What if I told you that you could prevent in-app ads from showing on most Android apps, as well as ads in on-device internet browsers.
What if you could do so by simply installing an app, and that you could install this app on any normal, non-rooted Android.
Adblock Plus is the free Android app that can do this. It works very well and blocks many types of ads including mobile ads, video advertising, banners, push notifications, display advertising, HTML5 ads, and others.
The app is pretty much ‘install and forget’ and works in the background without user intervention; however, ad-blocking performance depends on several factors, including the version of Android you are using and whether you have a WIFI or mobile internet connection. Ad-blocking performance will be better on rooted devices.
How it works:
Once installed, Adblock Plus will find and download a ‘filter subscription’ that it will use to block ads. These are definitions that enable it to block ads effectively, and they need to be actively maintained and updated. You as a user will not mess with this at all, though, as these will be auto-updated periodically. However, you can go in and change the default subscription if you like. It is possible to get information on each of these lists although somewhat labor intensive. My advice: stick with the default list, and only look into others if you see that ads are not going away.
Otherwise, simply use your apps as per normal. You will see that the ads are not there anymore when using WIFI. Some ads may appear if you have a mobile/3G connection, however. This cannot be helped, unless you have a rooted Android device. If your Android version is 3.0 or earler, you may need to manually configure a proxy.
Note: once switch on ads filtering, if there are any running apps at the time you have to exit the app completely and relaunch it to see the effect.
The app in the screenshots below demonstrates in-app ads (left, without Adblock plus), and then the disappearance of said ads (middle, after ad filtering with Adblock plus is enabled). The third screenshot, on the right, shows blank ads which will occasionally appear (and then disappear shortly afterwards).
A great app that can greatly enhance your Android experience. My only criticism of the app as such is that the whole ‘subscription list’ concept is a bit strange, making me wonder why the folks behind Adblock Plus wouldn’t create a ‘meta list’ for example, but I am guessing they probably have a good reason.
Note that Adblock Plus works routing all traffic through it, and since it will not block ads on mobile internet connections, it would be nice to add the option to activate Adblock Plus only when the device is connected to WIFI, so that mobile traffic is not unnecessarily processed through it’s proxy (and avoid any undue slowness on mobile connections).
Adblock Plus may be a game changer in terms of the implicit contract between app/content creators and users. As someone who relies on ads to keep this site running, I can imagine the disruption that ad blocking can cause app creators, and I am frankly sympathetic.
While ad blockers on the PC were mostly the province of sophisticated users and techies who are unlikely to click on an ad anyway, an install-it-and-forget-it app on a smartphone may be different, and may have wide ranging consequences for the Android app economy that make it even less attractive to developers compared to iOS. On the flip side, it may be that ad-supported content is dying anyway, with ‘freemium’ taking over as the monetization scheme of choice. I will rarely if ever review ad-supported Android games on this site, for example, but freemium games are definitely welcome.
Get Adblock Plus here (Android).