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July 31, 2017

Google’s ad blocker found in Chrome dev release ahead of 2018 launch

by John_A

Why it matters to you

Chrome is the world’s biggest browser, and soon it will come with a built-in ad blocker — albeit one based on Google’s guidelines.

We’ve known for some time that Google is planning an ad blocker, to be released in all versions of its Chrome browser. While it’s not expected to launch until 2018, we’re getting our first look at it early thanks to the latest developer build of Chrome on Android, via the Canary app.

The ad blocker was discovered by German-language Caschys Blog. In Canary, it takes the form of a toggle in preferences, though it’s switched off by default. Not all Canary users have received the setting at this time, so it appears to be a server-side update.

Part of the reason Google is waiting until the new year to launch its ad blocker is to give web developers some time to prepare. Chrome’s native solution won’t block all ads indiscriminately — only those ads that don’t comply with Google’s new guidelines that denote “intrusive” ads. That includes pop-ups (which Chrome already blocks), autoplay videos, and timed ads that lock away content behind a countdown.

The guidelines were developed in partnership with the Coalition for Better Ads, which includes other big names such as Facebook, News Corp., and Thomson Reuters.

Google’s primary source of revenue is ads, so it may seem counterproductive for the company to build a blocker into the world’s most widely used desktop and mobile browser. The thought process is that if Google can do away with the kinds of ads users really can’t stand, they won’t have as much motivation to install a third-party blocker, and can simply rely on Chrome’s.

If you do opt to continue to use a third-party blocker, however, Google is developing a new tool for sites that asks users to disable them, or pay a fee for ad-free access.

In recent months, developers of other major mobile web browsers, like Apple and Samsung, have embraced support for ad blocker plugins, while Google has prepared its own built-in solution. The ability to download and run Samsung’s Internet app was opened up to non-Samsung devices around the same time, making it a popular choice for mobile Chrome users frustrated with the browser’s lack of compatibility with third-party blockers.

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