14 min

Apple iOS 9 - news reader and ad blocker

Positives for the user reading experience.

Possibly negatives for publishers if they choose to remain stuck in the past.








create crappy, bloated websites, and users revolt.

and don't blame innovation that originates at Google, Facebook, Apple, Snapchat, WhatsApp, Instagram, etc. and satisfies information consumers.

iOS 9 came out yesterday (in fits and starts) and with it, support for content blockers in iOS 9. There is already a little cottage industry of ad blockers available, and you should definitely try one or two — they will radically improve your mobile web experience, because they will... block huge chunks of the web from loading.

Yes, because the blame for a miserable mobile web experience does not belong to phones and browsers like a dimwitted Verge.com writer proclaimed back in the summer.

The blame for a dreadful web experience on any device belongs to the web site owners.

Tons of useless JavaScript, numerous large images, and dozens of trackers and other goop all conspire to bog down a user's web experience.

That's why I improve my web reading experience by disabling JavaScript and/or by using the NoScript and Ghostery browser plugins.

I could read the article by using the Readability browser plugin on Chrome.

Safari has a simple-reader option.

I could use the Links browser too.

I could use Curl or my own web script to access and clean up a web page.

Provided the content is not behind a paywall.

I would pay a significant annual subscription fee to the Toledo Blade if they served article pages to paying customers in a format similar to this:

[Apple] offers publishers salvation in the form of Apple News, inside of which Apple will happily display (unblockable!) ads, and even sell them on publishers' behalf for just a 30 percent cut.

Oh, and if you're not happy with Apple News, you can always turn to Facebook's Instant Articles, which will also track the shit out of you and serve unblockable ads inside of the Facebook app, but from Apple's perspective it's a win as long as the money's not going to Google.

Therefore, stick with plain old web browsers, such as Safari, Chrome, or Opera on the iPhone.

But that means slow-loading content from piggy websites.

Maybe people will use Apple News, Instant Articles, or Snapchat's Discoverhttp://www.poynter.org/news/mediawire/373305/apples-news-which-launches-today-is-the-latest-in-a-trend-toward-distributed-content/ service because those apps will load content much faster and display it much better than the publishers' websites, and then the users won't mind the ads.

So it's Apple vs. Google vs. Facebook, all with their own revenue platforms. Google has the web, Facebook has its app, and Apple has the iPhone. This is the newest and biggest war in tech going today.

And the collateral damage of that war — of Apple going after Google's revenue platform — is going to include the web, and in particular any small publisher on the web that can't invest in proprietary platform distribution, native advertising, and the type of media wining-and-dining it takes to secure favorable distribution deals on proprietary platforms. It is going to be a bloodbath of independent media.

I don't know about that last statement. It's way too early to make a claim like that. Let's check back in one to two years, eh?

Taking money and attention away from the web means that web innovation will slow to a crawl.

Mmm, is that bad? I occasionally encounter web pages that have been created with minimal HTML, and they load fast and display fine on any device. On mobile, I have to hold the phone in landscape mode and tap the screen to fill the screen with content, making the font size larger and easier to read, but at least that option is available.

It stuns me how often I encounter a newly designed website that uses response web design techniques, yet the site uses an uncomfortable, tiny font size when the site is loaded on a phone. And the site is restricted to portrait mode display only, so I cannot switch to landscape mode to increase the font size.

For a better reading experience, many content sites need to got back to creating web pages with a minimal 1995 look, instead of using the wealth of web technologies that exist in 2015.

Maybe web innovation needs to slow because it seems that web site owners use every new gadget for the sake of using it, instead of using the technology to solve a problem or to make the user experience better.

If JavaScript is required to display a single web page of article content that contains mostly text, then that site has jumped the shark, and it should be read only on another platform.

Casey Johnston wrote a great piece for The Awl about ad blockers, in which The Awl's publisher noted that "seventy-five to eighty-five percent" of the site's ads could be blocked. What happens to a small company when you take away 75 to 85 percent of its revenue opportunities in the name of user experience? Who's going to make all that content we love so much, and what will it look like if it only makes money on proprietary platforms?

