Android 14 may help tackle annoying carrier bloatware

The app drawer on the Galaxy S22
(Image credit: Android Central)

What you need to know

  • Google recently launched the first developer preview for Android 14.
  • A hidden menu found in the build allows users to locate apps installed in the background by carriers and OEMs.
  • Stable Android 14 is expected to launch later this year, likely in August.

The Android 14 developer preview is officially underway, and while Google didn't highlight any significant changes, some users have started uncovering some interesting behind-the-scenes changes.

When diving into the Android 14 developer preview, Mishaal Rahman (via XDA-Developers) discovered a settings menu hidden behind some developer flags. The new version of Settings is dubbed "Spa" and provides access to a service called "Background Install Control." Here, he found an "Apps installed in the background" feature that targets and tracks apps installed on your phone by OEMs and carriers.

Your device manufacturer may install apps on your device in the background, or allow your carrier and other partners to do so. Any apps listed here aren't required for your device to function normally. You can uninstall apps you don't want.

This could be a major step in allowing users to remove bloatware from their devices, a problem that has plagued Android phones for quite some time. Oftentimes, apps are downloaded in the background without the user's knowledge, despite carriers often giving users the option to include some apps when setting up a new phone. These apps usually come in the form of random games or carrier/OEM copies of Google apps. Usually, you can easily uninstall many of these apps, but other times you can only disable them from the app settings.

For Mishaal, the feature didn't pull up any apps on his device, but he notes that the feature apparently appeared in the AOSP a few months back.

Unfortunately, it won't necessarily keep bloatware from being installed, but it may help spot and remove it. That said, given how early we are in Android 14 developer testing, it's not clear if this will make it to the final stable build, but we've got our fingers crossed.

The first Android 14 developer preview is available to manually download and install on Pixel smartphones from the Pixel 4a 5G to the Pixel 7 Pro. As this is an early developer build, we don't recommend installing it on your primary smartphone.

Derrek Lee
News Editor

Derrek is a long-time Nokia and LG fanboy who loves astronomy, videography, and sci-fi movies. When he's not working, he's most likely working out or smoldering at the camera.