Ads are everywhere. They are inescapable and sometimes, unavoidable too. If you like an app so much so that you use it all the time, then it might just be a good idea to pay the $1 or $2 and upgrade to an ‘Ad-free’ UI. That is, unless, you are trying to save that meager amount and want to embark on a journey to block in-app ads on Android for free. This tutorial is for the latter folks!
Most apps that start out free have to rely on advertisers to make an earning for their hard work. While the users only want the best for free and without pop-ups, app makers tend to lose a lot while trying to offer you an exclusive experience. On the other hand, almost every app that we use on a daily basis contains ads, so on an aggregate, that would be too much of a payout.
Ad-blocking is a serious thing and there are many apps that you can rely on that would affect the battery life. Contrarily, there’s ‘rooting’ for Android too, but that might feel too much of a pain-in-the-butt for a non-techie.
Pinpoint the source of your problem
Not every Android user plays games on their phones, nor do they have a ton of apps that burden them with ads. The level of frustration caused by ads is directly related to how much do you frequent an application(s).
For instance, Skype for Android does not have ads. So, the users of Skype won’t have to worry about it. Whereas, the users of the famous app ‘Words With Friends’ need to watch a 15-second ad each time they play their turn. So, factoring in the source of your problem is the best way to go about resolving an issue. If it is a single app that you use a lot in a day, then pay for the ad removal, it will save you a lot of time. On the other hand, if the source is a browser, say Google Chrome, this is what you can do to block in-app pop-ups.
Block in-app pop-ups in Google Chrome
Google Chrome is the most popular browser, for desktop PC and mobile. The only issue with it is that it does not come with a built-in ad-blocking system unlike its competitors such as Firefox or Opera.
When you are accessing Chrome on an Android device, it is mostly the pop-ups that you find annoying. Not only are they irritating, clicking a wrong button on the pop-up page might begin an inadvertent download to your device and there’s no way to stop it.
Here’s how you can easily block pop-ups on Chrome.
- Launch the Chrome browser on Android phone or tablet.
- Tap on the three dots that you see on the top-right-side of the screen.
- Now tap on Settings & then Site Settings.
- Scroll down a bit to find ‘Pop-ups’ and tap on it.
- Set the slider to Blocked and go back to the search page.
You won’t be troubled with pop-up ads in Chrome anymore, but there will be ads displayed on individual websites that you visit. To rectify this problem, use the data saver functionality to compress web pages, here’s how to do it.
Data saver mode
This option works especially for Chrome where the heavy-set web pages with a lot of ads or animated content flatten out to give a smoother browsing experience.
Data saver compresses those parts of a web page that do not need to be displayed on a mobile device. It saves your data bill along the way, too! Enable this feature in three easy steps.
- Fire up Google Chrome on your device and tap the three dots on the top-right-side.
- Tap Settings, then locate Data Saver.
- By default, it is set to Off; turn it On.
If you are not bound by a data limit, you can always Disable the data saver mode.
In case you are seeking a different browsing experience than Chrome, here are three alternative web browsers for you to consider.
Install Firefox for Android
If you have been a hardcore Chrome user, switching to a different browser might feel a bit odd at first, but soon you will learn that it is more than just a matter of choice.
Firefox for Android comes with Tracking Protection while you browse incognito. You can even extend this privacy by installing ad-blocking add-ons.
Install Opera (or Opera Mini) browser from Google Play Store
Opera has a built-in ad blocker. This factor alone should make you want to install it right away. It is super fast, reliable and offers a host of features that you don’t find in Chrome. Some of these include, speed dial shortcuts, access to bookmarks synced on other devices running Opera, night mode, etc.
Install free AdBlock Browser for Android from Google Play Store
The same ad-blocker that offers AdBlock desktop extension, has a free browser that you can download. It blocks all annoying ads on Facebook, YouTube and even more while remaining fast, safe and ensures an efficient browsing experience.
Ad-blocking using ‘hosts’ file method
A foolproof method to block all ads in your Android device is by adding a hosts file in your system.
To do this, you need to root your Android phone or tablet, there’s no way around it.
Learn how to root your Android device categorized by make (& model):
- Samsung Galaxy Note 8 (TWRP Recovery method) & (Alternative method)
- OnePlus 5
- Galaxy S8/S8 Plus
- One plus 3 or Oneplus 3t
- Redmi 2/Prime
- Gionee P4
- Samsung Galaxy S5
- Moto G and Moto X 1st Gen & 2nd Gen
- Nexus 6
To set up a ‘hosts’ file, you need a computer, and an active internet connection, then do the following.
- Open a web browser on a computer and open MVPS or pgl.yoyo.org or hostfile.mine.nu
- A plain text will open in the window. Right-click to save this page in a text format on your Desktop.
- Use a USB to copy this hosts file from your PC to Android device. Just so that you do not forget where exactly did you paste this ‘hosts’ file, it would help to make a note of it somewhere.
- Now, on your Android phone, open the File Manager app and copy this ‘hosts’ file to “/etc” or “/system/etc”. You can get this far if and only if your device is rooted since you will be asked to allow the SuperUser permissions to the file manager at this point.
- If there’s already a hosts file sitting in the above-mentioned destination, change its extension to ‘.txt’ or ‘.bak’.
- Paste the ‘hosts’ file here then proceed to reboot your Android device.
- Open a gaming app or a browser to cross-check, there won’t be any, you’re ad-free!
Install DNS66 from F-Droid repository
The APK file DNS66 is a more or less effective method to block all ads on your Android device for a bit of time. The upside is that it does not cost you an arm and a leg, speaking strictly in terms of battery drain, of course. Also, your device does not need to be rooted.
What’s more is that it is free and available on F-Droid Repository.
You can trust this website and the APK file that you need to download using Android phone or tablet. Usually, though, you should be skeptical of APK files that you download directly on your Android since they could be infected with malware.
Once you open the web-link, perform the following steps to install it.
- Scroll down to the Packages section and tap the blue button “Download F-Droid”. Since it is your first time, it’s best to install the F-Droid client before you download the APK.
- Once that’s done, tap on the search icon within F-Droid interface.
- Then in the search field, type ‘DNS66’. Tap on it.
- You will now see an install button next to it, tap on that.
- Give it a few seconds to install, then you will see the interface of DNS66. Leave everything as is and select the HOSTS tab.
- Enable Filter Hosts then enable Refresh daily.
- Go back to the START tab then at the bottom, press START. You will be prompted to allow a VPN* connection to establish and you will notice a ‘key’ symbol appearing at the top of the screen.
- If you want to activate apps that can bypass DNS66, then you can select them individually under the APPS tab.
- Now, test it within your most used application to see if you encounter any pop-ups or advertisements anywhere in the app interface. If you don’t, then it will be a proof that this method works.
Note*: Connection speeds lower as a result of an active VPN connection. Any decrease is speed is totally normal and there’s nothing to worry about.
Other applications like Adguard, are known to block ads no matter where the traffic is coming from, but they also consume heavy battery power. DNS66 won’t be active all the time, and it filters just a bit of data, that’s not to say that it isn’t effective.
Try these methods, test them and share your individual experiences with me in the comments.