Is it possible to display ads within an article page in an empathetic manner? Do the ads need to be annoying, abusive, and intrusive? Do the ads need to autoplay audio and video? Do the ads need to peg the CPU on older desktop and laptop computers?

It's nearly required today that we run the latest and greatest desktop and laptop machines in order to have enough RAM and CPU horsepower to display a one article web page.

I'm not playing a video game. I'm not crunching weather data to make a forecast.

I just want to display a web page that can be easily read on a desktop, laptop, tablet, and phone.

Web publishers need to stop trying to make their websites function like native apps. Go back to creating simple web pages.

And if ads can be inserted into an article page in a way that does not irritate users, then that might help a lot.

Switch to a single column article page display.

The Verge.com article is two columns wide. But this TheAwl.com article is only one column wide. That's how these display on my small, low res monitor.


But theawl.com article is annoying because it uses an animated GIF at the top of the page. And I don't get the point of the GIF. It seems useless, irrelevant. And this type of activity needs to disappear.

A writer should make every word count and every image count too. Otherwise, pointless images slow the page load.




You shouldn't feel bad about using an ad blocker, and here's why


Running the Ghostery browser add-on in my Mac browsers has been illuminating:
  • I can’t believe how many trackers are on popular sites.
  • I can’t believe how fast the web is without them.

But that wasn’t possible on mobile, where it’s most needed… until iOS 9.

Today, I’m launching my own iOS 9 content blocker, called Peace, to bring peace, quiet, privacy, and — as a nice side benefit — ludicrous speed to iOS web browsing.

I began using Ghostery in 2013 or 2014. Truly stunning the amount of crap that gets downloaded. It's another reason why it takes so long for a single web page to load completely.

Ad and tracker abuse is much worse on mobile: ads are much larger and harder to dismiss, trackers are harder to detect, their JavaScript slows down page-loads and burns battery power, and their bloat wastes tons of cellular data. And ads are increasingly used as vectors for malware, exploits, and fraud.

But that Verge.com writer in July blamed Safari for a poor mobile web experience.

https://peace.land/ - Marco's iOS9 content blocker for $2.99.



I have to admit they weren’t your average youngsters. They all had a keen interest in technology. But still, these are the people who tell their friends about that “nifty plug-in that speeds up every website by 400 percent”, so you no longer “have to watch those annoying YouTube commercials”, and can start reading stuff right away instead of “finding your way past loads of ads”.

Wait. The problem is not with mobile web browsers??

Once you’ve experienced an ad-free Internet, there’s no going back.

Whoa, it's not just the ads that are annoying. Disabling JavaScript that may or may not be used to display ads also helps speed up the web.

online advertising has become ridiculous. Not only are ads distracting, but they slow down the average news site enormously, especially on mobile devices: up to six times. Also, ads are plain creepy. Advertising companies have turned into surveillance machines over the years. In fact, their omnipresence on the web enables them to follow you everywhere, across websites.

Blendle's monetization idea: micropayments.

Dutch people have to register at Blendle once, after which they’re free to read all paid articles from newspapers and magazines. No paywalls. They only pay for the articles they actually read, and are refunded if a story didn’t appeal to them after all.




The web cannot function like native apps. Good!!

“Simplicity, URLs, and reach” — those are exactly the things the web community should focus on.

Native apps can’t out-web the web, and web apps should embrace that.


Oh man, the media have yet another bogeyman.

First, it was Craigslist. Then Google. Then Facebook. And now it's Apple.

The media publishers constantly blame others for their troubles.

The coming reckoning for publishers is not “because of Apple”. It’s because of the choices the publishers themselves made, years ago, to allow themselves to become dependent on user-hostile ad networks that slow down the web, waste precious device battery life, and invade our privacy. Apple has simply enabled us, the users who are fed up with this crap, to do something about it.

