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Microsoft’s Mobile Browsers Join the Battle Against Annoying Ads

June 25, 2018, 11:45 AM UTC

Microsoft (MSFT) is letting mobile users of its Edge browser automatically block ads using the Adblock Plus service, without the need for adding an extension to the browser.

The company added the feature to its iOS Edge app, for Apple (AAPL) devices, on Friday. And The Verge reports that the same feature made its way into a beta version of Microsoft Edge for Android that rolled out to testers over the weekend.

These are hardly the first mobile browsers to help users avoid intrusive advertising—an understandable desire these days, as ads tend to have the ability to track people as well as show them things they might want to buy.

Google’s Chrome browser for Android offers its own inbuilt ad-blocking mechanism—though, as Google (GOOGL) is itself one of the biggest players in the online advertising industry, alongside Facebook (FB), some have expressed fears that the company’s own mechanism might unfairly offer advantages to its own services. Firefox and Opera block ads (the former only in its private-browsing mode) and Apple’s iOS Safari browser recently made it harder for ad networks to track users.

However, as The Verge rightly notes, Adblock Plus is a particularly aggressive ad blocker.

Adblock Plus, which has already been available as an Edge plugin for a couple years, is run by a German company called Eyeo that has a controversial business model. Adblock Plus uses a whitelist of “acceptable ads”—ads that don’t pop out or autoplay sound or otherwise annoy users—that it lets through its filter. However, it charges the biggest companies for their place on that whitelist.