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Samsung Phone Users Perturbed to Find They Can't Delete Facebook (bloomberg.com)
848 points by ourmandave 71 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 463 comments



It's not just FB, my Samsung S9 came preloaded with 'undeletable' Microsoft apps too. But this is nothing new, Samsung phones have came preloaded with bloat since forever.

When buying a new phone I always spend some time deleting all Samsung, Microsoft, Facebook and carrier related apps. Yes, you can delete 'undeletable' apps through ADB, without rooting the device.

  pm uninstall -k --user 0 <name of package>


> It's not just FB, my Samsung S9 came preloaded with 'undeletable' Microsoft apps too. But this is nothing new, Samsung phones have came preloaded with bloat since forever.

I'm old enough to remember when this was standard. Before smartphones almost all cellphones were bought through carriers and came pre-loaded with a bunch of carrier crapware (often unremovable). One of the best things about the first iPhone was that Apple retained control of the pre-installed apps and AT&T was not allowed to put a bunch of their own garbage on it. 12 years later the lack of crapware remains a key differentiator for iPhones. But what's most surprising is that in an industry where everyone seems keen to copy even Apple's worst ideas (no headphone jack, notches) only a few are copying some of their best.


Like the iPhones, phones distributed by Google, starting with the Google Phone G1 in 2008, and continuing to the Nexus phones and today's current Pixel phones (Pixel 1, 2, and 3), have never had crapware.


That isn't really accurate, you're just defining "crapware" is such a way so that Google's apps don't qualify. That's a double standard.

Google Drive, Gmail, Google Photos, Play Music, Play Movies, Play Games, Play Books, Duo, Google+, and YouTube could all be called as crapware since they aren't required for core phone functions (and upsell for-profit services).

I guess it is somewhat a discussion what we mean by "crapware." But I'd argue most reasonable definitions include at least some of Google's pre-installed apps.


> That isn't really accurate, you're just defining "crapware" is such a way so that Google's apps don't qualify. That's a double standard.

I need to clarify - I'm not an Apple hater, I own an iPhone, 2 iPads, 2 Macbook Pros and a Mac Mini at the time of this comment.

But, this same logic can be applied to Apple as well. For example, I don't use Apple's photos app at all. And I can't delete it. There is absolutely no way to even replace it. The same logic applies to Apple's crappy music app as well. I use Spotify 100% of the time. Not to mention the constant push to upgrade to Apple music on a system default app is unacceptable.

The photos app isn't crucial to my iPad's core functions. Yet I get constantly harassed with upgrade to iCloud bullshit constantly. Same thing goes with App Store as well, which has no way to turn off upgrade notifications. This is even true of Mac OS X as well, where I get notified constantly to upgrade to Mojave when I have no plans to do so...so that Apple can make my system slower and force me to upgrade my otherwise perfectly functional Mac. It's not like they haven't done this in the past, so...that's the real double standard I would argue.


What really pissed me off with the last iOS upgrade was the change the made to HomeKit. I had it connected up with my WeMo and Philips Hue devices, and could use Siri to turn on lights, etc.

After the upgrade, I was suddenly required to sign into HomeKit with my Apple ID. What for? It was all working fine without it. None of my "smart" devices need a cloud connection to function. I prefer to not connect everything to the cloud when my home network works just fine for me. Since I refuse to sign in out of spite for this change, now I can't control things with Siri.


You can remove most of the non-essential apps like Music, iTunes Store, Maps, News.

I consider Photos and essential app to the phone. But the push to iCloud could be annoying (I haven’t experienced it because I already have it). If I remember correctly, android phones come with a Gallery App for Photos and then additionally Google Photos. This was a few years ago, I’m not sure if it has changed. Whereas iPhones come with Photos and the iCloud functionality built in.


Well, no, you can just hide the icon on the screen. That’s all that does, just like how you can ‘disable’ Facebook on the Samsung phones.


> Well, no, you can just hide the icon on the screen. That’s all that does

This is no longer true since some version of iOS 11. Deleting apps removes them from your system, and you must redownload them from the App Store to get them back. However, while the application bundle might be removed from your device, the frameworks it relies on don't.


Disabling system apps on Android doesn't just hide the icon, it stops the app from running (e.g., via intents or other means by which you can run an app without clicking on the icon.) It's in practical effect no different than deleting a non-system app, except that physically the app is still in immutable storage on the device and can be reenabled without being downloaded (barring any subsequent updates to the bundled system version, which would need to be downloaded.)


There are functional differences on iOS. For example if you “delete” Apple Music, Siri loses the ability to tell you what song is playing on Spotify (although I haven’t tried it since the original option to delete was added)


Functionally, isn't that much the same as disabling an Android system app?

I wonder if these articles would cease if Android simply changed the label "disable" to "delete" and removed the ability to view and re-enable disabled apps.


Android system apps can be reenabled without redownloading them, IIRC. On iOS you must download the app again to use it.


You would probably want to download the latest update rather than using the old version from the system image, but that's correct. Though IIRC the Facebook "app" the article complains is just a minimal placeholder, with the real app downloaded from the Play Store.

There are some built-in iOS apps that can't be deleted at all, such as Photos. For those that can be "deleted" Apple says users can restore them by downloading the app from the App Store.

But if a user deletes all the built-in apps that can be deleted, are they restored if the iOS device is reset? I would assume so, since wiping a phone is recommended before reselling it and a new user may be confused if default apps are missing, though I don't want to wipe my device just to confirm.


> There are some built-in iOS apps that can't be deleted at all, such as Photos.

Yes, because if you take photos you kinda need a way to view them. It would be extremely confusing if your pictures you took with Camera ended up being saved somewhere but you could not view them, so Apple seems to have just made it a requirement.

> But if a user deletes all the built-in apps that can be deleted, are they restored if the iOS device is reset? I would assume so, since wiping a phone is recommended before reselling it and a new user may be confused if default apps are missing, though I don't want to wipe my device just to confirm.

That's a good question, and I don't want to wipe my device either. I'll see if I can get access to a "burner" iPhone to test this.


