An interesting take, it might even be true.
Posted on 2013-03-16, 65 comments, 153 +1's, imported from Google+/Chainfire

NOTICE: This content was originally posted to Google+, then imported here. Some formatting may be lost, links may be dead, and images may be missing.

Just to clarify, I didn't write this, Chris Pick did. Not sure why half the commenters think I wrote this :)

Reshared from

There sure has been a lot of hoopla around this #AdBlock  and +Google Play removing them from the play store.. But I wanted to give a view from a 3rd party developer who WAS affected by AdBlock (in a negative manner) :

see ( )..

I don't use ad block, and am not really bothered by advertisements. But I am a developer of an app on the market, which has our users log in and play a game. We try to secure our data as much as possible, and step one for that is using SSL for all our data transmission. 

On February 12th of last month, we got a couple support emails from a user of our app that they were no longer able to log in via cellular data.. But they were able to log in when on wifi. I thought this quite strange, and wondered if there was some strange routing issue from overseas to our data center.. 

I had him do a few things like visiting our website, which had no issues doing from mobile.. So I decided to package up a debug build of our app, add some additional logging to try and get to the bottom of the issue. One of the debugs prints out to the logs, the full response back that we get when doing a https connection. The https connection was not 'failing' but the data coming back was not getting parsed.. After getting the logs back, and spending several hours going back and forth helping the end user reproduce this, going over the logs etc.. I saw that there was some proxy (going from memory on the name - pretty sure it was squid or something similar) that was returning a response, basically saying that https was not configured for the proxy. I asked the user if they had any anti-virus/ad blocking installed, and they responded, they had AdBlock installed. They went ahead and disabled it (not sure if they uninstalled it), and poof, it worked.. The user could log into our servers again..

When I heard Google removed some apps which were ad blocking, I was pretty happy to hear the news, and a bit torn.. Like most people out there, we like the Play store to be the wild west.. We don't have to get our apps approved, and have lengthy waits to have updates show up.. We just publish and we are done! I have been doing Android development since 1.0 and have seen all kinds of changes. Some I agree with, others I don't.. I have to think we lost a little bit of the wild west.. But then again.. Maybe the Sheriff just showed up to try and keep the riff-raff to a minimum. 

In the case of AdBlock Plus. I saw a post from someone in one of my circles linking to their G+ page.. I went there and left them a comment about how it (AdBlock Plus) broke our user experience. They basically responded, by saying that they have a bug, and they were going to be rolling out a fix in 2-3 weeks.

THIS is why Google removed them (IMHO).. They have had a bug in their software for at LEAST one month. They know about the bug, and still were not planning on rolling out an update for 2-3 more weeks.. That is just not playing nice in the Google Sandbox. 

The whole point about the self governance in the Play store was that apps which performed negatively (used too much cpu/battery,  deleted / changed / stole contacts, sent spam messages, sent expensive texts), would be self governed by people giving the bad apps 1* ratings. 

After all, apps are not supposed to be able to affect other apps in a negative manner outside the scope of the public APIs which Google has provided, documented, and done numerous presentations/blog posts about. 

For the most part, it is pretty tough for one app to screw up another app, without giving itself away.. (think notification advertisements where you can now check app-info and see which app posted the advertisement -- these apps bother me, are usually installed by my kids when I am not looking, and usually get uninstalled, and sometimes a 1 review).. But these ad-blockers using proxies, and breaking other 3rd party apps ended up giving THOSE apps the 1 rating. This undermines almost all the self governance of the Play store..

Now, one other note on this whole proxy thing.. Most users don't know WHAT a proxy is, or what it does. ( ) has instructions on how to set one up.. But does not really describe what it is/does. (other than blocks your ads)..

What it does do, it gives AdBlock Plus, the ability to intercept, read, and take ANY data that you send over the internet. Not saying that they do this. But another rouge developer 'could' develop a legit ad blocking app with a proxy, and send copies of all the data passing back and forth through the proxy to their own servers, and they could mine it for contacts, passwords, bank account information etc. etc. etc.

THIS is also why IMHO Google did this.. For security..

Now.. To disprove why Google did not do it for the Advertising Revenue. 

