Adblock Plus, perhaps the most widely used ad-blocking software, released a beta app for Android on Wednesday that bakes its flagship ad-zapping feature into a mobile browser.
Hundreds of millions of Internet users employ an ad blocker to filter advertisements on their desktop browsers, but ad blocking is much less common on mobile operating systems like Android and iOS because most phones' built-in browsers don't accept plug-ins.
Now Adblock Plus has opened up a beta for an app that integrates its ad-blocking software and blacklists into the mobile version of Firefox. You can sign up for the beta for Android phones and tablets here, but you'll need a Google Plus account. It's not available from the Google Play app store yet.
Even if you don't mind ads, one big reason to run an ad blocker on your mobile phone is that it could save battery life. Adblock Plus told Business Insider that Adblock Plus could save up to 23 percent of a smartphone's battery life. The increased battery life could be because Adblock Plus prevents ads from using your phone's CPU or sending information home.
This isn't the first time Adblock Plus, made by the German company Eyeo, has tried to shield Android users from pop-ups and other intrusive advertising. It previously released an app called Adblock Plus for Android, which runs separately from your preferred browser, making it much more difficult to use. Eventually, Google kicked it out of the Google Play store.
"The Google Play store threw us out for 'interference with another service or product.' Doing anything on mobile that doesn’t appear in the major app stores is, unfortunately, pretty hard. We’re practically invisible to the vast majority of mobile users," wrote Felix Dahlke, Adblock Plus' lead developer.
There are no guarantees that Adblock Browser will gain Google's acceptance this time, although the company says that "we're currently waiting for Google to publish our app, and hope that this will happen within the next couple of hours."
At 9:50 a.m. EDT on Wednesday, Adblock said "Google's taking their sweet time" approving the app, and offered a direct download that doesn't require the Play Store.
Although there's no version of Firefox for iPhones and iPads, the company says an iOS version of Adblock Plus for is coming soon.
Ad blocking is never free of controversy. Some point out that websites rely on advertising to survive, and ad blockers strip them of a major source of revenue. Others note that even Adblock Plus is not free from back-room deals, allowing companies like Google to pay for the privilege of its ads not being blocked by default.
One key difference between desktop and mobile is that mobile applications are largely controlled by gatekeepers Apple and Google. Apple seems receptive to ad-blocking software on mobile, giving privacy suite Disconnect.me the green light to enter its App Store earlier this year. Google, an advertising-driven company, rejected the same app from the Play Store. We'll see if either company gives Adblock Plus a hard time.