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Google reverses decision to ban extensions as ad blockers on Play Store


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Google, which started blocking ad-blockers from the Play Store earlier this month, has stopped doing so after revising its policy, reports TechCrunch. The company will now allow ad-blockers that were built for Samsung’s browser to stay online.

Samsung recently rolled out adblocking on its browser for Android devices that would allow third-party developers to to build apps for blocking ads. However, some of the apps built for blocking ads were blocked from the Play Store citing that developers can’t release apps that interfere with “the devices, servers, networks, or other properties or services of any third-party including, but not limited to, Android users, Google or any mobile network operator.”

However, given that Samsung designed its browser in such a way as to allow other apps to make modifications to it, blocking those apps was a rather surprising move. The currently policy will allow apps to stay on the Play Store as long as they only integrate with one other app, through an authorized channel like an API.

System wide adblockers stay blocked: Note that this means apps like Adblock, which can block almost all ads across apps on mobile, are still not permitted. However, ad-blocking or not, extensions to any app will be permitted, as long as the source app supports it through an official API. However, they will still be limited to ‘interfering’ with the function of only one app, and ad blockers for separate browsers or programs will need to be separately downloaded.

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Also read: On Ad Blockers and the impact on Media

MediaNama’s take: As we have said before, with the availability of adblocking browsers on both iOS and Android, there are large (not good) implications for publishers, given that almost all of content and apps require ads for monetisation. This is one way Google is trying to ensure that ad blocking apps cannot reach out across apps and block ads without a developer’s knowledge.

This move makes sense for the company – it reported advertising revenue of $19.08 billion this quarter. It’s also great news for developers of Android apps knowing that the company will not officially endorse ad blocking on other apps. However, it’s bad news for users that want to block ads across apps. For this, they can either sideload ad blocking apps or use routers running Linux that offer code to block ads on their network.

Also read: Yahoo blocks users from accessing their email till they turn off ad blockers

Image source: Flickr user yuichirock under CC BY-NC 2.0

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