Perhaps I am being smug. But I see the fact that Daring Fireball’s revenue streams should remain unaffected by Safari content-blocking as affirmation that my choices over the last decade have been correct: that I should put my readers’ interests first, and only publish the sort of ads and sponsorships that I myself would want to be served, even if that means leaving (significant) amounts of money on the table along the way.


What is unlikely to fly as a long-term strategy is begging readers to load all of the 50 or so trackers and ad-loaders and popups and banners, each of which might make a publisher three cents per thousand clicks, if they are lucky. That business is in a death spiral, and yelling about ad blockers isn’t going to change that. Evolution is a messy business, but it goes on regardless. Adapt or die.

tweets by ruby on rails creator:


The reckoning is coming for an ad industry that grew reckless with user's bandwidth, privacy, CPU, and attention. About time.


Browsing the web with iOS9 ad-blocker Crystal turned on is such a better experience: https://appsto.re/us/Cat78.i - adoption will be swift.


News for iOS9: A slick RSS reader with built-in ad blocker . (Podcasting made a comeback, so why not RSS?)






Other ad blockers are also topping the paid app chart as of today, including the Purify Blocker (#3), Crystal (#6), Blockr (#12). (Ranks as of the time of writing.)



Partly false. Marco despises annoying, disruptive, bandwidth-hogging ads. So do I.

Marco accepts ads that are small or subtle. But his app blocked all ads. That could harm some publishers, including people who he knows.

He created something that could be viewed as destructive by many people. He didn't have the heart to deal with maintaining an app that would be divisive among the media industry and information consumers.

He would prefer to maintain his podcast app called Overcast, which does not harm anyone. His decision makes sense to me. He earned major money from the sale of Tumblr to Yahoo! Therefore he can afford to decline the potential revenue generated by his ad-blocking app.


to me, it's bad design to use a slug in the url that is different from the title. why do that? the title of the post is: "How to Create the Perfect Adblocker".

oh, theawl post is infantile.


@mathewi Tough ethical question. Practically speaking, I think the web publishing world brought this on itself, unfortunately.


man, that's a bad looking website, fortune.com, at least for an article page. thank you, Readability.


In case you were wondering, one app tracker estimates Marco Arment made $113,000 in the 36 hours his app was live in the app store


BOOM!!! Here's an idea that I like.


Why don't some of the publishers complaining about ad blocking offer a subscription option without ads?

I will PAY for QUALITY.

Excerpts from my Sep 8, 2015 post that I made at ToledoTalk.com.

I'd pay nice money for a Blade subscription if the article pages looked something like this:

http://toledotalk.com/last-alarm.html - (blatant copyright violation. will remove later.)

... instead of this:


... and instead of this:


I don't need a printed paper version. I don't need an app. I prefer one website that responds comfortably on all devices and loads fast with no mountains of JavaScript bilge, no huge irrelevant images, no ads, and no trackers and other gobbledygook that bog down page load speed.

It would be nice if the article page contained a large-ish font size and a lot of negative space. I don't understand why some responsively-designed websites use a tiny, uncomfortable font size on mobile.

I see no need for a bunch of navigation links in the header and footer areas of an article page. No fixed areas. No hamburger or similar menu icons, like I use here. The only link needed is a link to the home page. The reader can find all the site's link cruft on the home page.

Outside of links contained within the article, the only other acceptable link would be to a separate page that contains the Facebook comments, pertaining to the article. If I'm a buying a subscription, I do not want to see Facebook comments loaded on the same page as the article because that slows down the page load and fouls the overall look of the page.

On an article page, I want at least 99% of the page to focus on the article: Title, secondary title, author, contact info, publish date, and content.

Give non-paying customers the hideous views, and give subscribers something worth buying. Until this utopia exists, I'll continue reading with JavaScript disabled, which improves the web-viewing experience a lot.

Derek Powazek with his book about building online communities was instrumental in convincing me to start ToledoTalk.com


If you care about your readers, if you care about your content, don't surround it with blinking autoplaying annoyances. Find another way.


The outcry from publishers today reminds me of my fellow photojournalism graduates in '95. Aghast as if the world owed them a living.


#media #design #rss #mobile #advertising

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