Google, and other advertising networks make money from their Ads being shown to users. If the requests don't make it to them, they are not making as much money (but then again they are not really loosing money either - depending on your point of view).. 

SOLUTION For developers to make AdBlock irrelevant. 

A developer, such as myself, could have the option (which we did) to release our app with no advertisements at all (we were passionate about not using advertisements in our app). And we wanted to give it away.. We felt we could monetize in other manners. 

Had I been a developer which wanted to get paid for my app, by showing advertisements, I have a simple solution to people who were freeloading. If I really wanted to make my advertisement supported version, only available to those who actually showed advertisements (i.e. paid me for my app by being subjected to advertisements).. All I would need to do is have a way to query that my advertisements were actually getting shown. If they were getting blocked due to an AdBlocker, then I could limit the functionality of my app, or just close and let the user know that my app is advertising supported. They can buy the ad-free version from Play store, or continue to use the one with Advertising built in, but they need to disable the ad blocker to do so. 

One last thing I saw a few people saying that other rouge apps could delete contacts, steal this, suck cpu/battery, do that.. yes they could, they are probably lower profile apps which do it, and there are probably cases where Google has removed them from the Play store. Why did we not hear about them? Because they probably were trying to be bad Android Citizens, and did not want to bring attention to the fact they were trying to do so. 

Hopefully this gave a little bit different answer to why Google may have removed the app from the play store.. 

Google Takes the Dark Path, Censors AdBlock Plus on Android

eric peacock commented on 2013-03-16 at 01:02:

What a good write up.

Perhaps they could just release a Chrome for mobile extension...

Anthony Stewart commented on 2013-03-16 at 01:03:

Brilliantly put chainfire

Rene Medina commented on 2013-03-16 at 01:10:


Richard Buchman commented on 2013-03-16 at 01:11:

Clear, concise and Relevant!!! Thanks for the clear explanation.. I appreciate the fact that you gave the facts within the various contexts and perspectives.

Matthew Garbett commented on 2013-03-16 at 01:15:

Honestly I have no problem with Google removing ad blocking apps from the app store as it probably violates some sort of policy. It's basically causing developers not to be able to make money.

Sean Graham commented on 2013-03-16 at 01:15:

Very well written argument, gives a logical reason for the opposing side

zé belchior commented on 2013-03-16 at 01:18:

Tks on the info,very good work by Chris Pick.

Michael Tumulty commented on 2013-03-16 at 02:41:

I can't speak to the demonizing of +Google for removing +Adblock Plus from the +Google Play store so I'm not going to try. 

What I can say is that I recognize this as a move not so much in the overall interest of +Google but rather in the interest of developers everywhere. I am of the opinion that blocking ads in an advertisement subsidized app is akin to piracy and should be treated as such. I don't like advertisements any more than anybody else. Since the price of apps in the Play Store are significantly cheaper than Apples own equivalent app store, I have no problem paying for an ad-free version of an app that I desire.

I know how some people can really be "pro-piracy" and that's sad. Stop being a cheap, lecherous, SOB and just buy the darned pro version.

Warren Day commented on 2013-03-16 at 03:27:

Good write up and good work by Google

Hans Vanpée commented on 2013-03-16 at 04:17:

That's a very interesting take on this matter. Thanks for the write up.

darkneon2002 commented on 2013-03-16 at 06:43:

Good explained and thank you for developing apps

Daniel Gilliland commented on 2013-03-16 at 06:44:

+Michael Tumulty blocking ads isn't comparable to piracy. I'm sorry you feel that way.

Martin Grønholdt commented on 2013-03-16 at 07:11:

+Daniel Gilliland it is my understanding that someone loses money, when you block the ads. In that way blocking ads resembles piracy.

Hamish Robinson commented on 2013-03-16 at 07:43:

Should google not block all crap android phone from accessing the play store because they cause apps to run slowly therefore the app receives a 1 star from frustrated users then?

Hans Vanpée commented on 2013-03-16 at 07:45:

Many developers use add sponsoring as their business model. If you use their software you agree with this model. The advantage for the user is that he doesn't have to pay. This is the deal you make with the developer. Massive add blocking will undermine this business model and free apps will disappear. It's a choice to make.