Yeah, I agree it makes sense that certain apps shouldn't be easy to get rid of, though in comparison Android does let users disable apps such as the default gallery, browser, and even app store. I think the stock dialer and SMS apps are the main exceptions.

If deleted built-in apps aren't restored even after resetting an iOS 12 device, it's a good thing some apps aren't removable. I wish I'd thought to check before trading in my old iPad.


> But if a user deletes all the built-in apps that can be deleted, are they restored if the iOS device is reset?

Yes.


I don’t think that’s what it does.

When you redownload a now-deleted-preloaded app, it actually downloads it. You can see the progression in the App Store. Which makes me think that Apple actually removes the App package from the phone.


This is how disabling apps in Android works also. There is a baseline version baked into the ROM, but any updates are installed into normal memory. Disabling the app removes the updates from normal memory, so when you enable the app again it will (likely) need to update.


> I consider Photos and essential app to the phone.

So do I, but OS vendors are making that experience worse by 'integrating' it to some cloud bullshit whether I want it to or not.

My Galaxy S7 (with all the bloatware the article mentions) was replaced with an "Android One" device from Nokia. First thing I noticed on the Nokia was that the only gallery app was Google Photos, which I want nothing to do with.

The Galaxy S7 had Google Photos, but also Samsung's stock Gallery app, which I greatly preferred because it acts exactly like the dumb pipe I want it to. Same with Samsung Music. On the Nokia, I had to install an alternative app because Play Music is unusable with the constant nagging to join their streaming service.


You can turn off iCloud sync in iOS, and you can even do it for Photos specifically. I do because I don't care to have it backed up to iCloud, which I don't pay for.


You know what you can't do with iOS? Use a 3.5mm jack. :D Realistically though I found iOS to be too restrictive and I dislike that there's only one theme that's available. It was far too bright for my eyes at night even with it turned all the way down. Checking my phone at night would often wake my wife. I can't believe that iOS doesn't have a dark theme.


> If I remember correctly, android phones come with a Gallery App for Photos and then additionally Google Photos.

It depends on the phone. On Pixel devices, which is arguably the closest on the Android side to Apple phones in terms of being curated, it's just Photos, plus the ability to swipe back in the camera app.


The Photos App is pretty much the end-all, be-all of accessing photos taken by the iPhone's camera. So it makes sense that it's a default app that is uninstallable.


I get constantly bugged to upgrade to Mojave on my work computer, where corporate IT policy has disabled being able to install it. So the installer can tell I can't do it, but not the notifier.


This is identical to how all other phone OS vendors work where the OS vendor pre-installs apps as part of their ecosystem. If you consider them crapware, then there are no major mobile OS vendors who don't install crapware.

iPhone preinstalls 42 apps, not all of which can be easily deleted: App Store, Calculator, Calendar, Camera, Clock, Compass, Contacts, FaceTime, Files, Find My Friends, Find My iPhone, Game Center, Health, Home, iBooks, iCloud Drive, iMovie, iTunes Store, iTunes U, Keynote, Mail, Maps, Messages, Music, News, Notes, Numbers, Pages, Passbook, Phone, Photos, Podcasts, Reminders, Safari, Settings, Stocks, Tips, TV, Videos, Voice Memos, Wallet, Watch, Weather

Android comes with 29 preinstalled apps, and like iPhone some of them cannot be easily deleted: Android Pay, Calculator, Calendar, Camera, Chrome, Clock, Contacts, Docs, Downloads, Drive, Duo, Gmail, Google, Google+, Keep, Maps, Messages, News & Weather, Phone, Photos, Play Books, Play Games, Play Movies & TV, Play Music, Play Store, Settings, Sheets, Slides, YouTube


(as said in the other comment thread): you can delete many stock apps in iOS:

https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT208094


If the default apps are restored after a factory reset then "deleting" a built-in app in iOS isn't really any different from disabling an Android system app.


Apple distinguishes between deleting apps and hiding them: https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT204221


It reads just like the android way of disabling: Removes cache and user data, if you go to the app-store to 'enable' it again it has a small install file already on system and either automatically updates before use (iOS) or puts available updates in the download queue (android).


What happens if you resell an iPhone from which you've "deleted" apps such as Contacts, Maps, and Music? Does wiping and resetting the device restore it to stock condition, including those default apps?

If not, that seems potentially confusing for secondhand users. Some apps such as Phone and Photos cannot be removed in any way, but users may still be confused if other default apps are missing.


iPhones now let you uninstall almost all of those. I know Safari and the App Store are two of the rare exceptions.


Safari, AppStore, Phone, Messages, Clock, Photos, Camera, Health, Settings. I think that's the full list of the apps that can't be removed from iPhone.


Calculator?


Can be deleted as well.


How very generous of them!

Not getting at you personally here :) just... it's astonishing how quickly we've gotten used to the idea that you'll pay hundreds of dollars for a licence to use a device that you're not really in control of.


Hyperbole...

You see a lack of control over your own device. I see someone else managing my device for me so that I don't have to think about it.

You see the app store locking you in. I see it protecting me from malware and keeping me secure.

I know you're right and I should care more.

You can appreciate how nice it would be to just let someone else figure it all out and take care of it for you.

"A man is rich in proportion to the number of things which he can afford to let alone." - Thoreau


I agree it's good to have someone else looking after your device for you.

But Samsung's flavour of Android is not that. You have to pay extra attention because you can't trust it not to trick you into something you don't want — “agreeing” to adverts or sending personal data. You're constantly batting away flies. It's user-hostile, not user-friendly.

This is why I prefer Fedora to Windows: the intent of the person managing my device for me is to make a useful tool (not to enhance my experience in association with select commercial partners), and this aligns with my goals.

Peace of mind is precisely why well-maintained free software is more user-friendly than consumer shovelware.

(My job involves testing a website. This week I used a Samsung Galaxy S5. Peel Remote™ has to be an extremely elaborate parody… right?)


Almost all of the apps you listed can be deleted just like any other. Are you trying to create a misleading comparison on purpose?


