1Blocker 4.0 adds in-app tracker blocking with its new firewall feature
I used 1Blocker to block ads from crowded websites for years. No ad blocker is perfect. Some ads are still showing and blockers can sometimes interfere with a website’s functionality, but of all the ones I’ve tried, 1Blocker strikes the best balance. The app is also available on all Apple platforms, making it easy to block intrusive ads but allow them on sites where they don’t spoil the reading experience.
1Blocker, which I’ve covered several times in the past on MacStories, was the first iOS app I know of to bundle multiple content blocking rule sets to offer more filters than iOS would otherwise allow. The system also allows 1Blocker to filter more than just advertising, such as social media widgets, comments, and adult site.
Today, 1Blocker has further expanded its coverage with a feature called Firewall. If you’ve read Federico’s in-depth story on iOS and iPadOS 14.5, you know the transparency of app tracking. It is the functionality of the operating system that forces apps to ask for permission before tracking your activity across multiple apps and websites. The firewall goes even further by automatically blocking trackers, even though trackers are what are called proprietary trackers because they do not correlate your data with data collected by other companies. It’s an extra layer of protection between you and the data brokers.
I’ve been using Firewall for a few weeks now, and it works seamlessly in the background. I didn’t notice any slowing down of my devices or any issues with apps or websites that this might have caused. In fact, the only thing I noticed is that it blocks Apple News ads. The firewall doesn’t specifically target ads, but by blocking the tracker that Apple News uses for its ad network, the feature also blocks ads, which is good because ads in News are repetitive.
1Blocker does a good job of guiding users through the firewall setup, which requires a local VPN profile to run on your device. This allows the app to run a network extension that monitors traffic between your device and the internet, blocking any trackers that attempt to transmit data. All of this happens in the background, locally on your device.
Once you go through this process, use a few apps and go back to the 1Blocker Firewall tab, you will see a long list of trackers that have been blocked. Some that I recognize as ad-related trackers, others are analytics packages added by developers to see how their apps are being used and to collect crash data, and many I don’t recognize at all. According to 1Blocker, they can detect over 9,200 trackers using open-source filters.
The main limitation of 1Blocker’s new firewall feature is that iOS only allows one VPN at a time. Therefore, if you regularly use another VPN service to protect your internet traffic, you will not be able to do so and run 1Blocker’s firewall at the same time. I have used a VPN when connecting to public WiFi networks in the past, but this has been rare during the pandemic, so for now I have been happy to run the firewall continuously on my iOS devices, while I’m at home. Still, it’s worth keeping in mind if you’re a heavy VPN user.
I really like what 1Blocker has done with this update. Managing the ads and other items that appear on websites has been its strong suit for a long time, but Firewall adds a new dimension to the utility of the app which is both simple to use and offers real benefits that you can see. in the long list of trackers it blocks. when you use your devices.
1Blocker 4.0 is a universal purchase on all Apple platforms which can be downloaded for free to try out a Safari ad blocking filter and app allow list. To unlock the remaining Safari filters and firewall, 1Blocker offers a subscription with a two-week free trial for $ 2.99 per month or $ 14.99 per year. There is also a lifetime purchase option and the app supports family sharing.