Hamish Robinson commented on 2013-03-16 at 07:49:

Actually should google not remove the terminal app from the playstore too, because i could run commands that could disrupt other apps? Hell resolve the root explorer app because it allows me to edit the hosts file too easily, hell why not remove any root required app as it may allow you to screw up another app?

Bogdan Sladaru commented on 2013-03-16 at 09:17:

I use DroidWall and allow internet access only for those apps I know need it. It's not the best thing, but I don't want to allow each app access the internet when and how they want.

I think the best approach would be for Google to add a special service, with special rights, for advertisements, and allow only registered IPs go through that service. Is this a way to control the ads? Yes, it is, but honestly I trust Google more (they already have my datas...) than some small developer who made a game and who might be honest or not. And they could do this service open to other advertisers, e.g. any advertiser could supply the IP ranges they use and the service would only check if they are whitelisted.

Ferhat Bülbül commented on 2013-03-16 at 09:31:

I'm using AdAway and will continue using because if some people use us like cash in pocket, mean a lot for me. I pay for good app like chainfire's not for all. Sorry but this is not freedom. If someone decide something for me i do not accept that. Good one always will be graded. 

Hanspeter Holzer commented on 2013-03-16 at 10:53:

This write up does completely ignore one fact: the developers have no control whatsoever over the implemented ad network.

It might be super reputable in one country, and display a lot of scam ads in the other.

And that's exactly what happened here in Italy.

One-click 80 Euro subscriptions? I categorize this as Malware and will block everything with my firewall.

If someone categorises this as piracy, fine.

I've payed for every app where it was possible.

Jason Newman commented on 2013-03-16 at 11:34:

I totally support all Android development but some Android apps do not have paid versions or ad-free versions, if they had I would pay for them because I would never click on an in application ad so that's why I've blocked them in the past. Over the last few years since I've been using Android I have put my money were my month is and bought many applications but I find ads invasive and as I said not all applications offer an ad-free alternative...

Ard van Breemen commented on 2013-03-16 at 12:40:

I think a proxy should be build into android. The app should mention in the manifest to which sites it connect, or what ports and protocols it uses.

Jason Gurd commented on 2013-03-16 at 13:31:

I could understand if this was a bad thing in the infancy of the Google Market when the ads on apps were twice the size and more annoying then they are now. Since the need for the AdBlock apps developers have toned down the size and locations so they are noticeable but tolerable at the same time. 

Joe Philipps commented on 2013-03-16 at 13:51:

I've often wondered why programmers weren't "serious" about ads, in the sense (mentioned) of if the ad doesn't display for whatever reason, the app doesn't work.

Jannis commented on 2013-03-16 at 13:58:

First of all, for all that didn't know: You can still get AdAway and other Free Open Source Software from F-Droid:

I think it's a shame that the write-up totally misses that not only AdBlock Plus but all ad-blocking apps got removed. Even those that did not use a proxy by default but modified the hosts file (like AdAway does). Those do not interfere with other apps unless those explicitly rely on being able to connect to the ad server. AdAway does not show malicious behaviour and is not able to track your usage. In fact, as it's FOSS, if it actually was doing this the community would be able to make a clean fork of the project.

So it's definitely not about protecting users but about protecting the advertisers/developers.

Now, I personally do not use apps which rely on advertisements. If I like an app, I'll buy that app. IMHO, ads are a no-go for monetizing your software, as there are almost always some privacy concerns on the side of the user. That and the possibility of scam ads, like +Hanspeter Holzer mentioned.

Let me point out another flaw in the reasoning against adblockers: I am able to avoid ad-based apps by buying premium versions but I can not avoid ads while browsing the web. I simply can not know if a website will show ads without opening that website. Sadly, this point seems to be totally ignored in the discussion. I need something like AdAway to block unwanted web ads:

Here in Europe, unlimited data plans are almost impossible to get and fast mobile internet isn't available anywhere. Ads slow down web browsing and unnecessarily use up of the user's limited bandwidth; therefore degrading user experience and directly hurting the user. In addition, most web ads aren't tested on mobile devices and take up more space than the viewport has to offer; always aligning their position at the center of the viewport, making it impossible to close them as the small 'x' is out of reach.

Everyone is speaking about the app developers getting hurt but the user should have the right to protect his browsing experience.

