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Security & Privacy

iOS Content Blockers

Some ad blockers are free to download and try out, but to get a full list of features which enable the software more effective, you will need to pay via an in-app purchase.

How does an ad blocker work?

A blocker does not allow a browser to download unwanted elements such as banners, ads, videos, pop-ups and blocks analytical trackers and/or social network widgets. Basically, ad blockers have a list of rules or “filters” which detect ads and undesired content and separates it from the desired content (based on the settings you have chosen in the ad blocker application). It is important, that the filters are updated, much like virus or malware software so that publishers and advertisers cannot circumvent the ad blocker filters. Although some ad blocker developers compile their own filters, many use publicly available filter lists. And finally, some apps have additional functions such as cybercrime protection and parental controls.

Purify AppPurify ($1.99 at iTunes) is a favorite which I have used on my iPhone and iPad for some time. It boasts improved battery life and browsing speed by blocking unwanted content, allows for customized content blocking options (social media buttons, comments, online scripts, images) and allows whitelisting in Safari. Purify allows you to approve website ads or make changes on the fly without leaving Safari, making it very user friendly. Purify has their own custom filter list which is specifically designed for mobile devices and therefore is optimized for smooth and fast iOS performance.

Another ad blocker for mobile devices is Ghostery which I discussed in a previous article as a good choice for desktop browsers Firefox, Cliqz (a privacy-focused browser backed by Mozilla), Chrome, Opera, Safari, Edge and Internet Explorer. Ghostery’s mobile ad blocker features a standalone browser for iPhone, iPad and iPod as well as Android devices. Ghostery also works inside Firefox on Android phones. I have used Ghostery for about a year now on my Mac and Windows units and find it to be very good at blocking content. Ghostery has implemented artificially intelligent tech to identify whether a web page tracker is sending your personal information to an advertiser and if so, overwrites that information with random data so that your data cannot be provided. To my knowledge, Ghostery has a blocklist of around 2,000 entries.

Ad Blockers
  • Purify Ad Blocker for iOS on iTunes
  • Crystal is a content blocker for iPhone, IPad and Samsung Devices and can be found on iTunes and on Google Play
  • Freedom for iOS (Version 9-11) can be found on iTunes. Freedom also works on Mac OS X and Windows
  • 1Blocker Content Blocker for iOS and macOS
  • Ghostery Ad Blocker for iOS can be found on iTunes and for the Android on Google Play

Additional reading: How trackers are tracking you and what you can do to protect yourself