You can remove all of the Google apps, though. (You can't remove the storage space they take up on the phone's ROM, as they ship on the stock device so that they don't need a download at setup time, but you can completely disable them so that they're treated as not installed.)

Also, these days, people consider photos, music, videos, email, and similar to be core phone functions; frankly, many people use them more often than they make phonecalls.

(Personally, I disable around half of those apps, along with Chrome.)


> these days, people consider photos, music, videos, email, and similar to be core phone functions

Yes, which is why I want full freedom to choose clients and apps that would be doing this on my phone.


I disagree with a definition of crapware that emphasizes the inability to remove, rather than the clear crappyness. I would call the first mandatoryware.

To me, crapware is:

- Order of magnitude bad engineering by industry standards (esp if it is not customer centric).

- So bad that if it could be removed, a majority of people who know how would remove it immediately.

- So bad that if [FANG / anyone competent at software] designed an alternative, most people would switch to it.

Crapware for me is not identically equivalent to mandatoryware. I get the GNU-like hate for mandatoryware from some people, but it's useful to have a distinction between (potentially subpar) mandatoryware like IE in Windows XP, and the absolute rubbish that was Verizon Music Store on my 2005 flip phone.


I mean... then Apple bundles crapware too. iTunes Store, Pages, Weather, Find Friends, and a bunch of other stuff that I put in a folder inside a folder and promptly forgot about when I got my first iPhone.


Those are all deleteable since iOS 11


Not defending Google's practices, but there is no double standard here. Apple's apps are also not removable in the iPhone.


Actually, most of them are removable! Only a few apps that are deeply tied to the system (Settings, Photos, App Store, Clock, Messages, etc) can’t be deleted, but you can remove Maps, Weather, Music, Calculator, etc.


Newer iOS does allow removing apps like Stocks, Weather, and Maps, although I don’t know if every trace is actually deleted.

I just deleted the built in Mail app from my iPhone and it worked fine.


> Newer iOS does allow removing apps like Stocks, Weather, and Maps, although I don’t know if every trace is actually deleted.

The app is deleted, but the frameworks and system assets it relies on are not.


Where does Siri fit in with your model there?


I believe this is also true of the many phones branded "Android One" https://www.android.com/one/


That's what I thought too. Bought a Nokia/HMD android one phone, not through my carrier. After I put my SIM in and booted the phone it started downloading crapware my provider offers...

Luckily downloaded regularly through the play-store, so I could just immediately delete it afterwards. But it still seems there's deals going on there even if you don't buy the phone from your carrier and it's android one.


I have (outside of my personal iPhone) an LG ThinQ 7 through work and I don't recall it coming loaded with a bunch of crapware, either. There were your standard apps plus "LG Switch" which is for file transfers and "LG Health" which is pretty self-explanatory. Beyond that there was NextRadio as the phone has an FM receiver. Plus the Google Play stuff.

Not too bad. Can't say anything about their other phones, though.

(Prior to this phone I had a Samsung S6 and that thing was nightmarish with all the bloatware)


Never had crapware other than google ‘s own spyware.


That's not true.

My Nexus5 had "HP Cloud Print". Undeletable.

Which was the reason I installed Cyanogenmod.


The Nexus One had preinstalled apps that could not be removed, specifically Amazon MP3, Twitter, and Facebook.


My Moto G also has a pretty basic Android without crapware other than a ton of Google Play apps.


Unless you count various preinstalled Google apps as crapware.


> “But what's most surprising is that in an industry where everyone seems keen to copy even Apple's worst ideas (no headphone jack, notches) only a few are copying some of their best.”

this is not surprising at all when you consider the ability to add crapware was a key differentiator for carriers of android relative to ios. ios threatened to disintermediate carriers out of phones, reducing the carriers’ value in the value chain. as iphones became popular, carriers glommed onto android to combat that threat. they continue to do so to keep apple at bay and maintain control over the phone.


Android itself has undeletable Google apps.


All phones have undeletable apps provided by their manufacturers. For example, on iPhones you cannot delete Messages, Phone, Safari, Clock, Photos, Health, App Store, and Camera in a conventional way.


Phone

Not much of a phone without a phone app.

But Apple does sell an iPhone without a Phone app. It's called an iPod.


Does iOS not support 3rd party dialer and SMS apps?


It does not. Just things like Skype, WhatsApp, etc.


They are easily disable-able.


Not all of them. I couldn't disable Chrome on my previous smartphone.


That's the manufacturer playing shenanigans. Unfortunately, it happens (Samsung?). It is still disable-able, just not as easily, as you need adb and usb cable.


You can install LineageOS if your phone supports it. No Google Apps unless you install them. Also no crap.


Not all Android platforms. The Amazon Fire platform which is Android is clearly lacking the Google apps and it's pain to install them.


> The Amazon Fire platform which is Android

No, while it is an AOSP-derivative, it is not Android.


You better update Wikipedia with that information then: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fire_OS

> Amazon Fire OS is an Android-based mobile operating system produced by Amazon ....

The A in AOSP stands for Android. Android Operating System

Guess you're splitting hairs and trying to say Android based isn't the same as saying Android.

I would argue that the AOSP is Android (and that's what Wikipedia confirms here https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Android_(operating_system) )

You're getting it confused with Google Mobile Services which is the crapware in question.

> Android is also associated with a suite of proprietary software developed by Google, called Google Mobile Services[10] (GMS) that very frequently comes pre-installed in devices, which usually includes the Google Chrome web browser and Google Search and always includes core apps for services such as Gmail, as well as the application store and digital distribution platform Google Play, and associated development platform. These apps are licensed by manufacturers of Android devices certified under standards imposed by Google, but AOSP has been used as the basis of competing Android ecosystems, such as Amazon.com's Fire OS, which use their own equivalents to GMS.


> You better update Wikipedia with that information then

I'm under no obligation to correct every error in Wikipedia.

