Adblock Plus made itself famous by being a fantastic browser extension that helped users block annoying ads. It was easy to download, install, and use. Unfortunately, that's not the case with Adblock Plus' new Android app. After spending months in beta, Adblock Plus finally reached gold today but perhaps its developer pulled the trigger too quickly.
Looking at its features, Adblock Plus does have plenty of desirable features. It doesn't require root, it works on older Android devices, and has a simple interface. Yet for every positive quality, Adblock Plus provides a caveat. Let's see what those caveats are.
The developer wanted to create an app that didn't require root permissions to block ads and they've achieved that. Unfortunately, non-rooted phones will only be able to block ads over Wi-Fi. Using your phone with mobile data will not allow Adblock Plus to block ads. If you do have root, you will be able to block ads on any type of data connection.
If you're using a device that runs Android 3.1 and higher, set up is extremely simple. Just install the app, choose a filtering list and you're good to go. If you're running an Android device with 3.0 or lower, you'll have to manually configure your proxy. Check out Adblock's site on how to do this.
Some users may be wary of any type of proxy as it implies that your web traffic is going to be sent through Adblock's servers. These users can rest easy because this isn't actually what happens with the proxy. The proxy is used locally on your device to help filter ad traffic before it gets to your phone. No information is sent to Adblock.
I found Adblock Plus frustrating to use. First of all, the app requires a notification to be persistent in the notification shade. I like having a clean, minimalist notification shade and the icon irked me constantly. There is a legitimate reason for it to be there though, as Adblock Plus uses the notification to keep the application alive instead of being killed by the operating system.
More disappointingly, Adblock Plus worked sporadically. When it works, it works well, blocking ads system wide. Ads disappeared in apps and in the browser. But when it Adblock Plus failed, it did so epically. I found my phone would experience "network issues" repeatedly as Adblock Plus tried refreshing the proxy. This left my phone unusable for several minutes until it sorted itself out.
Even worse, Adblock Plus seems to have a detrimental effect on battery life. Users have reported noticing an increase in battery consumption, which is not surprising since the app needs to be constantly running in the background.
I wanted to love Adblock Plus since I'm a huge fan of the browser extension. There's no doubt that Adblock Plus will improve in future releases but at the time of this writing, I just can't recommend it. If you have a rooted phone, AdFree Android offers a much better experience.