Ads are an unfortunate byproduct of the freemium internet that we’ve collectively chosen through our actions, and worse yet are the trackers they’ve inspired to follow everyone around our online lives. As someone who values their online privacy, I was elated to stumble upon Pi-hole, a network-wide ad blocker. Sure, we’ve had browser extension ad blockers for a while now, but these don’t help out very much on other devices like tablets and smartphones. Additionally, many sites now detect ad blockers and then deny you access until you whitelist them or pay some ridiculous $10 a month subscription for just one website.
Side note: I very strongly believe in supporting creators and publications that you like, but the “allow invasive tracking/advertising or pay a subscription” model doesn’t sit well with me.
While Pi-hole is an excellent tool for making usage of the internet much more enjoyable, it isn’t without its drawbacks. Sometimes you find yourself unable to open a link because it’s blocked or a page doesn’t quite load correctly or maybe you just want to temporarily disable the ad blocking to support a site that you really like. Pi-hole comes with a pretty great web interface where you can go in to disable it temporarily or until you decide to turn it back on, but it’s not the most user-friendly for non-technical users, as you have to know the IP address for the Pi-hole, or you have to set up some internal domain name that points to it, and you also have to make sure everyone in your family has the password to the admin settings and knows how to enable and disable the Pi-hole. As a believer in simple, native-first interactions, even I find this a bit tedious sometimes, so my less technically-inclined family members certainly wouldn’t put up with this.
Thus, I found myself motivated to find a better way to allow my family to have control over the Pi-hole. They should be able to access it from any device, with a fast, responsive interface, that’s easy to set up and use. Enter Pi-Helper. Below are a series of very early screenshots for the initial build. I intend to publish the app on Android within a couple of weeks and on iOS within a couple of months.
Stay tuned for more updates on the project and please don’t hesitate to get in touch if you’d like to help me beta test it!