iOS 9 How-To: Content Blockers

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Another neat new feature in iOS 9 is the ability to add content blockers to Safari. In essence, this brings ad blocking to iOS Safari for the first time. iOS 9 has only been available for a day, yet we’re already seeing several content blockers rank high in the App Store charts.

Content blockers, like other extensions in iOS, must be downloaded along with a full iOS app. However, these extensions are extremely limited. In a nutshell, these extensions just contain a list of elements to not allow when viewing a website. While the apps containing them can update the list of items to exclude, the data they send to Safari is already compiled. This means that, while these apps can help remove content in Safari, they can’t track what you are doing on the web. They simply have no way to get data back from Safari.

Now, some have said that this is simply ad blocking on iOS. While it can be used to block ads, this has potential beyond that simple description. These blockers could be used to exclude other content, whether it is completely removing certain plugins from a website that might impact performance, to blocking entire websites based on their content. Want to install a strict parental app on your kid’s iPad? Such may be possible with content blockers.

For now, most of the blockers I have seen all seem to focus on ad removal. However, while all being similar in how they function, they each operate differently. Below is a list of content blockers currently available on the App Store. Some of these provide additional benefits, such as Blockr, which includes an option to disable media (images, videos) from loading at all, making it a perfect companion for someone with either a slow data connection or low bandwidth cap.

Content Blockers settings Safari iOS 9

Once you’ve downloaded one of these, it’s very easy to enable on your iOS device. Simply navigate to Settings > Safari > Content Blockers. You’ll find any content blockers you have downloaded in this list. And should you find two that do different things, don’t feel like you have to choose only one. You can have multiple blockers active at the same time.

While this is a new feature to iOS, it has the potential to change how web browsing is on our iPhones and iPads. What do you think of content blocking on iOS? Let us know below!

UPDATE (September 18): Peace was pulled from the App Store by Marco Arment. The above list has been modified to reflect that.

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