There was a time when online ads were an annoyance at worst. That time is long gone.
Not every online ad is vicious, but a new string of malvertising ads have browsers rightfully worried. Malvertising is a technique that some data thieves use to steal your information and hijack your browser. It involves inserting vicious scripts into online ads designed to commit all kinds of malicious purposes. The number of these malicious adds keeps growing every year and shows no sign of slowing down.
Even the safest of ads can clutter your favorite websites and make browsing them unenjoyable or worse. They slow down browsing speed, they drain batteries, and some websites just aren’t built to display them properly.
It’s no surprise, then, to learn that an estimated 309 million smartphone users have begun using an ad-blocking service. Ad-blockers remove or filter online ads in order to ensure a cleaner and safer online browsing experience. The best of them even let you “whitelist” trusted websites.
The problem is that there are so many ad-blocking apps for iOS that finding “the best” ends up being a tall task. That’s where we come in to help.
+ Built-In Browser
+ Privacy Protector
+ Access Exclusive Websites
– Not the best browser
– A Little Slow at Times
– Occasional Compatibility Issues
Onion Browser is a particularly popular ad blocking option amongst the most serious of users. Why? Well, it probably has something to do with the fact it’s an internet browser designed from the ground up to emphasize privacy.
Onion Browser doesn’t just block ads; it helps to ensure that many attempts to compromise your internet browsing experience are unsuccessful. As an anti-tracking browser, Onion Browser emphasizes private browsing in a way that few other browsers do.
Yes, there is an included ad-blocker, but when you use Onion Browser, you’re really committing to much more. While that can be a good thing, it has some downsides.
First off, Onion Browser isn’t the sleekest browser out there. It can actually be a little clunky at times. Second, there are times when using it will cause strange compatibility and security issues.
Finally, Onion Browser is a bit of overkill for those who just want to block ads. However, it’s certainly worth considering if you’re looking for something more.
+Doubles as a browser
+Offers Discreet Internet Use
+Eliminates Hidden Tracks
– Not as feature heavy as other ad-blockers
– Not the best overall browser
– Supposed “Improved Speed” is debatable
Firefox Focus is essentially Firefox’s private browsing mode turned to 11. Like Firefox’s private setting, Firefox Focus doesn’t track your browsing history. Unlike that setting, it also automatically removes ads and online data trackers.
Firefox Focus works well for the most part. It eliminates the most dangerous of ads and is a decent enough browser to boot. It’s a fairly hassle-free way to ease the most common of online browsing security fears.
Unfortunately, Firefox Focus suffers from a lack of features. It offers very little user control over which ads it blocks. That means that it’s easy for many to slip by. Furthermore, there’s a good chance you may like using a non-Firefox browser. If that is the case, you’ll be disheartened to learn that Firefox Focus is still essentially Firefox.
This is a great option for casual browsers who enjoy using Firefox. Everyone else will be happy to learn there are many other options available.
+ Easy Interface
+ Fantastic Performance
– Light on Features
– Only Works With Safari
– Spotty Update History
Crystal has long been one of the most interesting ad blocking options available for iOS.
As a $0.99 app, Crystal finds itself stuck between the more premium ad blocking options and the many free services out there. In theory, you’re either better off spending a little more or just downloading a free alternative.
What helps Crystal stand out is its reliability. Crystal is able to consistently block ads across a variety of websites even if other ad blockers struggle to recognize them. On top of that, it’s easy to use, sports a minimalist design that compliments Safari’s clean interface, and it can even improve the performance of certain websites.
The downside is that Crystal only works with Safari and it lacks some of the more advanced IP and whitelist features found in more expensive ad blockers.
Overall, Crystal is a great, affordable ad-blocking option that is a feature or two away from being the best in class.
+ Feature heavy
+ Compatible with all networks
+ Comes with a detailed tutorial
– No longer blocks app ads
– Sometimes requires you to do manual blocking
– Slightly more expensive for what is offered
AdBlock is a great ad blocker option for those who don’t mind getting their hands a little dirty. This is a full-featured blocking service that lets you dictate what kind of ads are blocked, where they are blocked, and what rules they must follow.
While that could all be overwhelming, AdBlock does come with a detailed tutorial that does a great job of breaking everything down.
Unfortunately, AdBlock does suffer from being a little high-maintenance. You’ll occasionally need to go into the settings to ensure the right content is getting blocked. Even then, you may have to do some digging.
It’s also a shame that this app no longer blocks ads from other apps, but this is a great option for those not afraid of a little work.
+ Automatically updates
+ Simple to use
+ Great developer support
– Offers less user control
– Tends to be a little too aggressive
Wipr is certainly one of the best options for those looking for hassle-free ad blocking. Wipr just asks that you activate its service once when you wish to remove online ads. From there, the app updates itself to ensure that ads stay removed.
If for any reason Wipr doesn’t work as it should, you can always contact the helpful development team for support. Most of the time, though, you’ll be able to solve most issues with a simple refresh.
The downside is that Wipr doesn’t offer many options when it comes to allowing ads. That will be fine for some, but those who prefer to have a little more control will probably need to look elsewhere.
Overall, though, this really is one of the best options.
2. AdGuard Pro
+ VPN Features
+ Parental controls
+ Tons of user options
– Might be too complicated for some.
If you’re not afraid of an ad-blocking app that requires a little work, then AdGuard Pro is the best option for you.
It’s better to think of AdGuard Pro a VPN service that so happens to block ads. It offers DNS management options that help block certain online spies from taking a peek at your browsing activity.
On top of all that, you get excellent ad blocking options designed to assure the user that any ads they may see are trusted, secure, and optional. The trade-off is that AdGuard’s set-up requires you to perform some DNS configuration and additional network set-up.
Yes, AdGuard Pro takes a little longer to set-up, but the payoff is well worth it.
+ Proven to improve battery life and browsing speed
+ Allows for a variety of content blocking options
+ Whitelist sites through Safari
– Has been known to stop working randomly
Blocking ads is one thing. Lots of apps can do that. How many apps also allow you to block social media buttons, comments, and certain online scripts?
Purify is one of the few that can lay claim to that range of features. The app allows you to completely customize your browsing experience by eliminating not just harmful content, but online annoyances as well.
Best of all, Purify is a user-friendly service that makes it easy to approve a website’s ads or change settings without having to leave Safari.
There have been some reports that suggest Purify can randomly crash, but this really is just about the best ad blocking app around.