iOS 9 Allows Developers To Build Ad Blockers for Safari

Developers looking under the hood at the new iOS 9 beta during Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference event this week have discovered that the Settings options and documentation might let them build apps focused on ad blocking and privacy.

Apple isn't promoting or even discussing the feature, but they were unearthed deep in the iOS Developer Library. Called content blocking, the feature uses an API that can remove elements such as images and cookies from Web views.

Content blocking allows developers to pass JSON files with a set of rules for images, popups, cookies, resources and other elements in the Safari browser. Safari screens incoming Web content without feeding browsing history back to the extension. Xcode, AppleEUs suite of tools for OS X and iOS, includes a template for such extensions, requiring developers only to edit the JSON file to add triggers and actions.

"Xcode includes a content blocker app extension template that contains code to send your JSON file to Safari," Apple noted on its WhatEUs New in Safari blog. "Just edit the JSON file in the template to provide your own triggers and actions."

Good for All?

Content blocker is currently live in iOS 9 beta builds. It features a menu option that indicates content blockers affect what content is loaded while using Safari but the menu doesn't offer any options until the user deploys an app that adds blocking functionality. The blockers cannot send any information about what was blocked back to the app.

We reached out to Patrick Moorhead, founder and principal analyst Moor Insights & Strategy, to get his thoughts on the news. He speculated that AppleEUs inclusion of content blocker in iOS 9 isnEUt all about dollars and cents.

"Unlike Google and Facebook, AppleEUs business model doesnEUt depend on mining consumerEUs personal data," said Moorhead. "Competitively, I do think that actions...

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