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Opera Browsers Now Block Ads On iPhones and Windows Phones

June 16, 2016, 9:21 AM UTC
Opera's ad-blocking feature is now available on iOS and Windows Phone.
Opera's ad-blocking feature is now available on iOS and Windows Phone.
Opera Software

Opera Software (OPESY) has rolled out its native ad-blocking feature to its browsers for Apple’s (AAPL) iPhones and iPads, and for Microsoft’s (MSFT) Windows Phone.

The Norwegian company had already deployed the feature in its desktop browser and Opera Mini for Google’s (GOOG) Android. Now, with ad-blocking baked into Opera Mini for iOS and for Windows Phone, it reckons it has all major bases covered.

“Users are demanding ad blockers because of the better browsing experience it offers,” said Opera’s senior vice president for mobile browsers, Nuno Sitima, in a statement.

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“Opera users can speed up their mobile surfing, skip extra data charges and stretch their Internet packages even further by blocking in the browser intrusive and data-wasting ads and heavy tracking.”

The company claims its inbuilt ad-blocking feature makes for faster loading times than with third-party plugins such as AdBlock Plus. Opera has long been focused on reducing the amount of data used when loading a page—its Mini browser, which made its name in emerging markets, also has compression features that achieve this.

Online advertising is generally what makes it possible for publishers to deliver free content, though it does have its downsides, such as increasing the amount of data in a webpage, and building detailed profiles of people’s web-surfing habits. Some ads also provide a path for malware to infect the user’s device.

New research from Reuters shows that ad-blocking rates are increasing, ranging from 10 percent in Japan to 38 percent in Poland. News sites are particularly hard-hit by the development, which is largely down to users under the age of 35.

For more on ad-blocking, watch our video.

The shift towards blocking ads is leading many publishers to adopt a “sponsored content” model, where what is essentially advertising is given the same look and feel as editorial content.

In some cases such as that of City AM in the U.K., publishers are going so far as to let advertisers post directly to the website, using the same mechanisms as editorial staff use. Ad-blockers are unlikely to be able to distinguish the two kinds of content.

The British mobile operator Three this week conducted a trial of network-level ad-blocking, although—unlike blocking ads on users’ devices—this is actually forbidden under new EU net neutrality rules.