Jannis commented on 2013-03-16 at 14:12:

+Chris Pick

I haven't seen your post before writing my wall-of-text; In that case it's justified to remove AdBlock Plus from Google Play as it's clearly malfunctioning.

But that still does not explain why they removed AdAway which is not able to interfere with other apps in any way (other than blocking ads, of course). That move can only be meant to protect the advertisers and not the users.

Hanspeter Holzer commented on 2013-03-16 at 14:15:

+Jannis Haase I couldn't agree more...

Sinan Çetinkaya commented on 2013-03-16 at 15:01:

Google is a company that makes money from ads. What were you expecting?

Jason Newman commented on 2013-03-16 at 15:12:

+Jannis Haase If Adaway doesn't affect other apps, can you tell me why it IS interfering with the +NVision application. I've been having problems with the +NVision app for some time, it wouldn't play videos and after reading +Chris Pick well written write up I disabled Adaway.... What do you know, videos now play in the +NVision app....

Jannis commented on 2013-03-16 at 15:49:

+Jason Newman

There might be two reason for that. Either NVision is actively checking whether or not ads are successfully displayed and intentionally does not show the videos if they aren't OR the videos themselves are located on a server whose address is blocked by at least one of AdAway's sources of ad-providing servers.

However AdAway does not directly interfere with anything as it is merely a tool to edit a file that exists on any system which can be used to redirect specific urls or block them all together.

AdAway itself does not run in the background or work as a proxy.

Justin V commented on 2013-03-16 at 15:56:

I admittedly block ads, but I also buy the premium version of an app if I like it. The proxy method is complex and unnessesary, IMO, so I do it with a host file, have been for years. No, I won't change that.

Jason Gurd commented on 2013-03-16 at 16:38:

+Chris Pick what is your app?

Ian church commented on 2013-03-16 at 17:42:

Most of my apps are paid versions, but I still use adaway and can't see that changing anytime soon.

I have purchased all of chainfires apps as a thank you for his easy root methods even though I only really use mobile odin ( awesome app) and supersu.

What about the devs who still push adds even though you've paid for their app? Surely they have a case to answer for?

Daniel Gilliland commented on 2013-03-16 at 17:56:

+Martin Grønholdt Piracy is stealing. Stealing is wrong. Blocking an advertisement is not stealing. Losing money is not the same as having money STOLEN from you. Anyone who tries to argue otherwise will fail publicly. Sooooooo, again, sorry you feel that way.

Jason Newman commented on 2013-03-16 at 18:02:

Thank +Jannis Haase makes more sense now.

On another note, does a developer get paid for displaying the ads or when an ad is clicked?

I was under the impression the ad had to be clicked for a developer to get paid...

Tony Sarju commented on 2013-03-16 at 19:18:

Google has not only removed Ad Block Plus but all ad blocking apps including ones such as AdAway. AdAway modifies the host file on the device the same as you would on a Linux or Windows box and thus does not utilize a proxy. So in that regard, I don't think your theory completely fits. 

Charles Barclay commented on 2013-03-16 at 19:26:

Good article chain fire I agree with everything you said I don't use ad blockers either. if I don't want ads I pay for the paid version. That way it helps the development of the app.and believe me I've spent a lot of money on them.

Michael Tumulty commented on 2013-03-16 at 21:47:

+Daniel Gilliland blocking ads in apps that are subsidized by those very same ads is piracy. I'm sorry you can't tell the difference.

Jason Newman commented on 2013-03-16 at 21:53:

But if a user would never click those ads, the developer won't get paid anyway so what's the harm. Not all adopts have an ad free but all apps should have an ad free version.

Daniel Gilliland commented on 2013-03-16 at 21:59:

+Michael Tumulty I can tell the difference, and that's where your problem lies. You can't blame the consumer if your business model fails to produce what you want. Sorry 'bout your luck.

Michael Tumulty commented on 2013-03-16 at 22:04:

Does anybody even remember the real reason ad blocking software was created? How we used to be bombarded with intrusive full-screen pop-up ads in "ye olden Internet days"? Making money online has never been simple and there are lots of costs associated with creating content. hosting a site to represent it, and distributing it.

