Editor's Note: This story has been updated after a second report confirming the likelihood of the ad-blocker.
Now here's one we didn't see coming. Google, the biggest advertising company on the web, is building an ad blocker right into its Chrome web browser.
According to a report from The Wall Street Journal, Chrome's baked-in ad blocker will be activated by default on both the web and mobile versions of the browser, automatically disabling advertisements that Google deems as a bad user experience. This includes pop-up ads, auto-play videos and ads that feature a countdown timer before you're able to click out of them.
In some cases, Google may even block all ads on a site, provided that it's guilty of one or more of the above violations.
The new feature is set to arrive in 2018, and prior to that Google will give publishers a tool named Ad Experience Reports that will help detect these problematic ads and explain how to fix them. Google has yet to formally announce the feature, but the Journal reports that the search company has briefed publishers and online ad firms about the change in the recent weeks, and that timing could change.
Google is reportedly calling the new feature a filter, and not a blocker, and is positioning it as similar to how it warns users before allowing them to navigate to pages that may contain malware.
So why is a massive advertising company like Google build its own ad blocker? For starters, the search giant may simply be looking to encourage websites to embrace better advertising practices and provide a better overall experience for users.
Secondly, Google could be looking to squash out the plethora of third-party ad blockers all over the web. According to the WSJ report, about 26 percent of U.S. internet users employ ad blockers — some of which cost money to use. If Chrome, which comprises nearly half of all browser use, can block ads for you, why download a separate program?
If this feature does in fact arrive, it could significantly affect the way tons of websites do business; particularly the ones that rely on ad revenue to survive. But Google seems keenly aware of the reasons why most folks use ad blockers, and making a move like this could ensure that your favorite websites remain free of dancing ads and auto-playing videos.
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Henry is a managing editor at Tom’s Guide covering streaming media, laptops and all things Apple, reviewing devices and services for the past seven years. Prior to joining Tom's Guide, he reviewed software and hardware for TechRadar Pro, and interviewed artists for Patek Philippe International Magazine. He's also covered the wild world of professional wrestling for Cageside Seats, interviewing athletes and other industry veterans.