Wikipedia> Amazon Fire OS is an Android-based mobile operating system

It's actually AOSP-based, more than Android-based (whether the relationship between the two is such that the former is a subset of the latter is...another discussion.) But even Android-based isn't Android (OS X is BSD-based, but not BSD; MariaDB is MySQL based, but not MySQL; the legal systems of much of the US are English Common Law-based, but not English Common Law)

Android devices, Android-compatible (per the ACP) devices, and devices running derivatives of the AOSP source code constitute a sequence in which each item describes a superset of the set described by the preceding item.


It is Android. You go into your settings and enable installation from unknown sources to install the Play store and run android apps just like any other android device.


Android.com shows Amazon Fire devices as examples of the wide freedom Android offers, so apparently Google disagrees with your definition of "Android".


Windows Phones didn't had crap on them either. This is strictly a Android issue.


Windows 10 comes with crap even in Pro version these days (Candy Crush etc.), so it was just because nobody cared enough to create that crap for Windows Phone.


I'm sure there was plenty of crap available. Didn't MS pay developers cash for any garbage they shoveled in just to get the "We have XXXX aps available" count up?

The real "problem" was nobody wanted to pay Microsoft for the privilege of having their crap preinstalled.


These aren't preinstalled though. It places a tile in the default setup for it, and the app gets installed if you click on it. If you delete the tile instead, the app is never even installed.


At least the Nexus phones I've had also never came with crap ware. This is yet another reason why I would only ever by a Android phone from Google. Of course the main reason are the longer update cycles that might even delay arrival of security updates. I really wish Google had gone the exact same route as Apple and only shipped Android phones themselves. To me the collaboration with random manufacturers also weakened the Nexus brand. I have zero brand loyalty to Samsung, LG or HTC. I wanted a Google phone. My iPhone doesn't say "Foxconn" on it, so why did my Nexus say "LG" and the next one "Samsung"?! I'm always surprised that these concerns apparently aren't shared by the market and people are happily buying Samsung phones with crap on it and unnecessary changes to Android that just result in getting updates super late.


In that Google is a marketing entity perhaps it's simply exercising one of the circa 2002 Spolsky doctrines linked to yesterday (https://www.gwern.net/Complement)? As far as Goggle's concerned the Androids are commodities that exist to run marketing-related software. FWIW I share your desires and wishes.


OEMs have always made better phones than Google themselves by improving and enhancing Android. Many improvements to Android came from Samsung, HTC and Motorola - the OEMs. Post 5.0, Google has only ever made improvements to Android to benefit its own hardware and ecosystem. For example, the Galaxy Nexus had no MicroSD slot even though the Galaxy phone it was based on did. Even now, Samsung is offering a phone with a headphone jack whereas Google has made their last two phones without, in a completely anti-consumer move.

Today's "Samsung crap" is tomorrow's "Brand-new Android feature that you need to enable Google tracking to use"


Android One phones are like this. My Nokia 8 Sirocco came with only one non-stock app (Nokia Support).


Before the program cancellation,there were talks on making this happen. They didn't do it, but considering it was preload apps or cancellation, that just goees to show how desperate of a move preloadsare in general.

Source : I was part of a team whose app was getting primed up for a preload on WP8.


Many Android phones don't have "crap" installed on them. This is a phone manufacturer issue and not an Android phone.


My LG has LG software preloaded and t-mobile software pre loaded. it just takes up space and would be fine, but it is annoying. One of the LG pieces of software (i thin it is a back up thing) does not work anymore, but still exists. An silly things like the t-mobile permanent unlock your phone app. My phone has been paid for for like a year and if i click the app and request a permanent, or temp unlock it says i am not eligible, but i cannot uninstall the app.

I have heard the argument about being able to hide the apps, but it is not the same. This is the first android phone i have had where i didnt root it and install a new android version. Just got tired of that (lack of security updates). So i am stuck with crapware.


It's both. Why does Android have undeletable apps anyway?


> Why does Android have undeletable apps anyway?

It was explained only zillion times, but I will try one more:

In android, you have storage in two partitions: /system and /data.

/system is read-only, this is where anything that is shipped with phone is stored. Outside of system updates, it is not being touched.

/data is, where user data, installed applications, configuration, etc. is stored.

To factory reset the phone, you just wipe the /data. No separate partition for factory reset is necessary, because /system due to its immutability doubles as one. Anything you configure/change/etc is stored on /data. If you disable any bundled app, whether through gui or adb, the info that you disabled it is written into /data.

Once you want to sell your phone on craiglist, you wipe /data and the buyer gets exactly the same software you originally got.

There is also secondary use of the immutability: android system is distributed as partition image, not as a file archive. That means, that the physical fs layout is same for all devices of the same SKU, can be signed (dm-verity), and then verified at boot, whether the filesystem was modified or not. This is being used for ensuring secure boot, and unsealing secrets in trusted environment.


What you're saying is that Android has undeletable apps because Android was created in such a way that it allows undeletable apps. Which is circular logic.

And the issue here is pretty clearly that users have to resort to adb to disable these apps. Why does Android force this? There is no reason, it could easily be built into the Android GUI.


> And the issue here is pretty clearly that users have to resort to adb to disable these apps

No, you can disable (not delete or uninstall) nondeletable (system) apps on Android without adb. adb also lets you “uninstall” them for a given user (but not from the device), which makes them less visible to the user than disabled apps, but it's not clear to me that it does anything substantively different, since neither disabled nor uninstalled-for-current-user apps run.

> Why does Android force this? There is no reason, it could easily be built into the Android GUI.

The only difference I am aware of between disabling through the GUI and uninstalling for a particular user with adb is that the former allows you to reenable through the UI if you later choose to, whereas the latter removes it from the All Apps list in Settings, making it invisible from the UI and impossible to enable.

Requiring the latter to require the user to use the same tool necessary to reverse the process makes it less likely that users will accidentally do something that the same user can't reverse if they change their mind.


If you are so much bothered by Android design, adjust your POV slightly: consider /system to be recovery partition (you cannot delete anything from any recovery partion of any system, so Android is no exception here) that shares data blocks with main system, created at boot in RAM. Because that it effectively is.

