. Lyndon Hills 1

        Re: Another arms race in the making

        c:\>ipconfig /flushdns maybe?

        Usually works for me anytime I edit and save the hosts anyway.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    This is great news...

    It's about time we had a decent way of blocking Ads on iOS Safari and I can see why Apple don't want to follow the usual browser extensions approach - allowing the running of arbitrary code in Safari would mean Apple would have to review all extensions, and plugin models usually equate to security and stability problems.

    Also good that Apple is providing a framework, so there's still room for 3rd parties to add value.

    Hopefully the Ad Blocker devs will find a way to work with this new API - their product has improved the browsing lives of millions.

    1. Kebablog

      Re: This is great news...

      It would be nice if that was available on the native install of Safari - for the moment Atomic Web browser is doing a decent job.

      1. Sebby

        Re: This is great news...

        The strategies for ad-blocking on iOS right now are: a completely custom browser that knows about ad blocking itself; a proxy-based or VPN-based approach where the filtering is done remotely on another machine (bad idea unless the machine belongs to yourself); a proxy-based or VPN-based approach with the filtering done locally by simply blocking access to hosts either with a profile or PAC (Webblock et al); or a block of hosts done outside the iOS device, on your own network using DNS. I choose the last option, using a number of excellent hosts files out there including Peter Lowe and MVPS, a script to download them, and Unbound to serve NXDOMAIN for any blocked host or domain.

        Notice that any solution based purely on host name has no capability to filter inline resources (no style or div blocking, no blocking of subresources by URL). The PAC or proxy method increases granularity to URLs but still causes gaps, and fails with HTTPS resources (which is the primary reason I think the DNS approach is the only credible one going forward).

        This API looks like the plug we've all been waiting for. It's going to be very interesting to see how Apple reconciles the obvious use for this extension point as an aid to ad-blocking with the apparent lack of other obvious uses for it. But I'm very happy they're including it. :)

  3. Dr Patrick J R Harkin

    "either the best possible landscape for Safari extensions, or the worst"

    So either it'll make things better or it'll make them worse.

    It's for seasoned analysis that this that I read El Reg...

    1. James 139

      Re: "either the best possible landscape for Safari extensions, or the worst"

      There are only 10 possible outcomes.

  4. Ralph B

    Owning the Means of Production

    If Apple controls the mechanism for blocking adverts, then they can ensure that their adverts don't get blocked unless they allow it.

    Then they can charge their advertisers premium rates for adverts that don't get blocked, or at least get blocked less often.

    At least with Apple there is a hope that these expensive and exclusive adverts will be better controlled for taste and trojans than most of what we meet on the web nowadays. Or at least we would meet if we weren't already using NoScript, AdBlockPlus, etc.

  5. D@v3

    i think i might have missed something

    As far as I am aware, there is no current mechanism on iOS to block ads in Safari. (Or that there are extensions in Safari at all, regardless of platform)

    So the statement

    "the feature could kill popular advertising blockers" which (at least to me) implies that people might stop using "popular advertising blockers" to use the Apple version instead, can not be accurate, as there are no "popular advertising blockers" on iOS (or Safari), at this time.

    You can't take business away from someone, if they have no business to start with.

    If there are 'popular advertising blockers' on iOS, could someone kindly point me towards one, as it would be quite nice to have. I have used our friend google, and only got links to this story (both here and elsewhere)

    1. Ralph B

      Re: i think i might have missed something

      There are apps that facilitate access to a http proxy which then blocks the ads in Safari. There are also ad-blocking alternatives to Safari which are also webkit based and are functionally (almost) identical to Safari.

      So, it's not quite true to say there is no ad-blocking business on iOS.

      (I see you wanted a link.)

      1. D@v3

        Re: i think i might have missed something

        thanks for the info

  6. Hankie

    Just use a VPN with built in ad blocking.... takes a couple of hours to setup on a VPS from scratch.

  7. W Donelson

    Primary intent: Google killer.

    I love Apple products, a lot (except Yosemite, ugh), but I am honest about Apple. They often are brutal and cutthroat.

  8. DougS Silver badge

    Really?

    And not "less sucky user experience?"

    Ads on mobile browsing have got out of hand recently, and since I hardly ever run Safari even if I used an alternate browser it wouldn't help. Assuming this blocking works when you visit a link in Facebook, etc. then this will help.

    It seems like in the past six months popover ads have become a plague in mobile, and in the last few weeks I'm even seeing ads that try to direct you to the app store (luckily iOS pops up a dialog and you can refuse to be sent to another app, so I'm not sure if the idiots realize that doesn't work)

  9. Federal

    NoScript on Firefox

    Browsing any other way is Russian Roulette. And even with NoScript, some risk remains and common sense is vital.

    But it's hugely helpful. The first few hours of whitelisting pages and scripts you trust to use JS are a little annoying, but after that it's barely noticeable. And it forces you to consider what you've actually gotten yourself into by clicking on that link.

    It basically makes the web a series of harmless, static pages, instead of a snake pit of interacting exploits.

  10. Peter Stone

    Ad block plus

    Oh you mean the guy/company mentioned in this article

    http://www.theregister.co.uk/2015/02/02/google_amazon_taboola_microsoft_adplock_plus_unblock/

    no wonder he's worried, all that potentially lost revenue

  11. x 7

    precis of article

    "We don't know what this change does or how it works, but lets raise a panic anyway to generate some traffic"

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