Block ads on an iPhone or iPad
If ads are getting in your way while browsing online you can always use an ad blocker on your iPhone or iPad. Martyn Casserly shows how
Ads are a staple fixture of the internet. They are how creators of content get paid and, while they can be annoying, remain an important part of the modern online economy. That being said, if you find the constant barrage of consumerism too much then it’s actually easy to block them when using Safari on your iPhone or iPad.
Install an Ad Block app
The way ad blockers work is through Safari extensions. This feature has been around for a while now and isn’t solely restricted to ads. There are a number of useful add-ons available that can help simplify your browsing experience.
To set up an ad-blocker you’ll first need to acquire one from the App Store. You’ll find plenty of options, but our favourites are the free AdBlock Plus (tinyurl.com/mjh638k), Crystal Adblock (tinyurl.com/mywdz36), which will set you back the princely sum of 79p, or the Better by Ind.ie (tinyurl.com/Lo23ekb), which costs £4.99 but is very good. For this tutorial we’ve opted for Crystal, but the instructions will be identical for any ad blocker.
Download the app and open it to walk through the very basic tutorial. There isn’t much in the way of settings, but the main page has two options: Acceptable Ads and Whitelist. The former will permit ads that the app deems ‘non-intrusive’. This is a good setting to leave on as it means websites will still be able to generate revenue from your visits but you won’t be bombarded with pop-ups, screen takeovers, or other unpleasant marketing disasters.
Whitelist is a way to add your favourite sites so they are exempt from ad blocking. Why would you do this? Well, your favourite sites won’t be around much longer if the writers and video creators have to work for free. So allowing ads is a way to support those who make the content you enjoy at no cost to yourself. To add sites to the Whitelist, tap the option at the bottom of the screen and enter the URL.
Enabling the ad-blocker in Safari
For the ad blocker to actually work in Safari you’re going to have to enable the extension. To do this, go to Settings
> Safari > Content Blockers. You might be surprised to find this setting as it doesn’t actually appear until you’ve downloaded an ad-blocker.
Inside Content Blockers you’ll see a list of any blocking apps currently on your device. To enable one simply toggle the switch to the right of its name.
That’s it. Now when you use Safari you should see a large reduction in the number of adds appearing. Some will inevitably get through using new techniques, but for the most part your browsing will be unencumbered.
Remember this only works in Safari, so any articles you click on in Facebook, Twitter, or other apps will not have the blocker activated.
An added benefit of a blocker is that you should end up using less data, as ads are often visual and therefore larger to download than the text on any given web page. You may also see prolonged battery life, but we wouldn’t hold out too much hope for more than a few minutes here and there.
Are ad blockers safe?
For the most part ad blockers are as safe as any other app on the store. There were some controversial ones a little while back which Apple removed, following reports that they were running man-in-the-middle attacks (this is where software sits between yourself and a website, doing naughty things). But for the most part they are safe to use.
Content Blockers do, by their nature, monitor your web traffic and interfere with your web browsing, which does present temptation for less than gentlemanly behaviour. So, stick to the major apps – such as the ones mentioned above – and you should have no problems.