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iOS 9: Apple allows ad blocking in updated mobile Safari browser

By Liu Hongzuo - 10 Sep 2015

iOS 9: Apple allows ad blocking in updated mobile Safari browser

Remember the slew of new features announced at the June 2015 announcement of iOS 9? Well, ad blockicg extensions is on Safar is one of them.

Apple will be allowing their iPhone and iPad users to block advertisements when surfing the web via their proprietary Safari web browser. This is likely to happen together with the official release of iOS 9, as Apple has previously indicated that it will be adding ad-blocking functionalities via the iOS 9 firmware update, much to the dismay of online advertisers, including Google.

According to BBC, the browser add-ons can be set to block certain content from downloading, such as cookies, images, and pop-ups. The add-ons can be found via the App Store, like any other iOS-compatible app. As a result, Apple device users will most likely enjoy less content clutter, and reduced mobile data consumption. Devices like iPhones and iPads will also last longer between charges, due to reduced web loading strain.

Ad-blocking compatibility is new to the mobile version of Safari, but it’s not the first to do so. Even before iOS 9, Adblock Plus launched a beta version of their very own Adblock Browser on both iOS and Android. Today, the Adblock Browser got the drop on Apple, and it is now officially live, with the full version available to iOS 8 and Android users free of charge. Since mid-August, Android users also got access to the updated developer version of the Mozilla Firefox mobile web browser, which incorporated a brand new "Do Not Track" feature hardwired into the beta browser, resulting in more effective ad-blocking.

Adblock's proprietary web browser app, just available on both iOS and Android via their respective app stores.

Previously, ad blocking on mobile required jailbreaking the iPhone, which in turn puts the device at risk of bricking (losing all functionality) and malware attacks. Now, ad-blocking on iOS devices is accessible to the mainstream Apple user. This has left many online publishers and advertisers salty, with claims by online publishers not seeing enough mobile ad revenue.

According to Apple engineer Benjamin Poulain, via the Safari developer blog, Safari’s ad-blocking compatibility is in line with Apple’s concern for user privacy.

"We have been building these features with a focus on providing better control over privacy," said Benjamin. "We wanted to enable better privacy filters, and that is what has been driving the feature set that exists today."

The new News app by Apple, available in iOS 9, allows curated content from selective publishers (and possibly ad revenue options in a controlled fashion).

Another viable perspective would revolve around Apple’s ability to drive potential online ad revenue into their coffers. Going by the June 2015 announcement Apple has made, iOS 9 will see a new proprietary app known as News. This app can display articles from any web link, and it will also curate online news content based on the user’s reading preferences. Content that is compatible with the app will support animation, as well as full-bleed images. Apple has also partnered with a number of news organizations to provide content for the new app, such as CNN, Time, Wired, and ESPN.

Apple Music via iTunes - the ideal revenue model for Apple to model their other efforts?

By observing Apple’s efforts, it is safe to assume that the new format of online publishing would regulate online content and online advertising, and eventually lead to ad revenue profits that benefit Apple and their partnered publishers. One example would be Apple Music: while the revenue model is different (as Apple Music subscribers pay for the service), Apple gets to regulate revenue between music labels, and themselves, while controlling the delivery of musical content. Approximately 70 percent of Apple Music’s revenue will be paid to music labels, but we are also sure that the deal for editorial publishers will not be as sweet, since Apple has limited advertising opportunities strictly to their own apps, with Safari now being capable of cutting out unwelcomed advertisers.

Meanwhile, this writer ponders if his job would be at stake since the majority of all online estates rely on online advertising as the primary mode of sustenance.

Source: BBC, Re/Code, VentureBeat, Wall Street Journal

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