Google recently released most of the source code for the Android version of its Chrome web browser. So it was just a matter of time before developers started to build their own browsers based on Chromium.

And not surprisingly, one of the first of those browsers is basically Chrome… with a built-in ad blocker.

Meet #NoChromo.

nochromo

This Android browser looks and functions almost exactly like Chrome. But it will block most internet ads.

It’s not the first mobile browser with an ad-blocker. Developers have offered mobile versions of ad-blocking plugins such as Adblock Plus and uBlock for Firefox, Dolphin, and other browsers that support add-ons. Recently the Adblock Plus team even launched their own web browser which is basically a custom version of Firefox for Android with ABP baked in.

But since Google’s Chrome browser for Android doesn’t support extensions or plugins, the only way to use ad-blocking software previously was to install a utility that would block all ads delivered to a phone or tablet at a system level, not just in the web browser. This is a clunky approach that often requires root access and could cause problems with some apps.

Now that source code for Chromium makes it possible to build your own Chrome-based browser, we may see other custom versions of the browser with other features built in. I’d love to see a version that supports extensions… but for now I have mixed feelings about #NoChromo.

On the one hand, I’m always impressed when developers take the tools available to them, mix them up in interesting ways, and create something new that can offer a better user experience. Many websites do load more quickly and look better when you remove the ads.

On the the other hand, sites like this one rely on advertising for revenue and if a large enough number of people used ad-blocking software, it could have a serious impact on the way most for-profit websites make money. Or to put it more bluntly, I can afford to work full-time on this website because it brings in enough revenue to justify my treating it as a full-time job.

So I personally don’t use ad blocking software when I surf the web, and on Liliputing I also try not to accept annoying ads that play automatically or cover up the content.

But I’m still kind of impressed at just how quickly someone managed to make an ad-blocking version of Chrome for Android. I’d be even more impressed if there were an option to whitelist ads from sites you want to support though (hint hint).

The developer is also making no promises to keep #NoChromo up to date, and there’s a chance that it may not support some web content due to the few bits of Chrome for Android that were not open-sourced (including some media codecs). So proceed with caution… or at least keep another web browser around in case you run into trouble.

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13 replies on “Google open sources Chrome browser for Android, NoChromo makes an ad-free version”

  1. Okay, so does NoChromo also stop Google from spying on me via the browser?

  2. I just added your web site to my white list both in android (Using adaware) and in chrome. I just hate pages where the ads make the 60% and content is 40% or less.

  3. I have adaway installed and I still have ads in Chrome? Though, I like liliputing, so I wouldn’t want to block you 🙂
    So, when will someone make chrome with better battery life? Always uses ram and resorces whether it’s on Android, windows or mac. Safari is much more efficient on my Macbook pro but I hate it!

  4. great.. no repo, no source, not way to do auto-updates

    gotta love those kiddies at xda-developers
    It’s not like git/darcs/bazaar/svn or FDroid were things…

  5. I’d have thought sponsored content and affiliate links where the vast majority of most similar sites revenue. I assume those sort of ‘ads’ aren’t blocked at all, right?

    Personally I’m 17,9772 times more likely to click on a link in one of your excellent articles, rather than an ad in the sidebar…

  6. killing trackers is high priority. killing annoying animated ads is another. ad servers also have this annoying problem of making a site load noticeably slower as well.

    just tested. on a 1007u chromebook with ublock enabled site load is 3s…that includes the extra time for disqus.
    with ublock disabled but flash blocking enabled load time is 16s, content rendering delayed by the ad servers. the ads creep me out with the tracking.
    with flash enabled who knows how bad it might be?

  7. I just took 2 seconds to turn off adblock plus for this site. I hope everyone who reads here regularly does the same. I guess I should occasionally click on an ad to keep the revenue going… So I guess that is my 2 cents (literally.)

    1. Refreshed and now 7 ads scattered about. Not so bad. ABP also has the setting to allow some “acceptable ads” but I’m not sure how much that lets through.

      1. Yeah… I try to keep the content-to-ad ratio high and don’t allow any pop-up, pop-over, hover-over-text, or other ads that I personally find annoying.

        I totally get why people use ad blockers… and I’d love it if I could reduce the number of ads on the site to help it load more quickly. But it’s a balancing act… so I just do my best to not be annoying.

        Liliputing’s ads wouldn’t qualify for ABP’s acceptable ads program though, since they prohibit all animations, among other things.

    2. The problem is on mobile devices, you block everything or nothing. So, I think this is a good thing, as you can now whitelist good sites like liliputing easily.

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