News today from Ad Block Plus on their Android development. Apparently, using the Firefox browser source, they’ve developed a browser with built-in powerful ad blocking technology.
For the past few months, we’ve been working on a mobile browser with adblocking tightly integrated. Today we’re proud to announce the open beta of Adblock Browser for Android.
We’ve kept things secretive around Adblock Browser in the early phase, but like most of the things we do, it’s open source. We are now starting to make the repository, issues and code reviews public, and they’ll stay that way.
Adblock Browser isn’t our first foray into mobile, that would beÂ Adblock Plus for Android. Weâ€™ve thought hard about how we can move forward with it. But at the end of the day, there are two big problems we cannot solve:
- The Google Play storeÂ threw us outÂ for â€œinterference with another service or productâ€. Doing anything on mobile that doesnâ€™t appear in the major app stores is, unfortunately, pretty hard. Weâ€™re practically invisible to the vast majority of mobile users.
- Adblock Plus for Android can only block ads overÂ HTTPÂ (i.e. unencrypted) connections. We were always quite unhappy with this â€“ we want to protect our usersâ€™ privacy, not hurt it by encouraging unencrypted connections.
Those arenâ€™t the only problems with Adblock Plus for Android, but the other ones can be solved if we invest enough energy into it â€“ these two canâ€™t, really. So thatâ€™s one reason why weâ€™ve decided to build our own mobile browser.
A browser is a good idea for other reasons as well. For one, it allows us to integrate adblocking tightly into the browsing experience, whereas weâ€™re quite limited in most extension environments, Firefox being the notable exception.
Speaking of Firefox â€“ Adblock Browser is based on Firefox for Android. One major reason for this is that we, both as a project and as a company, admire Mozilla a great deal. Several of us have contributed to Firefox and other Mozilla projects long before we thought about creating Adblock Browser, and the way we work and our culture is to a large extent inspired by Mozilla. Mozillaâ€™s openness is what made Adblock Plus possible in the first place. And since we have to bet on one platform, we decided to bet on Firefox.
Firefox for Android is a great mobile browser, one many of us have already been using happily. Most users arenâ€™t aware of it, but it even supports extensions, including Adblock Plus. Unfortunately, as opposed to Firefox on Desktop, weâ€™re extremely limited when it comes to integrating Adblock Plus into the user interface of Firefox for Android. Building our own browser gives us a lot more freedom to integrate adblocking as a first class feature thatâ€™s easy to understand and configure.
For now, our goal is to build a solid mobile browser with great adblocking integrated. Thatâ€™s also our goal during the beta: We will fix bugs and we will address usability issues, but weâ€™re not planning to do major changes.
We do have big plans for the future, however. Weâ€™re currently sticking largely to Firefox for Androidâ€™s UI, but we will over time move things in a different direction, based on our own usersâ€™ needs and wishes. We will make adblocking (and content blocking in general) more flexible and easier to configure. And we will look into ways of bringing Adblock Browser and the desktop browser of your choice together in a way that makes sense.
But first things first. For now, pleaseÂ join the beta,Â give us feedbackÂ andcontributeÂ â€“ let us bring adblocking to mobile for good.