• Stick it to Google with AdAway



    When I first moved to Android from S60 in 2010 I was aghast at all the advertising littered across the screen of my new Nexus One.

    Seriously, they were everywhere. Ads in the web browser? Fair enough... Ads in games? Bit of an eyesore... Ads in a file browser? Are you kidding me?!!

    Fortunately there exists an app that will allow you to take back some control of your Android device. You won't find it in the Play Store -- seriously, you won't -- but you will find it in the F-Droid FOSS software repository; it's called AdAway.

    How It Works

    It's deviously simple: the app rewrites part of your device's hosts file, replacing the locations for Google's ad servers with empty values. And it works amazingly well; after a reboot (recommended but apparently not required) all ads from your device simply disappear.

    As you can imagine, AdAway requires root. I'll add my humble opinion that AdAway is among the top reasons why you'd want to consider rooting your Android device.

    The Contentious Part

    At this point you might be thinking that using AdAway is more like sticking it to app developers than to Google. It's a fair point. I'd counter with the following:

    1. AdAway doesn't stop you from paying for software if you want to.
    2. Downloading ads uses data, data that you have to pay for.
    3. Have you ever actually clicked on an ad?

    Bonus Features

    If you're in China you can use AdAway to bust through the Great Firewall. That's pretty cool. And if you really know what you're doing you can even generate your own hosts file. There is a big security risk in doing this, so you really should know what you're doing.

    Banned From The Play Store

    In March, 2013 Google de-listed ad-blocking apps from its official app store, citing some fine print in its Developer Distribution Agreement:

    4.4 Prohibited Actions. You agree that you will not engage in any activity with the Market, including the development or distribution of Products, that interferes with, disrupts, damages, or accesses in an unauthorized manner 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.
    Fortunately, getting AdAway through F-Droid is as easy as navigating to f-droid.org on your device and downloading the .apk file directly from the site. Make sure that "unknown sources" is selected in your device's security settings and you're good to go.

    F-Droid is itself a pretty great alternative to the Play Store; I might write more about it in another post...

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    This article was originally published in forum thread: Stick it to Google with AdAway started by acurrie View original post
    Comments 11 Comments
    1. dpater47's Avatar
      dpater47 -
      will it stop the dreaded "myextras" from metro? i was rooted and did'nt have the problem until i d'l
      ZVE and lost the rooting.guess i'll have to reroot.thanks for the post
    1. Groot's Avatar
      Groot -
      I have nothing against paying for a program.
      Hate it when they say here is our App full of ads, no sorry we offer no paid version.
    1. acurrie's Avatar
      acurrie -
      Quote Originally Posted by dpater47 View Post
      will it stop the dreaded "myextras" from metro?
      You're talking about this, right?

      If it's coming from an entry on an Android device's hosts file, AdAway should indeed do away with it. Let us know how it works out for you...
    1. donklishous's Avatar
      donklishous -
      One problem I've noticed using AdAway is that certain legitimate links that I want to see won't work and there isn't a real quick way to fix that.

      Let me give you two examples:
      1) If I get a newegg link in my gmail, I can look at the text in the Gmail app, but if I click on a link to follow the deal, it gets hung up at the hosts file and I cannot view it. I know I could delete the broken pointer in the hosts file, but it's quite a few steps to do so.
      2) Using the slickdeals app has the same issue. If I click on a deal to follow it, the link is broken.

      So there are trade offs. It would be nice if AdAway had a feature to whitelist the most current resolve that got bounced in the hosts file. Meaning, if I clicked a link and it bounced I could then launch AdAway and whitelist that link either temporarily or permanently.
    1. acurrie's Avatar
      acurrie -
      Screen grab from my Nexus 4:

      Attachment 97463

      Seems pretty easy to whitelist individual sites...
    1. donklishous's Avatar
      donklishous -
      Quote Originally Posted by acurrie View Post
      Screen grab from my Nexus 4:

      Attachment 97463

      Seems pretty easy to whitelist individual sites...
      Oh geez, mea cupla, I am using AdFree, not AdAway. My bad. I will certainly check this program out as a replacement.
    1. zapjb's Avatar
      zapjb -
      I've switched back & forth between AA & AF. Currently using AdFree again after ~2yrs on AdAway. Now that I'm using GSM again AA had to go cause it wanted me to change my Proxy & APN setting.
    1. kaijura's Avatar
      kaijura -
      Quote Originally Posted by donklishous View Post
      Oh geez, mea cupla, I am using AdFree, not AdAway. My bad. I will certainly check this program out as a replacement.
      These are the white list settings for slickdeals links. They use advertising links for clicks if that wasn't obvious, which adaway default lists have marked for blocking.
    1. TelecomZombie's Avatar
      TelecomZombie -
      Helps save some data usage
    1. donklishous's Avatar
      donklishous -
      Quote Originally Posted by appzinventors View Post
      the app will work without root permission?
      Unfortunately, no. It needs to be able to access/overwrite the Hosts file on /system. So you'll need root.
    1. donklishous's Avatar
      donklishous -
      Quote Originally Posted by kaijura View Post
      These are the white list settings for slickdeals links. They use advertising links for clicks if that wasn't obvious, which adaway default lists have marked for blocking.
      Great! Thanks for the info! I recognize alot of those urls as ones I don't normally like, but hopefully I can just add the minimum amount to the whitelist to get slickdeals functionality without defeating the purpose of AdAway.