Google Chrome, the desktop web browser, is known for its vast library of extensions, small browser add-ons that fix minor (or major) annoyances. One of the most popular types of extensions are ad blockers. I can’t imagine surfing the Internet without uBlock Origin, and neither should you.
But Google, the company, has long resisted allowing Chrome for Android to use extensions. They claim it would be a support and security nightmare. And maybe they’re not entirely wrong. But without any kind of aggressive ad blocker, using Chrome for Android is just downright painful – pop-ups, pop-unders, video ads, those ads that take up the whole screen that you have to scroll past. I’m just trying to read about my favorite band’s next tour, but Chrome is allowing the site to make my phone look like an epileptic slot machine.
Firefox for Android does support extensions. Sort of. Once upon a time, you could use *any* Firefox extension on mobile, but for the same security and stability reasons as Google, Mozilla blocked most of them. Instead, they whitelisted 16 “official” extensions for Firefox Android. But one of those is uBlock Origin, which means you can get the same high-quality ad blocking on your mobile browser as on your desktop!
But wait… there’s more! Until recently there was an extension called Bypass Firewalls Clean that, as the name suggests, allowed you to bypass the paywalls at hundreds of news sites. Mozilla recently yanked the extension from Mozilla’s extension repository. We don’t know why, although the extension’s author suggests unhappy media companies issued Mozilla DMCA notices on his work, rather than it being a security issue on his part.
The good news? You can still download the extension from the author’s github page. Even better, the author created an oft-updating set of rules that allows uBlock Origin to act exactly like Bypass Paywalls Clean! Although this “trick” works in both desktop and mobile Firefox, it’s especially interesting for mobile in that it essentially gives a bonus extension that wouldn’t have been available ordinarily.
To set it up in either desktop or mobile Firefox, just open uBlock’s settings, go to “Filter Lists” and scroll down to “Import”. Paste the following URL into the box that opens:
So now you have uBlock AND Bypass Paywalls Clean on your mobile browser!
There are a lot of other great features of Firefox for Android to check out – I like how easy it is to send tabs to\from my desktop to\from my phone to\from my laptop, or pull a tab from my desktop session up on the phone.