Ads are annoying and make pages load longer. To address the problem, several plugins for blocking ads have been developed to help users stay away from malware and have a smooth, clean browsing experience for most websites, at least the more popular ones.
One of these ad blocking plugins with a strong following is Adblock Plus (ABP), which has more than 50 million users per month. Although ABP has had an unhindered run on personal computers, Google decided to take it down from the Google Play store, together with other ad blocking plugins, which prevented it from servicing Android devices.
"Interference with another service or product in an unauthorized manner" was the reason Google cited when it took down the said extensions, a move that was viewed by many as distasteful, putting Google's priorities in question.
Even with the setback, Adblock Plus somehow found a way to integrate itself on iOS devices. However, instead of the plugin, the company developed an entirely new browser.
"So ad blocking is coming to Safari/iOS 9 in mid-Sept? Thinkin' Adblock Browser may just beat it to the punch ..." Adblock Plus stated in a tweet posted on Aug. 25.
So ad blocking is coming to Safari/iOS 9 in mid-Sept? Thinkin' Adblock Browser may just beat it to the punch ... pic.twitter.com/XeVtScjlXl
— Adblock Plus (@AdblockPlus) August 25, 2015
A couple of weeks later, Adblock happily announced that the Cupertino giant has decided to enlist the browser for the current iOS version and integrate the app into iOS9 Safari. "We'll have our OWN browser for iOS AND an iOS9 Safari app," tweeted Adblock Plus.
We'll have our OWN browser for iOS AND an iOS9 Safari app Here's how the browser's testing vs Safari (w/o blocking) https://t.co/mBmjJad49F — Adblock Plus (@AdblockPlus) September 3, 2015
In a blog post published on Sept. 3, ABP made a side-by-side comparison of its browser's load times with Safari's, without any plugins. Several popular and ad-heavy websites were tested on two identical devices, one running the new ABP browser and the other Safari.
In a graphical summary, the ABP browser was shown to beat Safari and recorded loading times as low as 3 seconds and as high as 9 seconds, depending on the webpage. Safari loaded the same webpages in 5 seconds at the fastest and 13 seconds at the slowest. Webpages with the most ads took longer to load.
The results are consistent with claims made by a study from the University of British Columbia that ads take up 25 percent of the bandwidth when browsing webpages and as much as 40 percent when watching video.
In response to Apple creating a cleaner experience for users, Google has featured the ABP browser on its Play store for Android devices.
"Adblock Plus is very excited and grateful to have our app, Adblock Browser for Android, available in the Google Play Store," said Till Faida, Adblock Plus co-founder.
The app, which has been available since May, has been downloaded about 300,000 times. Considering the number of Android device users, the number is a drop in the bucket. Adblock Plus sees how big an impact getting featured in the Play store can have on promoting their app.
The entire scenario with ABP and ad blocking shows how competition between brands can bring about what is best for consumers.