You don't have to resort to ADB to disable these apps for the most part; You can do it in Settings. For some apps you cannot do that in GUI - for Settings itself, for example, so the users don't shoot themselves in the foot. Unfortunately, some manufacturers abuse this and mark as undisable-able apps, that they shouldn't. Over ADB, they can't disable it, so it works for any app, including Settings.


I'm assuming it's to avoid a situation where Grandma accidentally deletes her web browser and the Play Store and doesn't know how to unbrick her phone.


It doesn't have undeletable apps, since adb lets you delete anything (although the exact semantics of "delete" will be different for apps that are installed on the system partition - but not in a way that matters to end users).

It has apps that cannot be installed from the phone UI. Which kinda makes sense, since you don't want people randomly uninstalling, say, the app store, and then complaining that their phone is bricked. OTOH, someone who knows how to do this via adb can be presumed to know what they're doing.


Well those phones aren’t running ios or windows....


Windows Phone didn't survive in the market long enough to start adding crapware. With their < 1% market share (not exaggerating), it's not like app makers were knocking down MS' doors to include their apps on WP devices.


AT&T variants usually came with crapware. You could uninstall most/all of it though. AT&T Android phones are of course far worse though.


for the longest time ios would have facebook\twitter in settings even if you uninstall it(still residual but mostly deleted and took miniscule space) but at least you could get rid of it within a few taps.


> for the longest time ios would have facebook\twitter in settings even if you uninstall it

Clarification: this was not the apps; these were system hooks for sharing content through these services.


Laptops with preinstalled Windows also have a tremendous amount of crapware from various vendors. Trial versions of antivirus software, system "optimizing" apps, sometimes outright spyware too.

Thankfully Mac users don't have to put up with this kind of consumer-hostile bullshit.


Macs have all consumer Apple apps preloaded, and the user cannot delete them without reinstalling macOS from scratch.

Imagine a poor user, getting Apple computer with 128GB SSD, where 10GB or more is being taken by GarageBand or iMovie, which he isn't going to touch during the machine lifetime.


You can delete the big apps tho. The biggest mandatory app is iTunes and it's only 213Mb. Kind of bugs me that I can't delete 8Mbs of Chess anyway.


I just tried it in 10.14... and you are right! It wasn't possible in 10.12/10.13.


Definitely possible at least since 10.10 (Yosemite). Not sure how SIP affects this, as I have it disabled.


In Yosemite or without SIP it would be possible with plain sudo. In El-Capitan it definitely wasn't that easy (I do have SIP enabled).


It used to be if you did the Windows installation yourself from a clean image from Microsoft, you didn't get crapware. With Windows 10 I can report this is no longer true. You get Candy Crush and all sorts of nonsense. I had a non-removable XBox app. I had to disable a lot of crap to get Windows 10 to perform well in a VM on one of my machines.


I know I can clean up crapware, via adb, but on principle vote with my wallet. It's not acceptable to charge me something that rounds to a thousand euros and then fleece me for a few extra bucks.

Right now, I restrict my selection to Android One [1] phones. The current one is a Nokia 8 Sirocco.

[1] https://www.android.com/one/


I bought Nokia 6.1s for my parents. Only $225 for a phone with great build quality, more than acceptable performance, quick security updates and a pure Android experience. The 32GB of storage is plenty for them.

The biggest drawback is probably the camera which although not horrible is a few years behind recent flagship phones. Not everyone cares about having the latest greatest camera on their phone. The camera is perfectly fine for my Mom to send me a picture of the latest thing she saw at Costco for a great price which she thinks I need to get and that will account for 90% of photos taken with their phones.

Mid-range Android phones that are part of the Android One program have really started making it difficult to justify spending the money flagship Android phones are costing these days.


Similarly, I've got Nokia 7.1 for my father last Christmas. It was 330 EUR (including VAT), Android One, with Pie already available. The camera is perfectly fine for him.

Once my phone will start acting up, it will be difficult to justify the expense for a flagship, when midranges are as good as they are.


I've had similar feelings... having finally ditched my Huawei Nexus 6P, which I came to loathe. This was after years of buying Google developer devices (going back to the G1). The 6P was the last straw, as I came to resent spending hundreds on something with a soldered-in battery that could be (and turned out to be) unusable after 24 months. The battery was a wreck.

I ended up getting an unlocked new LG V20 from eBay, which is a slightly older phone, but the most decent spec I could find with a replaceable battery. Been great so far, so it's been worth it for $190. Got a couple of spare LG batteries too, for $25 each.

Nice reminder about the ADB uninstall trick, as there's some AT&T stuff that would be nice to remove if possible. I'm also tempted by LineageOS, but need the core Google Android apps - so probably too suspicious to use a bundled install that someone else has put together.


Odd question. I bought V20 as a replacement for a Zenfone ( long story ). I like it. It does its job. I think I tried everything and I cannot root it. ADB just does not work regardless of what I try.

Anyone had similar issue?


I'm using the bundled install, micro I think. It's okay, it works just fine.

I always wondered what to replace my Nexus 5 with, thanx for the info.


Careful about buying 'new' copies of that phone on Ebay: there are none. Almost all of the new copies bring sold on Ebay for the last year or so are fraudulent. Finding an actual new LG V20, outside of perhaps Korea, is unlikely.

edit: just checked Ebay, and yup, there are no legit new copies to be had, except for maybe AT&T or unlocked variants for $400+. There's a very low chance that anyone will be/or has been able to find a new LG V20 for at least a year, and almost certainly not for a reasonable price.

It is a similar situation for numerous other smartphones on the used market, most new copies for sale are actually remanufactured/used that have been repackaged and fraudulently resold as new from somewhere [originally] in China. The fake LG V20 new copies began flooding the market somewhere in the past 1-2 years, and have dominated since, but that practice is typical for smartphones in general.


Item was described as "new and sealed factory unlocked", and I had no complaints when it arrived. If it is repackaged, I was completely unable to tell any difference from other new devices I can remember unpacking (new from Amazon or directly from a vendor). The spare batteries I sourced from a separate UK supplier.

