Android’s bloatware problem explained: Here’s how can you manage it

    Bloatware are the pre-installed apps and software on your smartphones and PCs that are not of much use.
    By HT CORRESPONDENT
    | Updated on Jan 13 2020, 04:29 PM IST

    Who likes bloatware? That might seem like a rhetorical question, but there's a lot to know before you say you don't like it.

    Also read: Looking for a smartphone? To check mobile finder click here.

    Most think these slow down your smartphones and even extract information without your consent. While that's debatable, this issue seems to have taken a serious turn. As we reported before, several firms including DuckDuckGo, The Tor Project and others have asked Google to get a better grip at bloatware apps on phones running Android. But before Google decides on it, if only it does, we are here to break down what bloatware is and how to tackle them so you don't have to.

    What do you mean by 'bloatware'?

    As Oxford defines it: Bloatware means a "software whose usefulness is reduced because of the excessive disk space and memory it requires" or an "unwanted software included on a new computer or mobile device by the manufacturer."

    To bring it in context, it means all those pre-installed apps and software on your smartphones and PCs that are not of much use. These can be apps that take up space on your devices over time and simply navigate users to different websites when clicked. You may have seen this in smartphones like Xiaomi, Oppo, Huawei, Vivo and a few more. Handsets coming from brands like Nokia and Google directly don't have bloatware as they only feature Google apps.

    The pain point here is that most of the smartphone makers do not permit you to uninstall them, forcing you to live with them. So this raises the most obvious question. How to get rid of them?

    But not all of them are useless

    While you may not use bloatware apps, some might need them. Take, for instance, Samsung Galaxy Dex app. For someone who doesn't use the service at all, it might just prove to be a useless app that takes space. However, it can be extremely useful for other Dex users. Similarly, the Smart Scan service in Vivo's FuntouchOS might not be useful software for many but some might find it useful. You might even disable stock gallery apps since you have a backup on Google Photos. But it often happens that these stock gallery apps have more editing options.

    Yes, they do take space

    As far as the space allotment goes, the pre-installed apps do take some space and are often shown as a part of system space taken on the device. While some smartphone makers do let you uninstall some of the apps, many don't and frankly speaking, there's no escape.

    Security remains a question

    Almost all the pre-installed apps that are from the company itself, are managed by the firm's pre-installed app store. And since most of these apps are not available on Google Play, they are directly updated by the firm and are not passed via Google's Play Protect set of checks. We would also like to point out to the recent open letter written by organisations to Google CEO, Sundar Pichai. The letter also talks about user privacy and data access by these apps that are not managed by Google but directly from the smartphone makers. "These phones carry the "Google Play Protect" branding, but research shows that 91% of pre-installed apps do not appear in Google Play - Google's app store," states the letter.

    ALSO READ: Over 50 privacy groups ask Sundar Pichai to take action against 'bloatware' on Android devices

    How to remove or manage bloatware in your smartphone?

    As we mentioned above, most of the pre-installed bloatware apps are not possible to uninstall. And while most OEMs do feature it in their handsets, some even allow you to uninstall certain apps. However, for those that cannot be removed, you need to download and install antivirus software that periodically scans your smartphone and keep it in check.

    In case you want to spend a good amount of money on it, one can go and buy a Google Pixel smartphone or an iPhone for that matter. Purchasing a cheaper Android One or Android Go device is also an option.

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    First Published Date: 13 Jan, 04:29 PM IST
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