Like Google, Apple also killed ad blockers in its browser
Back in June, Google triggered a wave of backlash after confirming a bunch of changes that would eventually render Chrome ad blockers unusable. Users argued that the company is executing the move to keep generating money from ads, but now, it appears that Google isn't the only one doing it. Apple has also been silently neutering ad blockers on its Safari browser.
Apple neutered ad blockers over months through broader changes
According to a ZDNet report, Apple introduced two different mechanisms over the last year and a half to phase out 'legacy' ad-blocking extensions - App Extensions and Content Blocker. The former allowed App Store apps to extend their functionality to other apps while the latter (when used with App Extensions) enabled content blocking capabilities on a web page loaded in Safari browser.
Then, Apple started ruling out legacy extensions
As App Extensions enabled developers to extend the functionality of their iOS apps into Safari, Apple started ruling out legacy extensions. It first stopped accepting legacy extensions in Safari Extensions Gallery and then began disabling them by showing a message indicating that the extension was slowing the browsing experience. This included all sorts of extensions, including those for ad blocking, VPN, parental control.
Apple disabled legacy extension installation with iOS 13
The final nail in the coffin came in the form of iOS 13, which ditched the legacy Safari Extensions Gallery for good, effectively stopping users from installing any old extension at all, both on iOS and macOS.
Many ad blocker extensions killed, but users didn't notice
The changes introduced by Apple led many ad blocker and VPN makers to leave the Safari ecosystem, including AdGuard, Malwarebytes VPN, uBlock Origin and several others. However, despite that, the company didn't receive that much flak as Google, which had laid out its own (but pretty similar) strategy for neutering ad blockers in Chrome browser a few months ago.
So, why this difference?
The silence against ad-blocking neutering in Safari may have something to do with the fact that Apple is known to enforce strict rules in the App Store without any levy. Not to mention, there is also the fact that Chrome has 65% of the browser market and Google relies heavily on ads, while Safari's share is just 3.5% and Apple is not ad-dependent.