It's definitely intended for AT&T, but worked fine with Three in the UK as soon as I entered the appropriate APN info and restarted.

Here's a relisting, for what it's worth :

https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/372561134735?ViewItem=&item=37256...


Ah, perhaps my experiences are only valid for US/North American buyers of US carrier variants. I know that there was a proliferation of repackaged V20 models being sold as new, and they all seemed to come from the same source - they had the same packaging Chinese/international packaging, but the devices included were used/remanufactured and were often incorrectly-specced for their purported carriers, giving away their fraudulent origins.

Like the packaging shown in that Ebay link is incorrect for an AT&T variant. AT&T almost never uses OEM packaging, instead they use some weird gimpy branded boxes of their own. If it didn't come in a box like this, then it was a fraudulently repackaged and was not new:

https://i.imgur.com/n2dFAq2.jpg

Also the printed inserts should have AT&T branding on them, and will include AT&T-specific inserts. The flood of fraudulent LG V20s usually include generic international versions of the printed inserts. Watch for the IMEI label on the box being pasted over with another label, to hide the ID numbers of the device the box originally came with.

Just because its not new doesn't mean it might not work fine, it just means you'll likely never get warranty coverage; or if you do get LG to accept it once they examine in-house for repair you're probably boned.


This is awesome! I had no idea how to find the phones that have better OS support, so I was stuck with the Pixel line.

Is this basically considered stock Android? Or is that yet another tier?


It's stock, but the options are not great and the hardware companies are not especially eager to put powerful phones on that platform


There is an LG G7 with Android One. That seems like it could be a great mix of flagship hardware with stock android.


It's the best option out there but still a lower range phone.

It's actually a different phone than the non Android one version.


Oh! I did not know that, I assumed they were equally specced.


I'm intrigued. I'm not in the market for a new phone right now as the one I have does not mess too much with android either.

But for the first time in 15 years I think I might consider a Nokia next time I go shopping...


I also would have gone with Nokia because of their clean software and build quality... But they are doing weird strategies with the European market. E.g. it's almost impossible to get the 64GB version, or if you can it has a massive price increase. Or some good models just don't get released here, like the 6.1 Plus.


The 64GB versions are mostly dual-sim, and only some 30 EUR more expensive than the 32GB versions. I wouldn't call it massive price increase.


Then I was thinking of bying the Nokia 6.1, the 32GB version was 250$ while the 64GB one was 340$ and mostly out of stock.

The new 7.1 with 64gb is not available at all here. Only through imports with an 110$ surcharge.


What's your experience with Android One? First time I hear about it but I'm intrigued, doesn't it come from Google anyway? So the "secure" claims are kind of empty?


I'm using a Xiaomi Mi A1 for some time now and so far so good. I was looking for a pure Android experience without all the crapware and custom UI's that come from any major phone brand and this is exactly what I got.

Also, direct updates from Google for 2 years without interference from the brand (Xiaomi in this case). Which means I have security updates every month.

I'm not going to buy anything that's not an AndroidOne from now on, with the exception of a Pixel.


> Also, direct updates from Google for 2 years without interference from the brand (Xiaomi in this case). Which means I have security updates every month.

You got exactly NONE updates from google. "Android One" has a requirement for vendors to provide updates. All those updates were from xiaomi.


After doing research in order to buy a new phone, I find it strange that Xaomi products are being suggested as an alternative to vendor anti-privacy and bloat.

MIUI is baked in and you need to register an account with Xaomi if you want to unlock your bootloader and put, say, LineageOS on your phone. Xaomi has a bootloader lockout period on their phones, during which you must wait and use MIUI for a period until your bootloader unlocks. They've increased that period from what was once a couple of weeks, to over a month on new models. That's plenty of time for Xaomi to harvest your data.

Meanwhile, there are other phones that allow you to unlock your bootloader without a data harvesting period.


A couple of months ago, I started getting notifications for random alibaba crap on my Xiaomi phone. Turns out, there's a system app which sends you ads as push notifs. Switched to iphone the next day, privacy is the killer feature.


Mi A1 is Android One phone, i.e. no MIUI, but pure Google experience.


I think you mean privacy, not security, which there aren't really any claims about.

Google aims to provide security updates to all Android devices, but specifically targets their product lines (Nexus, Pixel, etc) and Android One devices as they have a little more control over the software.


Pixel has no bloatware.


My Pixel came preinstalled with at least three of Google's multitude of chat applications.

If that's not bloatware then I don't know what is


Mine downloaded them after initial setup. I simply cancelled the downloads of the crapware messaging apps that hadn't started and uninstalled the ones that had already downloaded.


What about OnePlus?


Even though I am an extremely happy owner of a 5T, I won't buy another OnePlus device now that they have removed the headphone jack. That's the difficult part of voting with your wallet - your choices become more and more limited if the market isn't aligned with your personal preference.


Well said. I like small and light phones, not iOS. I'm typing this on an Xperia X Compact (2016). Follow up models weight more and maybe the product line will be discontinued. Even the iPhone SE is dead.



Wow, that's really small. Actually it's what phones used to be before 2007.


I have the original Jelly phone, and it's actually smaller than Nokia phones I used in pre-smartphone days.

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/jellyphone/jelly-the-sm...


How's the battery life? I got the Atom even though it's uglier because I read bad reviews of the Jelly's battery.


I got one off the kickstarter, and it's a neat little gadget. It hasn't fully replaced my main smartphone, but it's great for outdoors activities, or if I'm wearing an outfit without big pockets and don't want to carry a bag.


Did get another SIM or move the one from your phone into the Atom?


I swap my SIM when I want to use it, but it would be less hassle to get a separate one.


But then, how do people contact you? Anything tied to your phone number wouldn't work. Perhaps only Telegram, Skype, Messenger work cross device. Phone calls and WhatsApp don't.


If I'm out cycling or paddling, I probably don't want to be all that reachable, anyway.


For phone calls, good old call redirect is still a thing :P

No idea about whatsapp though.


This might be the greatest prison phone ever


And that one small time they were caught spying on all their users interactions [1] I say that as a pretty happy OnePlus 3T user.

