TMO’s Big iOS 9 Content Blocker FAQ

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Apple's Content Blocker feature is probably the most controversial addition to to iOS 9, and it also has the potential to be a great asset for mobile Web browsing if it's used responsibly. What are content blockers, and what's the right way to use them, you ask? Read on to find out.

What are Content Blockers?

Content Blockers filter what comes from online servers into your Web browser. That can include certain types of code, online trackers, Web cookies, images, and even complete sites.

No content blockers (left), and content blockers in action (right)No content blockers (left), and content blockers in action (right)

Most people equate ad blockers with content blockers because they are—for practical purposes—pretty much the same. The code content blockers keep out of your browser is typically what displays ads in pages and as pop-up or pop-under content, but they aren't limited to just advertising-related code.

Why Do People Use Content Blockers?

For some people, it's all about improving page loading performance. Many sites load a lot of content and code that isn't necessary to actually display a site, but instead supports under the hood stuff like tracking how you use a specific site, what you're looking at, the searches you perform, and where you go when you leave for a different site. When that content gets blocked, sites load substantially faster.

A lot of that extra stuff drags down site loading times and hurts overall site performance. It also eats into your data cap if you're surfing the Web from your smartphone.

For some people, it's all about privacy. They don't want advertisers to be privy to their browsing habits or collecting information they feel should be private.

Some people use content blockers because they don't want to see ads on websites. Sometimes it's because those ads are intrusive and other times it's because they feel paying for the content the see isn't their responsibility.

How do Content Blockers work in iOS 9?

Apple added content blocker support for Mobile Safari in iOS 9, but you'll have to download apps that do the actual filtering part. Once installed, go to Settings > Safari > Content Blockers to turn them on. If the installed content blockers include their own settings, you'll have to hop into their accompanying app to change those.

Mobile Safari's content blocker settingsMobile Safari's content blocker settings

When a content blocker app is enabled, it watches your Internet traffic and automatically blocks anything it deems unacceptable, like trackers and code that isn't needed for site functionality.

Do Content Blockers Work on All iOS 9-Compatible Devices?

In a word, nope. iOS 9's Content Blocker feature requires a 64-bit processor, so that means an iPhone 5s or newer, iPad mini 2 or newer, iPad Air or iPad Air 2, or at least a 5th generation iPod touch. Sorry, iPhone 5c owners, you're out of luck.

Content Blockers will also work on the soon to be released iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus, as well as the iPad Pro.

Next up: Finding content blocker apps, and the ad blocker controversy

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Jeff said: ‘Should I Use Content Blockers?
Whether or not to use content blockers is a personal choice. Blocking ads cuts into the potential revenue publishers use to keep their sites online, and without money coming in it gets hard to pay the bills.

The trick for publishers is to find a balance that works for them and viewers. TMO’s Dave Hamilton wants your opinion on that, so let him know.’

I’m sorry my opinion about this important subject is so ignorant & uninformed, but if you really want it here it is:

If (i.e., “iff”) Apple does in fact provide website publishers an equivalent/viable alternative to Google’s AdSense revenue-harvesting toolbox, then I would say everyone would ultimately benefit by all eligible iOS users blocking all AdSense on the entire Internet, glass strangling/suffocating to death all web publishers who refuse to abandon AdSense revenue & switch to Apple’s alternative (in exactly the same way that the whole Internet is now at last benefiting from Apple’s revolutionary boycott of Flash).


It’s beyond ironic to me that Google, one of the absolute stars of the early web has done more than nearly any other company to destroy it as time has gone by. I don’t feel guilty blocking them, and it would be terrific if all of this resulted in their marketshare dwindling. I do sympathize with the folks that may be losing money they legitimately need to operate, but all of this got way out of hand long ago, I think of our current concerns as more of a readjustment than anything else. I know there’s a more balanced middle ground that could work for and benefit everyone rather than just benefitting Google (or Alphabet, or whatever the hey they are calling themselves now).

Lee Dronick

the whole Internet is now at last benefiting from Apple’s revolutionary boycott of Flash

There are still too many big name websites serving up Flash video.


It goes without saying, I guess, but there would be little need for content blockers if websites were to put their content out there in a responsible manner. Kudos to TMO. I just jumped from to because the former was absolutely crushing my laptop’s CPU. I was well over 100% CPU usage for Safari Web Content and Safari (the app). Fans whirring, lap burning. It’s even worse on Firefox and Chrome. Your website is running a respectable 17 and 16% for web content and app. The fan is quiet now and I don’t feel like my legs will get burned. Also Ghostery lists about 15 items instead of close to 40 for MacWorld’s website. I would guess that my battery is getting hammered pretty badly when the website uses so much of my laptop’s CPU.


Thank You. This will help a lot of people.


“There are still too many big name websites serving up Flash video.”

Funny, I don’t notice any at all. I guess that’s because I don’t have Flash installed smile


A lot of sites HAVE Flash but if it isn’t installed on your system they default to another media. The big exception I’ve run into is the BBC World Service. They are Flash and only Flash. Unless of course you go there with an iOS device when they have HTML5.

It’s annoying as ****


geo: quite agree - annoying as ****

And especially so since they’ve just done a major revamp of their site.

Lee Dronick

Vpndev, I notice the placeholder where the video is, a missing plugin warning. These are major news websites and such, NOAA which is gubermint website uses Flash for the weather radar animations. If I go to the site on my iPad then I am served a compatible video format. I tried the trick of changing the user agent, but it rarely works. I send feedback to the webmaster and tell them it is way past time to dump Flash, more people need to do that.


Jeff, would you consider checking out TunnelBear’s ad blocker called BlockBear for us ? I’m looking for one but haven’t been able to decide which one works the best….

Pityi Palko

Eluo blocker is a great content blocker example:

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