A better browsing experience on iOS and Mac

Advertisements on websites are a necessary evil for most of us. It’s how we pay our bills but they are super annoying and when a company decides that the ad revenue is more important than the users’ experience or the content they are writing about then browsing becomes a nightmare. We have ads on MacSources but we don’t push our ads out in an annoying way to downgrade our reader’s experience. Yes, it’s how we generate income but I am a big believer that the writing comes first. This is why I don’t mind when people use ad blockers and I don’t try to stop them from viewing our content when using an ad blocker like some other sites we all know of. I would much rather have someone enjoy the website and come back then meet them with a barrage of ads one time and have them never come back. This is why I like ad blockers that work. I have found over the years many of our fellow tech sites don’t believe in the same philosophy as I do and the reading experience on those sites becomes an advertisement cesspool. This is where 1Blocker comes into play.

DETAILS

1Blocker has been in operation since August 2015. The mission of the project was simply to be a content blocker for iOS. Now, it is one of the top downloads for the iOS and Mac App Stores. The app allows users to block intrusive ads, trackers, and other elements on websites so that the viewing experience is clean and smooth. 1Blocker is designed to keep users safe while they browse the Internet. Once it’s installed, the app will automatically receive cloud-based updates in the background so the user can set it and forget it. 1Blocker is natively designed to work with Safari and as such, it isn’t a resource hog that will drain your device’s battery. The app provides filters to Safari and doesn’t modify webpages in any way. This makes the blocking action super quick and efficient. With 1Blocker installed, sites will load 2-5x faster than normal. Even though many ads can be eliminated through the use of 1Blocker, not all ads are blockable.

SPECS

  • SECURE BY DESIGN: 1Blocker is secure and private. It doesn’t have access to webpages and doesn’t track you in any way.
  • ADVANCED CUSTOMIZATION: 1Blocker is a highly customizable content blocker, providing the possibility to create powerful custom rules. It allows you to create custom rules that block any URL by providing a regular expression or hide any element by CSS. It also lets you block cookies. (Available in Premium)
  • AVAILABLE ON ALL DEVICES: 1Blocker is available for iPhone, iPad, and Mac. Your preferences and custom rules are always in sync through iCloud no matter which device you’re using.
  • FEATURES AVAILABLE FOR FREE: The ability to enable one category (for example, Block Trackers only), Whitelisting sites right from the Safari extension, Whitelist synchronization between devices via iCloud, and the possibility to see blocked resources on a site

SOFTWARE UPDATE 4-28-2020

As of April 28, 1Blocker is on version 3.5 and also has these features.

  • Improved support for accessibility features (VoiceOver)
  • Added new regional filters for better Chinese and Polish ad blocking

USER EXPERIENCE

1Blocker is available for both iOS and macOS. I had the opportunity to use both versions. They are available in the app stores for both iOS and Mac and are free to download. 1Blocker for Mac features a two-pane design with the left pane providing access to blocking rules that can be toggled on and off. The right panel is a detailed view that can be hidden. In addition to details about the blocked content, the top section also has a search field and stats that show how many rules are enabled vs. disabled. 1Blocker’s basic operations are free for users, but there are some premium functions including:

  • The ability to enable multiple categories (for example, Block Ads + Block Trackers + Block Comments and so on)
  • Frequent rule updates via our cloud service
  • Custom rules, groups of rules and advanced customization

1Blocker offers premium features as monthly, yearly, or lifetime subscriptions. Normally, I don’t like subscription-based software, but 1Blocker has included the option for the subscription to be shared between an unlimited number of devices on the same Apple account. Installation is pretty simple, but it’s important to note that 1Blocker is an extension for Safari. So to access and activate the app’s features, you will need to visit Safari’s preferences and go to “Content Blockers.” Then, you will enable all the 1Blocker extensions. 1Blocker is powered by the content-blocking rules already set-up in Safari so the only limit is how many rules Apple allows per extension. 1Blocker actually gets around this limit by dividing rules up by category and each category of rules can be turned on and off in groups. Whitelisting is another tool you can use which trusts a site 100%. It bypasses any rules you’ve made, except forcing all-https requests.

I want to point something out here. Each extension within 1Blocker states that it does not have permission to “read or transmit content from any webpages.” This is important because it means that the app can’t send your private browsing information to anyone else. I also have a Browsing Protection extension that was provided by my ISP and that bit of text is different. It actually states that the extension CAN send my information back to the developer. I am not a fan of that. I do like that 1Blocker is helping to protect your information rather than send it to others.

I have a small list of websites I won’t even attempt to visit via an iOS device because of how many advertisements you get blasted with when visiting. One site had two banners ads, a square block ad, and then a third banner ad before even getting to the first word of the article. This makes for the most terrible reading experience and no one is going to be able to enjoy reading with some ad is blasted in your face every five seconds. These websites make for a wonderful testing environment for 1Blocker on iOS. One of my favorite features is the ‘block annoying element’ option. The group of images below shows how it works. Basically, while you are on the page you want to view, you tap on the Share button in the bottom menu bar. When you scroll down the screen to see more options, 1Blocker is one of those options. You then have the option to select a specific element on the webpage you are viewing and tell 1Blocker to block it. This comes in very handy when you are on a page that has a specific area for an advertisement or an image area that you want to avoid.

I am also able to use these same sites for testing on my Mac as they are also hard to enjoy but are more tolerable. The first one on my list was the worst offender and it sucks that they are like this because the guys behind the site are a great group of people. Needless to say, after enabling 1Blocker, I was able to visit their website without any annoying over reaching ads hitting me. It was amazing that on an iPad and iPhone I was able to read this content without wanting to close Safari and give up. I tested the other sites I normally have issues with and still no ads. It was wonderful.

CONCLUSION

I’ve used a lot of different content blockers over the years and overall, I think that 1Blocker is the best one I’ve used. It is a MUST HAVE APP for both iOS and macOS. It’s not resource-heavy and it works. That may seem like an obvious statement, but when you’ve used content blockers that still let content through or worse, send your information back to another source, what 1Blocker does is magical. It’s totally worth the premium subscription.

The free version is available for download in the iOS and Mac App Store. New users can subscribe to premium versions for $2.99 per month or $14.99 annually. If you want to pay a one-time fee, opt for the lifetime license, which is $38.99.

For more details, visit 1Blocker, Twitter.