  [1] https://fossbytes.com/oneplus-spying-users-disable/


Also the 5T camera is awful if you aren't using their proprietary vendor blobs. Custom ROMs like Lineage take absolutely shocking photos.


Can confirm. You are kinda forced into using their ROM.

I just want a good Android phone with at least some level of enhanced privacy. Its such a pity Copperhead went kinda weird.


I have the 5 and the photos are awful with the stock app...


For me it was the opposite, the removal of the obnoxious and ancient headphone jack was one of the reason I bought a 6T.


I'm really curious why you think that. Obnoxious why? How?

And ancient = bad? Boy, do I have some bad news about power sockets you have at home.......


Audio over Bluetooth has been one of the most consistently terrible user experiences I've encountered, and I used Linux as my daily driver in the early 00's.


I want to embrace the future. The more phones to get rid of the headphone jack, the more headphone companies will realize they need to make wireless versions.


That's like saying you want petrol stations to start closing down, so that manufacturers hurry up with electric cars. The logic is sound, but in the meantime it would be just bloody inconvenient to drive miles to a nearest petrol station while you still haven't got an electric car.

I want wireless headphones too, but I don't want to use adapters with my existing(and very expensive) headphones that I have right now. More importantly, having a headphone jack does not stop bluetooth headphones from working.


It would be nice if there were a way to deliver something resembling a quality audio to wireless headphones first. And a way to connect quality headphones to that magical wireless delivery system. Then you can get rid of a jack.


Be warned that Google does NOT push updates to these Android One phones, the OEM does, so they take their time and (potentially can) include as many crap apps as they want.

Xiaomi puts a lot of crapware in their Android One mobiles. They have their own line of apps, "Mi", and they include many of them pre-installed by default.


While I didn't have microsoft apps on my S9, if you install netguard (firewall) [1] you'll see that most samsung apps are constantly trying to get a connection with facebook servers and Samsung HQ.

Apps that have no reason to have internet connectivity, like the dialer, clock app, the finder (search functionality within the stock launcher) are phoning home [!] Unfortunately Samsung phones have locked bootloaders, so there's no easy way to 'take control'.

[1] https://github.com/M66B/NetGuard

side note: I recommend installing this on all [un-rooted] android devices. It's an easy way to block most "telemetry" apps & devices collect, from the Amazon Firestick to apps running on any given device, including Google apps.


I'm often surprised by the number of totally valid reasons apps need to connect to the interwebs where you'd think they have no business. Clocks need to sync with time servers, dialers want to get updated lists of spam callers.. not sure what "finder" is but seems plausible that a search operation would need an index to search and even more reasonable that it be server-side. Not to mention reporting telemetry, analytics, errors etc so devs can improve the product. Not saying everyone's a good actor, but just connecting to a server doesn't make them a bad one.


I would understand if the clock was connecting to a dedicated service to sync the time, but the clock app is just an interface where I can set alarms, use stopwatch etc. The system time is managed (and synced) at the Android OS level and so there is no need for apps to connect to the internet, nor for it to have updates.

For the finder app, the index should be local. There is no way I want my apps, documents and file metadata to be sent to some samsung server to be indexed so that I can do a local search -- that would provide no value and it's also features that I've never asked for as a user.

The calls from most of these apps (especially samsung apps) to facebook servers also serve no purpose other than to try and datamine. I understand there may be cases where telemetry is valuable, but it's unacceptable to have apps (in many cases that haven't been opened) to try and connect to a remote server behind the scenes, especially when you cannot remove them easily.


Your “time” example is unfortunately problematic. You need to sync time with something external to the device. If not over the Internet, you’d need to sync via the cell network or GPS or something similar. No getting around it. Component manufactuters have not solved clock drift yet.

The other examples are reasonable.


> The system time is managed (and synced) at the Android OS level and so there is no need for apps to connect to the internet, nor for it to have updates.

I don't understand how this is "problematic". I'm fine with Android being able to use NTP; I'm not fine with a clock app having internet access because it should just pull the time from the system.


Isn't cell network exactly how it used to be done? What is wrong with that?


I'm not surprised - every time I have Android devices (specifically Samsung) on my network, my pi-hole goes ballistic and the charts spike up noticeably. Those are all advertisement CDNs or telemetry. This does not happen with my hardware (all Linux or macOS/iOS).


Same with xiaomi using bloackada


I didn't know that. Thank you!

For those of you wondering how to do it (I'm using Windows 10, but it's not that different):

1. Download Android platform tools for your platform: https://developer.android.com/studio/releases/platform-tools...

2. Unzip it, open cmd and head to the unpacked folder.

3. Enable developer tools and USB debugging in your Android.

4. List packages avaiable:

  adb shell pm list packages
5. Delete the unwanted package

  adb shell pm uninstall --user 0 com.package.name



>It's not just FB, my Samsung S9 came preloaded with 'undeletable' Microsoft apps too...

Alas, it's true.

The crapware bloat has infested the entire industry. Sometimes I just don't understand? Don't some of these Samsung phones cost hundreds of dollars? Why annoy people who've already paid you with the crapware?

From software companies like Google and facebook, to hardware behemoths like Samsung, the entire industry has become addicted to this stuff.


Most people don't care. The money Samsung is getting from Facebook to pre-install the app is worth more to them than the goodwill they're losing from the minority of users who do care.


It is not just crapware, but adware too. When GDPR kicked in, I suddenly got a Foursquare consent dialog popping out of my standard Samsung Gallery app.

I still use that crap, unfortunately, but am looking for replacement for both mobile OS and smartphone (probably Fairphone with /e/ or LineageOS).


Most people don't care, or actually even enjoy those apps... They don't seem to care about anything at all that relates to phones. E.g. I've told my relatives multiple times to send me good photos as document in messengers. But nope, 100KB compressed mush it is.


...except for Apple.


That's what's great about them. They definitely want to be perceived as premium brand, and installing crapware or selling off your data does not go well with that image. So they don't do it.


Apple is doing a lot better nowadays, but it's still not perfect though, for example: you can't delete iTunes on MacOS.


