Wolverton: Apple iOS 9 features controversial Web ad blocking

Apple’s software operating system for smartphones has a new feature, which many people don’t know about but that users of the iPhone or iPad will enjoy.

Apple’s IOS 9, released Wednesday, lets you add ad-blockers to Safari. A handful of blocking options are available already from the App Shop; additional blockers will probably be made in the next days and week.

Similar to the blockers for desktop Web-browsers, these blocks work. Blockers block ads from loading on a user’s browser when they open a Web site. It results in pages that load faster and are less cluttered. Google search results pages can also be blocked by these blockers, which will remove sponsored links.

Crystal, the $1 application blocking my internet access was one I downloaded. Configuring it took only seconds. Once you have installed it, all you need is to access the Safari preferences menu in Settings to enable it. It did a good job and didn’t attract too much attention. It was gone.

Apple’s iOS 9 update doesn’t include a feature called ad blocking. But users are aware of it. Already, the AppStore has two popular ad-blockers.

Despite not receiving much publicity from Apple, this new feature has sparked a lot discussion among Web publishers since July, when Apple announced its operating system update. Many publishers worried about the impact of this feature on their businesses which depend heavily upon advertising. Some fear that losing control over content may result in them having to use Apple’s News app and Facebook instead of their own websites.

Advocates on the other hand argue that this is due to publisher marketing. Many web sites have grown too crowded with ads which consume substantial amounts of wireless users’ data. These ads can also be used to track and analyze users’ movement and behavior without their explicit consent.

Photo: The Vox homepage is viewed side-byside from Safari. It shows how it looks when there’s no ad blocker.