VPN vote results

For the last month I’ve been running a survey about the possibility of adding VPN service into Blokada. The idea is that introducing independently from the existing ad blocking and DNS changing functionality will allow to support the project development long term. The survey was designed to help me understand what you think about this idea and how would you like it to work.

As usual, I could count on your participation. With 896 responses the survey turned out to be very useful for making decisions. Over 78% of you answered you’d use Blokada VPN, which I think is very promising result. Among those, 43% declared to only be interested in a free tier. It means that 44% of all voters is interested in a paid service, which is a very good sign for supporting the development of Blokada in the future.

VPN vote 1

As to top features you’d like to see in Blokada VPN, first five are: high speed, strong encryption, servers in many locations around the world, no logs, and support for multiple platforms. It’s a bit surprising to see strong encryption so often requested, and it highlights the fact that Blokada users are quite tech savvy and concerned about privacy.

Among the ones who said no, roughly 39% is happy with their current VPN provider, and 37% do not want to use any VPN anymore. Only 16% said to not trust Blokada enough to use its VPN service. The rest of responders provider more specific answers, mostly stating a lifetime subscription of existing VPN service, or a worry about Blokada becoming too bloated. The last one is an unnecessary worry though, since if the VPN service gets introduced in the future, it’ll be fully optional, and you’ll be able to use Blokada exactly as today, for free.

Again, thank you for so active participation in another general voting of our community. I already prepared a new survey, and it’s available in the app. This time it’s simply about which features would you like to see implemented in Blokada the soonest.

PS, did you know you can join Blokada Insiders and help run the project? For example, you can be managing the voting like this one. It’s totally free and doesn’t take much time. You are welcome to join us!

Blokada translations moved to Crowdin

During the last year we’ve translated Blokada to 15+ languages, with more than 30 languages in total being worked on. This is amazing!

In order to make the job easier for translators, I decided to change the translation platform to Crowdin. Migrating existing translations took me many hours, and not everything went smoothly to say the least, but I think you will agree it was worth it - the new platform is much better!

You can read more about the new translation platform here.

If you’ve contributed translations to Blokada before, I sent you an email about the new system. I invite you to try it out and let me know what you think. Also, we’re looking for people interested in managing translations - each language will have a person approving changes having a say on what goes into the app, and what doesn’t. We hope to increase the overall quality of translations this way. If you’re interested, please read about Blokada Insiders.

Branding vote results

Since users seem to confuse the name Blokada very often, I decided to check what the community really thinks about the branding. Over the last 3 weeks we’ve been voting on alternative names for the project, and we got some cool suggestions. Here are the results.

The first voting was designed to test if we want to change the name at all. Surprisingly, 89% of users (from 1286 votes) is happy with the name Blokada, or at least think we should not change it.

Branding vote 1

This was a bit of surprise to me, but since rebranding is a significant amount of work and I would prefer not to do it, I was happy with the results ;).

Users who voted to change the name was asked then to vote on one of the existing alternative suggestions, or propose their own. We got some really interesting suggestions, so just to exhaust the topic of branding I decided to run one more survey. The second survey was just focusing on those suggestions, to see which one of them is the best, in case we decide to rebrand after all in the future.

Branding vote 2

We got 358 votes (this survey was running only a few days). The highest number of voters (23%) voted on Blockade. Two next most popular choices were Blocky McBlockface and BlockIt, both with roughly 11% of votes.

So, thank you for so active participation in the first general voting of our community. I am very happy with the engagement and I think this is a very good way to decide about any matters important for the future of the project. In fact, we’ll be voting on introducing VPN functionality next.

PS, did you know you can join Blokada Insiders and help run the project? For example, you can be managing the voting like this one. It’s totally free and doesn’t take much time. You are welcome to join us!

Blokada Insiders

With the growing popularity of Blokada, I’m getting more and more questions about how can one help the project. Well, there is a lot of things to do with every single release! If you are enjoying Blokada and wish for its continued development, you can make a big difference by joining Blokada Insiders.

Blokada Insiders is a welcoming group of people giving a bit of their time to help Blokada grow and improve. We do various tasks which don’t take much time, but together make a huge difference. Each of us take a specific role, like Community Manager, Columnist, YouTuber, Adopter, Promoter, Translator, etc. Each role defines things to take care of.

How to join us? It’s very simple:

  • Check Insider roles (the ones marked with orange Help Wanted are up for taking) and decide what would you like to do. Click any of the roles to see a detailed description. Each role has its perks!
  • Check Creators board if you’re thinking about one of the creator roles, to get an overview of which things we currently need.
  • Join our chat and mention that you would like to join the insiders.

That’s it! Join the community, support Blokada, and have fun with us!

Blokada is an open source project. There is no financial reward or cost involved with participation. You are free to resign anytime, we only ask you to let us know once you decide to do so.

Blokada v3 is out!

Blokada v3 is now released and I’m gradually rolling out the update to all users. If you haven’t received it yet, stay tuned, or just go the download section.

