Content Blocking in iOS 9 with Adamant (CHE)

October 5, 2015

One of the most popular, if controversial, features of iOS 9 is the built-in support for content blockers in Safari. On the one hand, I think most people are probably willing to pay for quality content; on the other hand, a lot of pretty awful stuff goes on in the world of online advertising, especially on mobile devices. Trying to access many mobile sites, especially mobile news sites, can result in massive amounts of data and battery use … just to get to the ads. It’s one thing to agree to watch an ad, or to have several banner ads displayed, in order to access content for free; it’s another thing altogether for those ads to use trackers that report on everything you do online. Content blockers strip all of this out. Macworld has a good accounting of how they work. (A side benefit: since using a content blocker, I’ve never once gotten the dreaded “This page encountered a problem and needs to reload” error while using Safari.)

As soon as iOS 9 launched, content blockers surged to the top of the sales lists in the App Store. It’s been a pretty wild couple of weeks: Marco Arment’s Peace, initially the bestseller, was withdrawn after he had second thoughts about his implementation of Ghostery’s database; another popular content blocker, Crystal, announced that they’d be selling to advertisers the ability to appear on a whitelist.

A content blocker that’s dear to the hearts of ProfHacker, though, is Adamant, developed by former ProfHacker contributor (and George’s former student) Cory Bohon.

Ben Brooks did a pretty comprehensive review of the initial state of content blockers, and Adamant ended up being one of his three recommended choices:

It’s also the most Apple like of the content blockers I tried — in that it makes a lot of decisions for you, and is fairly vague about those decisions, but they are pretty good decisions all around.

Which is what makes Adamant the most Apple like: you don’t have any real control over it, you just have to trust the app makes the right calls. Surprisingly, the app is in the top three for speed, even though it took a hit on the Daring Fireball test (loading the site slower than without a content blocker). Which is pretty impressive, given that it’s not clear what is and isn’t being blocked.

I’d recommend Adamant for people not wanting to stop supporting sites in The Deck ad network, or for anyone just wanting something that is dead simple — set and forget — type of content blocker. You still get immense speed, and you have nothing to worry about tweaking. I plan on recommending this one to my family, that way they aren’t likely to screw up the settings, since there are none.

If you are interested in dramatically speeding up your iPhone or iPad browsing speed, while improving battery life and online privacy, why not give Adamant a try?

Adamant is $1.99 in the App Store.

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About Ryan C. Fowler

Ryan is a curricular fellow at the Center for Hellenic Studies in Washington D.C. He also teaches at Franklin and Marshall College and Lancaster Theological Seminary.
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