There is no free lunch. If you think everything should be free, try creating something first and then see how you feel. All I see are a bunch of spoiled crybabies whining over losing something that stole the bread right out of the mouths of developers.

Grow up.

Daniel Gilliland commented on 2013-03-17 at 01:00:

All I hear is crying developers stewing over lost money. Adapt or get out. Good job looking like a cry baby.

Michael Tumulty commented on 2013-03-17 at 02:58:

All I hear are people with poor judgement trying to rationalize bad behavior.

Martin Zeitler commented on 2013-03-17 at 13:24:

If they censor indeed, they lost my sympathy. Besides, who needs an AdBlocker anyway? local DNS is nice to get rid of any unwanted product information and push ads. Really hope they not turn Apple market-wise.

Martin Zeitler commented on 2013-03-17 at 13:32:

Smells like corruption ... because they generate revenue by leads... and AdBlockers are against the interests of the investors (which want you to click the ad and place your order).

Michael Tumulty commented on 2013-03-17 at 20:46:

Just so we're clear +Chris Pick I completely understood the point of your OP and the message you're trying to get across. I have nothing against blocking ads (in browsers, NOT apps) especially outrageously intrusive ones that take up your entire screen or redirect you against your will. One app shouldn't break the functionality of another, period. However in the +Google Play ecosystem, it was set up from day one that if a developer chose to use ads then they would be unobtrusive and we agreed to this policy the very moment we became a part of +Android.

I'm sorry +Eric MORAND I have been reading all of the comments thoroughly and I'm sorry if the app you've chosen doesn't have a paid equivalent. It sounds like the developer has chosen not to offer one and instead chose to get their revenue (if any) from ads. You can use the app the way it is, don't use it at all and find an alternative app that fits your needs, or make your own. Rationalizing the use of an ad blocker in a free app which is subsidized by ads is just rationalizing a poor decision to make yourself feel better.

Marek Marcinkowski commented on 2013-03-18 at 04:04:

Wow I'm shocked that they did that. Its good that I kept the app on the phone.

AbdulAziz Syed commented on 2013-03-19 at 10:41:

can u tell me what is cf root download. . actually i want to upgrade my sg2 rooted  ics 4.0,3 to 4.1.2 without unrooting it . is it possible plzz help

Martin Zeitler commented on 2013-03-19 at 15:03:

+Michael Tumulty Only because I have some stupid phone doesn't mean that I agree to being penetrated by somewhat unless information (ads). As a developer I'm the one who's talking imperative - so what? It's just a problem for people who are not able to get rid of ads otherwise. Well well, how about the charges for the mobile data cause by transferring unless information? Skipping ads on 3G+ would be the least.

Probably they allow every crap app, so that the AV companies have something that makes their products worth buying. I've seen ad-blockers in paid AV software as well - which most likely are still available on Play. It's more than just obvious who's profits from the censorship. What some people consider politics is what others consider "causing a problem while having the solution ready".

andrew findlay commented on 2013-03-19 at 21:35:

What a fascinating debate. The morality argument from Devs versus the freedom argument from end users willing to pay. Both sides of the coin carry the same weight I believe. Google must protect the android ecosystem, they provide the stitching in the pants we all choose to wear, does removal of adblocker really mean we running about in skirts now? Am I talking poop? Did it really hurt u so bad to read this? I Havnt sold u anything so don't get your panties in bunch.

Daniel Gilliland commented on 2013-03-20 at 17:44:

Adfree from BigTinCan will work for rooted devices to block ads. I've been using it for about a year for those interested.

Justin Foster commented on 2013-03-24 at 22:37:

I can understand banning or removing ad blockers but what about apps that have no paid version? Pop ups get pretty annoying.

Peter Coverley commented on 2013-03-25 at 16:27:

Well done. Thanks for explaining it so well.

Cosmin Nahaiciuc commented on 2013-04-02 at 19:44:

I'm somewhat supporting your views but like Justin previously mentioned, all apps that are currently ONLY ad-supported, should then offer SEPARATE paid versions. The bump that I see here is with developers offering ad-free versions only through donations, as an upgrade/unlock, outside Google Play. The upgrade/unlock may or may not work with another phone, after a firmware upgrade, or for future versions. Even if it does, the dev. is to be contacted again because the unlock email has long been deleted, and then they may or may not respond, or they may or may have not kept your record, etc, etc - and that in turn may potentially turn the users back onto looking (again) for alternatives.

