Ads are a staple fixture of the internet. They are how creators of content get paid and, while they can certainly be annoying, remain an important part of the modern online economy. That being said, if you find the constant barrage of consumerism too much then it's actually easy to block them when using Safari on your iPhone or iPad.
How to install an Ad Block app on the iPhone and iPad
The way ad-blockers work is through Safari extentions. This feature has been around for a while now and isn't solely restricted to removing pesky solicitations. In fact there are a number of useful add-ons available that can help simplify your browsing experience.
Take a look at our 22 Best Safari Extensions guide for more details.
To set up an ad-blocker you'll first need to acquire one from the App Store. You'll find plenty of options, but our favourites are the free AdBlock Plus, Crystal Adblock which will set you back the princely sum of 79p, or the newer Better by Ind.ie which costs £4.99 but is a very good little app.
For this tutorial we've opted for Crystal but the instructions will be identical for any ad-blocker.
Download the app and then open it to walk through the very basic tutorial. There isn't much in the way of settings, but the main page has two options - Acceptable Ads and Whitelist.
The former will permit ads that the app deems 'non-intrusive'. This is a good setting to leave on as it means websites will still be able to generate revenue from your visits but you won't be bombarded with pop-ups, screen takeovers, or other unpleasant marketing disasters.
Whitelist is a way to add your favourite sites so that they are exempt from the general ad-blocking. Why would you do this? You ask. Well, your favourite sites won't be around much longer if the writers and video creators have to work for free. So allowing ads is an honourable way to support those who make the content you enjoy at no cost to yourself.
To add sites to the Whitelist simply tap the option at the bottom of the screen and enter the URL.
Enabling the ad-blocker in Safari
Now, for the ad-blocker to actually work in Safari you're going to have to enable the extension.
To do this go to Settings>Safari>Content Blockers. You might be surprised to find this setting as it doesn't actually appear until you've downloaded an ad-blocker.
Inside Content Blockers you'll see a list of any blocking apps currently on your device. To enable one simply toggle the switch to the right of its name.
That's it. Now when you use Safari you should see a large reduction in the number of adds appearing. Some will inevitably get through using new techniques, but for the most part your browsing will be unencumbered.
Remember this only works in Safari, so any articles you click on in Facebook, Twitter, or other apps will not have the blocker activated.
An added benefit of a blocker is that you should end up using less data, as ads are often visual and therefore larger to download than the text on any given webpage. You may also see prolonged battery life, but we wouldn't hold out too much hope for more than a few minutes here and there.
Are ad-blocker safe?
For the most part ad-blockers are as safe as any other app on the store. There were some controversial ones a little while back which Apple removed, following reports that they were running man-in-the-middle attacks (this is where software sits between yourself and a website, doing naughty things). But for the most part they are safe to use.
Content Blockers do, by their nature, monitor your web traffic and interfere with your web browsing, which does present temptation for less than gentlemanly behaviour. So, stick to the major apps - such as the ones mentioned above - and you should have no problems.
Is using an ad-blocker a good thing?
Now, here's the rub.
Everyone likes to enjoy the free content available on the web. Paywalls are generally frowned upon, and not many sites have made them work.
But, and this is important, the only way that sites are able to create such great content and provide it to you at no cost is through advertisers paying them for access to the readership.
It was a similar story when magazines and newspapers ruled the information highway, but back then you couldn't have the publication automatically evicerate its ads before you enjoyed the articles. Not unless you had a very dutiful butler with a sharp pair of scissors.
Therefore its important that publishers gain that ad revenue in order to pay their staff, continue to exist, and produce features such as the one you're reading.
Ads can be unpleasant, that's cetainly true. So if you find a regular haunt whose content you enjoy, but uses intrusive ads, write to the editor and complain. This can be fed back to the advertisers and hopefully bring about a change on the site that benefits everyone.
If you do use an ad-blocker generally then consider opting for one with a Whitelist, and put your favourite sites on that list. The non-intrusive settings available on apps such as Crystal also allow you to contribute to the financial wellbeing of a site by rewarding advertising that repsects the reader.
In the end it's up to your own conscience. You can block all ads, take content, and no-one will be knocking on your door with a warrant for your arrest.
Just be prepared to live in world where the streets are littered with dishevelled ex-journalists, holding out their withered hands to you as they plaintively cry '50p for how-to tutorial, guv'nor?'