There's been a lot of talk lately about the changes that await Google Chrome in the near future. In short, Google is going to change Chrome's extension platform. Developers confirmed it multiple times that the old API is going to be deprecated and that the new declarative webRequest API is inevitable. Translating it into human language, it will effectively kill a lot of extensions, and significantly reduce the capabilities of ad blockers.
We can't say we are surprised. We even posted a comment on this matter in the beginning of the year but we'd like to further expand on it, especially since more and more people are becoming aware of the change and are starting to worry.
First of all, you can breathe. Ad blocking is not going anywhere. Blocking quality of Chrome extensions will become worse, that's certain, but even in the worst case scenario we will eventually be able to catch up and restore most of the functionality. This will surely take quite some time though (maybe even years).
To give you some perspective: Chrome team is going to limit the maximum number of content blocking rules. Proposed limits are 30k for static rules and 5k for dynamic rules, and these limits simply must be increased drastically to keep ad blockers at least functional. If it does not happen, or if the limit is not high enough, the consequences might be very serious.
There's another, perhaps less discussed threat. This change can be a hard blow to the content blocking community. Ad blocking extensions' work is based on using multiple filter lists (subscriptions). You might have heard about EasyList, for example, but there are literally hundreds of other lists maintained by volunteers. The limitations of the new API may effectively prevent content blockers from using several filter lists at once.
Thankfully, you don't have to be dependent on Google's whims. We at AdGuard have been concentrating, and are going to continue to concentrate our efforts on improving the network-level ad blocking. This is what all AdGuard standalone versions do, apps like AdGuard for Windows, AdGuard for Mac and AdGuard for Android. Browsers and their limitations have no power here, and these apps will continue working flawlessly regardless of whether you use Chrome, Safari, Firefox or something more obscure.
Also, we are putting a lot of faith in our new unique product — AdGuard Home. It is a completely new approach to protecting online privacy and ad blocking, where no one but you decides how it should be done. AdGuard Home is still in its infancy but we believe that this is the future of ad blocking. And people seem to agree with us, as more and more users show interest in it every day.