Cosmin Nahaiciuc commented on 2013-04-02 at 20:16:

+Chris Pick "Then go ahead and write it yourself and sell it" - not exactly the most viable approach for the 99.9% of the users, don't you think? After all, Google Play (Apple Store, Window Store, etc) were all designed for the 99.9%, no?

Justin Foster commented on 2013-04-02 at 21:10:

+Chris Pick I see your point, but I must say that it's pretty ridiculous too. I mean, are you 101% serious? First of all, if an app is truly "that valuable" it's not SIMPLE to just write your own code. One, you'll be called a jock. Two, it'll be extremely difficult if the app is TRULY VALUABLE, and not just some homemade app.

Also, there are devs who simply IGNORE requests for a paid version. They simply don't bother or don't consider it worth it, the latter of which is understandable. I'm in no way justifying ad-blocking, but your example is pretty ridiculous. In fact, I could use an example just as outlandish:

So this customer walks into a Toyota dealership and really likes the 2014 Corolla. Unfortunately, the car's seats are too uncomfortable. She really doesn't want to get an alternative car, as that model suits her needs perfectly. Seeing and understanding her frustration, the salesman serving her says, "Well, if you don't like it just build your own." The woman is outraged and leaves the dealership, never to return.

I'm just saying, ads are often cumbersome, especially on lower end devices with less RAM and smaller screens.

Developers have every right to continue their ads through ad support if the find that more profitable or more convenient, but the user should have some alternative when they are willing to buy a paid-version, but this option is prohibited or neglected.

Justin Foster commented on 2013-04-03 at 03:07:

+Chris Pick That's true. I guess the ads thing is more so cumbersome and laggy for lower end devices with smaller screens on RAM intensive games and such where ads block touch areas and slow down the gameplay.

Peter Coverley commented on 2013-04-03 at 07:41:

Thanks for the explanation Chris Pick, excellent. Well done Chainfire.

Cosmin Nahaiciuc commented on 2013-04-03 at 19:21:

+Chris Pick Using your analogy and applying it to the topic, what you are actually saying Chris, is "Go BUILD your own Honda". There are just as many drivers out there who could build their own custom cars, as phone users capable of building their own apps. While I know what you're trying to say, the suggestion is utopic!

Justin Foster commented on 2013-04-03 at 22:24:

Well, the majority of apps many people install are not "do without." That's the whole point of variety on the market.

Justin Foster commented on 2013-04-03 at 22:35:

I can name a few with pretty poor alternatives: Scrabble, Diversion, Zedge, YouTube (haha does that count?), memory's getting vague xD

Justin Foster commented on 2013-04-03 at 23:24:

Yea, I feel u. That's why I said I can understand devs choosing ad support if it's more profitable. I just dislike ads, xD

James Karaganis commented on 2013-05-10 at 15:42:

Personally, I refuse to use any ad-supported applications. I see no reason to waste the limited resources of my device on advertising that I have absolutely zero interest in receiving. I understand that app developers want a continuous revenue stream, but I am not willing to provide it to them in that fashion.

Now, I use no ad-blocking software at all: I use either free (non-ad-supported) apps or (preferably) pay outright for the software I need. Advertising in a desktop environment is one thing: I mean, I use a wide variety of Google products there on a daily basis. It's a different matter entirely on a device with a small screen and a limited data plan.

Justin Foster commented on 2013-05-10 at 20:14:

@JamesKaraganis I totally agree man. It's not cool at all. Consequently, I think the market will slowly move towards app subscriptions. Hope not though

Gareth Pritchard commented on 2013-05-17 at 13:20:

Fully agree, I frequently pay for apps. the only reason I've ever used ad blocking is for those apps that don't have an ad free version. I don't want ads, I don't find them useful and I never buy anything as a result of an ad, so by me blocking them, nobody is losing. however but not offering an ad free paid version, the developers are conning themselves out of money.

Free and Ad supported should be categorized separately as are free and paid. I steer well clear of "adware" on my PC, why should I think any differently about my phone.

Justin Foster commented on 2013-05-17 at 23:37:

^~~---~~^ exactly

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