This release is introducing a lot of changes and improvements, and you’ll see all of them described in detail in next several posts. Meanwhile, here are the highlights:

  • Improved “Keep Alive” feature. This is addressing the problem of Blokada being killed by the OS too often on some devices.
  • Improved “Start of Boot” feature. Now Blokada starts earlier in boot and is more dependable.
  • Introduced HTTPS to Blokada API and website to improve security and prevent MITM attacks.
  • Introduced Blokada Chat. You are welcome to join us on Telegram!
  • Introduced Blokada Patron. This feature aims to help supporting the project and at the same time reward contributions and active members of the community.
  • Introduce “Chip In”, a periodic Call to Action mechanism to engage the userbase and help make community decisions. As a first order of business, the Blokada community is having a vote to express their opinion on Blokada branding.
  • Simplified and refreshed UI to eliminate confusing bits, keep the codebase nimble and decrease apk size.
  • Simplified translating Blokada by decreasing the overall amount of strings, eliminating use of plural strings and keeping the core phrases set small.
  • Fixed several significant bugs, for example with the whitelist.

A detailed changelog is always available at go.blokada.org/changelog.

Thanks to the great team of Blokada translators, Blokada v3 is translated to 15 languages from the start. I can’t emphasize enough how awesome it is, especially because it was done on a really short notice.

Please note that some non-essential bits are still to be translated and you’ll see more complete translations in coming days.

Blokada ad blocker now also available in Italian and Malay

The awesome members of the Blokada community just contributed new translations! As of v2.2, Blokada adblocker is now available in two more languages: Italian and Malay. A thank you goes to:

  • Italian: htrex
  • Malay: Syed

This makes Blokada ad blocker speak 10 languages in total! Just a month after I’ve introduced translations support. What’s more, Hebrew and Persian are already in the pipeline (I need some more testing for those since they’re first RTL languages to be supported by Blokada). This is seriously impressive.

Great job everyone!

Your language missing? I’ve made contributing translations as easy as possible. Go here to help.

How to use quick whitelist actions in Blokada ad blocker

Blokada 2.2 added a very useful quick actions menu to help you efficiently manage your whitelist. You can easily whitelist and un-whitelist all installed or system apps with one tap. You can also restore your filters to default configuration in case you messed it up too much. Note that it also resets the blacklist.

Here is a video that demonstrates the quick actions menu available in the Whitelist section.

Keep in mind a few things while using this feature in it’s early release:

  • Not every app will immediately act properly after being whitelisted. In some rare cases you may need to kill and restart that app.
  • App whitelisting is only supported by the optimised blocking mechanism (at least in 2.1). If you are using standard blocking, you’ll see a message telling you app whitelisting is ignored.
  • Your comments on already existing items will disappear if you re-add them using quick actions.

Enjoy!

How to whitelist apps in Blokada

Blokada 2.1 introduced a long-awaited app whitelisting feature. This is very useful for dealing with apps that do not work correctly with ad blocking. Some apps, like Google Play Store or GMail are whitelisted out of the box. As always, you have full control how Blokada ad blocker works, so you can easily add and delete whitelisted apps.

Here is a video that demonstrates app whitelisting with XDA Labs app, which used to have problems with downloading apps if Blokada was on. Not anymore!

To add an app, go to the whitelist section, tap the add button, and simply start typing either app’s name or package name (application ID). Blokada will show you suggestions as you type. Once you select and confirm the app, it’ll show up in the whitelist. Blokada will also reactivate itself since it’s required for the changes to take effect.

Keep in mind a few things while using this feature in it’s early release:

  • Not every app will immediately act properly after being whitelisted. In some rare cases you may need to kill and restart that app.
  • App whitelisting is only supported by the optimised blocking mechanism (at least in 2.1). If you are using standard blocking, you’ll see a message telling you app whitelisting is ignored.
  • Some apps will be whitelisted by default if you just installed Blokada. In case you’re updating from earlier version, they may not show up, in order to not mess with your custom filters you may have added. Simply add any apps you want to whitelist as you go. Alternatively, if you really want to have the “factory” filters configuration, simply delete all of them (both from the whitelist and the blacklist), then restart Blokada. The defaults will show up.

Enjoy!

Blokada v2.0.4 released

Two weeks after Blokada v2.0 was released, and 4 iterations later, the new and shiny Blokada v2.0.4 is the most stable release to date!

I’ll be pushing updates to existing users incrementally over the coming days. You’ll receive a notification as usual. If you don’t want to wait, just use the download links on the website. Just remember to download proper version (if you have Android 4, use the secondary link).

The 2.0.4 update is a maintenance release, so there’s not much to brag about feature wise, but I’m proud of how stable it is for me so far. I hope your experience is going to be the same! Please report back if you get any problems.

A quick summary of changes:

  • Rework app connectivity / boot / startup behavior for significantly higher reliability
  • Introduce “Online only” switch to let users control Blokada behavior on connectivity changes
  • Add Malay translations (and improve Dutch and German integration)
  • Minor bugfixes

Enjoy!

A state of Blokada v2.0

It’s been a week since Blokada ad blocker is open sourced and available for free. Here is a short summary of the improvements introduced between versions 2.0 and 2.0.2.

I got great feedback from the XDA folks as usual, and I’ve been addressing reported problems as they come. The biggest issue was the stability around imminent network connectivity changes. Apparently, connectivity state events sent by the OS cannot always be trusted, so I introduced some mechanisms (including a watchdog) to make Blokada more aware of the actual state, while not killing the battery. I fixed a bunch of bugs on the way too, so v2.0.2 should really be more snappy.

There was also a problem with dropping filters (hosts count 0), and in result, not blocking any ads, which I also addressed.

In the meantime, we’ve got full German and Dutch translations, so I’m releasing them as well :).

so, after we let the new version sink in and confirm it’s stable, the long-awaited app whitelisting feature is next on the todo list :)

Enjoy!