On Wednesday, Marco Arment launched an iOS 9 ad blocker called Peace. But it didn’t bring him enough peace, and so on Friday he pulled it from the App Store. It’ll keep working for people who already bought it, but he isn’t planning to update it anymore.
Anyone interested in a refund can visit reportaproblem.apple.com. Log in with the Apple ID you use to make purchases, click Apps in the toolbar to filter to just your app purchases, click “Report a Problem” next to your purchase of Peace, and fill out the form.
This is a surprising move, since Peace had actually taken the No. 1 spot on the App Store’s paid charts. That means for the last 36 hours it had outsold perennially popular apps like Minecraft, Angry Birds, Dark Sky, and Sleep Clock. At $3 a pop (before Apple’s 30 percent cut), Arment must have walked away with a pretty decent chunk of change.
Ad blocking has caused no small amount of controversy since it was revealed at WWDC that iOS 9 would give developers the ability to write Safari extensions that blocked content including ads, videos, and trackers. Some sites like The Awl and The Verge have been vocal about the need for content providers to get paid—thousands of sites, including Macworld, are supported by the same kinds of advertising that these extensions are designed to block.
It’s worth noting that Arment’s blog post doesn’t come out against ad blocking—in fact, he recommends a couple of other competing iOS blockers, as well as Ghostery’s browser extensions for the desktop, which make it easy to whitelist your favorite sites, or disable trackers one by one. So the existence of ad blocking itself isn’t a problem for Arment—it seems he just isn’t comfortable profiting from it.
“Achieving this much success with Peace just doesn’t feel good, which I didn’t anticipate, but probably should have,” Arment writes in his blog post. “Ad blockers come with an important asterisk: while they do benefit a ton of people in major ways, they also hurt some, including many who don’t deserve the hit.”
Macworld has written about ad blockers a few times, courtesy of our privacy-loving senior contributor Glenn Fleishman. Glenn tested betas of Adamant, Blockr, and Crystal for this explainer about how they work. Just yesterday he went hands-on with several blockers, including Peace, to explain the differences in their approaches and how you can pick the right one for your needs. Glenn also wrote a very helpful how-to on using blockers to selectively filter the worst offenders, like full-screen popovers, while still allowing the other display ads that help the site in question pay its bills.
Did you download Peace? Are you disappointed with Arment’s decision to pull it? Let us know in the comments, but please keep it civil. Peace may no longer be an app, but it’s still a worthy goal.