Apple paves the way for ad blockers in Safari for iOS 9

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Safari's new Content Blockers settings in iOS 9.
Safari's new Content Blockers settings in iOS 9.
Photo: Killian Bell/Cult of Mac

Apple is planning to open up mobile Safari to “Content Blockers,” according to a new features discovered in the iOS 9 beta. The change could pave the way for ad blocking extensions, which prevent images, popups, and other content from loading as you browse the web.

“The new “Content Blocking” feature allows developers to pass a JSON file with a set of rules for images, popups, cookies, resources and other elements in Safari,” explains The Next Webwhich was first to spot the Content Blockers section in Safari’s settings menu.

This is a first for Safari on iOS, and it paves the way for all kinds of neat extensions that could improve your browsing experience. Apple explains that content blockers “affect what content is loaded while using Safari,” and “cannot send any information about what is blocked back to the app.”

The means apps like Disconnect, which blocks tracking scripts and prevent websites from recording your visit, to be used on iOS for the first time. It could also pave the way for ad blockers, which prevent ads from loading on the websites you visit.

Is that a good thing? Well, maybe for the average user, for a period of time. But when you block ads on the web, you prevent content providers from earning any revenue from them. If we all did that, our favorite sites would have to find other sources of revenue, or stop supplying content altogether.

It’s easy to see why Apple built the Content Blockers feature, but we’re assuming it was mostly intended to stop tracking given Apple’s focus on privacy and security, rather than to block ads.

Content Blockers can also be found in Safari on OS X El Capitan, though the desktop version of Safari has supported extensions that block ads and tracking scripts for years.