Adblock Plus beats Apple to the punch on mobile ad blocking

Adblock Plus co-founder Till Faida
Adblock Plus co-founder Till Faida

Ahead of an anticipated browser release from Apple, Adblock Plus releases its own browser that blocks ads on a wider range of iPhones and iPads

Adblock Plus has launched a browser for Apple devices that can block display ads, pop-ups and trackers.

The launch steals thunder from Apple, which is due to update its own Safari browser to enable ad blocking on iPhones and iPads.  

The iOS 9 update is due to launch this month, and is predicted to take ad blocking on mobile mainstream. Apple will allow developers to build content-blocking extensions for the Safari browser, with thousands of users already signing up for beta versions of new apps.

Read more: Apple's iOS 9 forces a dramatic rethink for mobile marketing

One hurdle with Apple’s update is that the new content-blocking extensions are only compatible with 64-bit devices, meaning iPhone 5 and iPhone 5C users can’t block ads on mobile.

Adblock Browser claims to be compatible with the iPhone 5, and it only requires iOS 8, rather than the updated iOS 9 to work. But a key disadvantage is that it’s likely to be slower than Safari’s content blocker extensions because of the way it processes what items to block.

Adblock Browser is built on an existing "extensible browser" for iOS, called Kitt, and is already available on Apple’s App Store. Adblock Plus’ owner, Eyeo, partnered with software firm Salsita to create the new browser.

Matt Gartner, CEO of Salsita, wrote: "We have been working for several months with Eyeo to create a fully-fledged ad blocking browser, based on Kitt, that goes far beyond the capabilities of Safari's new content blocking extensions."

The new browser promises to block the majority of ads, trackers and "malvertising" — the injection of ads containing malware into legitimate ad networks.

Adblock Plus also announced that Google has lifted a two-year ban on its service on the Play Store, meaning the Adblock Browser is now available for Android phones. It isn’t clear why Google has reversed its decision, and Adblock Plus has yet to respond to a request for clarification.

This article first appeared on

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