Apple seems to have started removing VPN-based ad blockers from the App Store that block ads in third-party apps. When the CTO of Future Mind — the company behind AdBlock, Weblock, and Admosphere — submitted an update for AdBlock for iOS, the update was rejected by the company.
When Koperski, the CTO of Future Mind, appealed the review, Apple informed him that it was longer allowing and accepting apps or app updates for VPN-based ad blockers which block ads in third-party apps. The company highlighted that the AdBlock app violates the section 4.2.1 of the App Store guidelines which disallows apps from using APIs and frameworks for purposes other than their intended use. Apple also told Koperski that his “app uses a VPN profile or root certificate to block ads or other content in a third-party app, which is not allowed on the App Store.”
Apple also made it clear that going forward only Safari ad blockers, support for which was first introduced in iOS 9, will be allowed on the App Store. Apple recommended Koperski to change the behaviour of his app to block content inside Safari. However, the CTO is not sure if such a move will go down well with existing users of the app.
AdBlock has been available in the App Store for over 5 years now, and this is the first time that Apple has raised an objection on its functionality. The app blocks all ads within third-party apps using a VPN technique.
There are plenty of other apps in the App Store that offer similar functionality as AdBlock and it is likely that they will end up meeting the same fate. This move from Apple is likely going to spell trouble for them and will likely mark their end or force them to revamp their functionality and act as a Safari content blocker.
As for AdBlock, the company is looking at either offering its users with a full VPN service, become a Safari content blocking plugin, or let the app be as it is.
Apple has recently become very strict in following the App Store guidelines. It has removed hundreds of thousands of clone and poor quality apps from the App Store over the last few months.
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