Android A to Z

When you think of Android phones, you think of bloatware. We wish it weren't so, and not every phone comes with, but the majority of Android phones out there come from carriers and are chock full of bloatware. We've complained about it, and found ways to remove it, but what exactly is it?

Most folks consider any applications that your carrier (or the folks who built your phone) pre-installed to the system as bloatware. Usually, these applications are a front end to some service or content that you'll have to pay for, and usually it's something you would never download and use on your own. All the carriers, and all the manufacturers, are guilty of including it, and we tend to hate it all equally. When you open the app drawer on your new phone, and see City ID staring back at you, just waiting for you to click it, you can't help but hate it. 

But why is it there? It's one down side of Android's open nature. Google gives Android away to anyone and everyone, but realistically only a very few companies can afford to make cell phones. And they don't make them with you and me in mind as their customer. HTC, or Samsung, or LG (you get the picture) makes Android phones for the carriers. They work out deals to decide hardware and software  they want to include, and part of those deals are these "value-added applications" we lovingly call bloatware. Verizon and HTC love you, but they still want you to click the app and send in the money. Because Google isn't involved and doesn't make any rules about it, they can include any app they like in your new phone. Nobody likes it, but it is the side effect of being open.

Thankfully, Ice Cream Sandwich brings along the ability to disable (most of) these apps without rooting or tinkering with the system files on your Android device, and that provides the best solution we can think of. Certainly there are some people who found a use for City ID or VZ Navigator, and they should have the opportunity to use those apps if they like. And we can disable and hide them, and forget they exist.

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Android A to Z: Bloatware



Yeah City ID popped up on my first call I made on my One X, therefore it was the first thing I removed once I got home and rooted.

Bloatware bothers me more about Android phones than almost anything else and VZ has to be the worst offender among the US carriers. It's one of the main reasons I was so excited about a Nexus phone coming to Verizon. Unfortunately the GNex didn't work out for me, but maybe the next one will be better. Here's hoping that Googlerola produces the next VZ Nexus.

CityID isn't a terrible idea, and I honestly might have paid a couple bucks to purchase it. But a SUBSCRIPTION service for something that simple is just a slap in the face.

With a white glove.

And the glove is covering a dong.

While it would be nice to hide them as I never use them, I already forget these apps exist as I rarely use the app drawer, instead use shortcuts on the homescreens. On the rare occasion I do go into the app drawer, I just ignore them, same thing if they show up wanting an update in the Market (auto-updates are always turned off so as to have more control if/when to update). But bottom line: in the year I've had my phone, I have yet to notice any performance or battery drain issues what-so-ever regarding these apps, so I don't waste energy worrying about them. :)

And yet not all apps just sit there as ignorable bloatware.

"Sprint Zone" is a perfect example. I don't want it. And I can't remove or disable it. I wouldn't care that it was there except it keeps loading itself, so it is always running and always using resources (memory, cpu, network, battery) even if I never use it. Kill it and it just reloads a few hours later. Totally unacceptable.

I also see a few that indicate running on my Thunderbolt (ex. City ID, My Verizon Mobile, TuneWiki, etc.) and while they do indicate a little use of storage resources, I cannot tell otherwise that they have any impact on the phone's performance or battery drain (I get very good battery life), thus why I don't care to worry about them. I do understand the principle that some want full control over their phone and what is running, but you do have that option in rooting. :)

If a root is available and you are willing to void your warranty and stop getting updates and possibly bork the phone. Really, people should have to root their device to stop or deactivate bloatware. Very annoying.

On some phones you get temp root. It goes away after you reboot. I used it on my old HTC Hero. Did temp root, removed a lot of carrier applications, then restarted the phone. I did get multiple updates after that... so, I don't know about now,therefor your mileage may vary.

I have noticed something on my Galaxy Nexus. When I first got it in Dec all my Apps I was able to disable. I went to disable an app the other day and none of my apps have the disable button anymore, it only says uninstall. I have a Verizon GN running 4.0.2 with build #ICL53F.Is anyone else seeing this?

Apps that came on the system image of the phone can be disabled (most). Apps that you downloaded and installed on your own were never able to be disabled. You can only completely uninstall them. That's how it's always been on ICS.

Oh and if they are system apps that came with the phone, if you have downloaded and installed an update to them (chances are you have by now) then you will have to uninstall the updates first before you will be able to disable the app again. After uninstalling the updates, the disable button will reappear. Maybe that is what has happened in your case.

I recently purchased a non branded ICS 4.0.3 tablet from China. Good, bad or noodley... there is NO BLOATWARE. Now, I wonder if they can spy on my usage all the way across those many seas!?!?! Hmmm...

At any rate, it's my first ever device free of anything but the standard yet necessary apps. LOVE IT!

I'd like to point out that this isn't something that's new to just Android devices. Carriers have been doing this since as far back as I can remember. My old Motorola flip phone (forget the model, not a RAZR, oddly enough) had tons of Verizon garbage on it. That's the same crap we're getting shoved down our throats today.

Actually in the case of AT&T and my GalaxyS2, their bloatware was costing me data. The AP Mobile app was going nuts on my phone after I got it, even when not running (tried MANY things, trust me). AT&T and Samsung had no answer for me. I ended up being "forced" to root just to remove it.