Here’s Why Firefox for iOS Can’t Block Ads Like It Can on the Desktop

A headline feature on the desktop, Firefox for iOS is missing the ability to block third-party trackers and advertisers.

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Nov 12 2015, 6:39pm

Image: Johnathan Nightingale/Flickr

Firefox, Mozilla's popular open source web browser, is now available for iOS for the first time ever, but thanks to Apple's developer guidelines it's missing one feature killer feature from its desktop counterpart that would have truly set it apart from the likes of Safari and Google Chrome.

Tracking Protection, which debuted on the desktop beta version of Firefox in September, lets users block third-party advertising and tracking servers from following them around the internet. The general idea, Mozilla says, is to enhance users' privacy by ensuring their data and surfing habits aren't used to create "profiles about you across multiple sites." In practice this also means that users won't see many online ads, as seen below:

Whether or not blocking ads is healthy for online publishers is a separate matter, but there's no denying the performance benefits that come with blocking third-party trackers and advertisers.

Nick Nguyen, VP of Firefox, told Motherboard in an emailed statement that Apple's developer guidelines "do not allow us to incorporate their Content Blocking API into Private Browsing on Firefox for iOS." Nguyen did add, however, that Mozilla would "love" to incorporate this technology into Firefox if permitted.

Third-party content blockers such as Crystal can block many of these same third-party trackers and advertisers, but only when using Safari.

Apple did not immediately respond to Motherboard's request for comment.