Yes, you can. You can also recompile the kernel with new options, or do whatever else. This has been misstated repeatedly in this thread, but macOS simply is not backed by a trusted hardware chain, end of story. It's not iOS. With SIP Apple has effectively implemented something like a more granular system immutable flag with kern.securelevel set to 1 like it was back until 10.3 or so (can't remember exactly when they changed it to 0), but just as you could drop down to single user mode back then SIP can also be disabled or modified at will. Having the restricted flag set on a bunch of core system .app bundles under macOS and a sane default policy is simply not the same thing as "you can't get rid of it". And I do think Apple should be legally required to provide decent built-in support for an owner controlled trust chain, but I don't think mixing up "you need to really know and be sure of what you're doing" with "it's hard prevented outside of bugs" is helpful.


Right, but isn't a third party app, is kinda a part of the OS, like deleting Safari.


>why annoy people who've already paid you with the crapware?

Why make money once when you can make it twice? Where's the incentive for businesses to give you what you want, when you can instead just take what they offer?


> Where's the incentive for businesses to give you what you want, when you can instead just take what they offer?

This is a symptom of short-term thinking in corporate leadership. Apple didn't become such a valuable brand by filling their products with third-party shit in exchange for a few bucks.


>Apple didn't become such a valuable brand by filling their products with third-party shit in exchange for a few bucks.

The same intransigence that serves them today also had them teetering on the brink of bankruptcy for the better part of a decade at one point.

Apple has that commitment to quality, but even aside from that commitment they also just have really good taste and its baked into their product design and company culture. As they say, money can't buy taste and there are no MBA programs that cultivate such sensibilities. It's a hard orientation to copy.


That's true up to a point. But chances are, they will eventually have corporate leadership that is desperate to make a profit, and they'll seriously consider doing the same thing.


If there is potential for a B2B deal for installing crapware in your device, it will be completed. The retail price of the device will increase as long it will not cause significant sales drop on significant markets. Free market, or rather - a corporate oligopoly.


My note 9 got preinstalled with Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneDrive and LinkedIn. Is that what you call crapware?

I mean, I don't use LinkedIn nor OneDrive, and I only occasionally use the others, but these are high-quality pieces of software, you can completely disable these apps natively as well, they're not removed, but they don't impact the system in any way aside from taking up a small chunk of your memory.


> Is that what you call crapware?

I called it bloat, not crapware. I did so because I don't use OneDrive, Excel etc, but my phone won't allow me to uninstall them via the conventional way. By my definition that's bloat.


> they're not removed, but they don't impact the system in any way aside from taking up a small chunk of your memory

How are you defining "small"‽

I have Excel installed myself and it shows as 438MB. Word is smaller at 265MB, OneDrive is surprisingly chunky compared to that at 110MB.

I've not got PowerPoint installed and Play store doesn't seem to currently display space requirements of non-installed apps (which I'm sure it previously did).

That might be small on your 128Mb+ device (IIRC the Note 9 doesn't come in smaller variants) but if they are getting pre-installed on 64 or 32Mb devices too, that is more than enough to be a significant issue for users who don't particularly have use for them at all but who do want to use their storage for music/photos/video/... instead of unused apps.


AFAIK, disable apps don't use up any useful memory at all.

These apps sit in the system partition, which is read-only. If you root your phone, you can remount it read-write and remove them. However by doing so, integrity checks will fail. Also you won't be able to use that memory unless you repartition or put other apps there anyways.

The bad news is that if you update pre-installed apps, the original version will stay in the system partition doing nothing while you use the version you downloaded in the data partition.

It was a really big problem with early Android devices like the Nexus One (512 MB of storage).


I would use none of those. How about having the option to install them or not, like normal software?


It's probably worth distinguishing 'bloatware' from 'crapware', even if Wikipedia does consider them synonyms.

Roughly, I'd say that bloatware is anything preinstalled that's not filling a core use-case for the device, plus literally anything unremovable that isn't part of core functionality. So Messages isn't bloatware, but Messages+ and Samsung Health are. The first standard is sort of a fuzzy with general-purpose devices like computers and tablets, the second is pretty clearcut.

Crapware, to my mind, is "bloatware + shovelware". It's preinstalled stuff that's broken, malicious, redundant, or outside of standard use. Samsung Gallery is crappy, Superfish was malicious, VZ Navigator is basically a scam (paid, bad Google Maps), and the NFL app is worthless to a huge fraction of users.

The Office suite is very popular and highly functional, so I'd give it a pass if it could be uninstalled. Since it can't, it's bloatware. OneDrive is on the line; it's a popular complement to Office, but it's vendor-specific in a way that opening documents isn't. (Low-impact is not at all a defense; the 'disabled' state is nice for quick reinstalls, but there's no user-friendly argument for not allowing deletion.)

LinkedIn is absolutely crapware of the worst kind. It can't be uninstalled. It's irrelevant to a huge fraction of users (anyone who doesn't work). Its provided for the benefit of one company in a crowded space, whereas Office is a clear market leader. It's redundant functionality with a simple website, where Office is only partially duplicated by OpenOffice and Google Drive.

And worst of all? It actively hurts users. When LinkedIn lost its user data in 2012, the breach was made substantially worse because their iOs app scraped and uploader user data (including calendar info!) without permission. Permanently preinstalling an app that's largely useless and has already contributed to a major data breach is far outside what I consider acceptable behavior.


If it isnt pure Android, and ships with apps you can't uninstall through normal means, it is crapware.

They shouldn't be installed in the first place. And LinkedIn isn't crapware, it's shitware


Google+ and ancillary Google spyware must be installed by default for playstore compatibility test suite to pass.

Is that pure android? Bloat? Crapware? Or just plain shit?


Apple also ships with a bunch of their apps that I would classify as crapware but unlike on Android I can't replace them as defaults with 3rf party apps of my choosing.


These also happen to coincide with the apps that you can't delete from your device. Apple refuses to give third-party developers access to sensitive APIs, such as those relating to the Phone app or SMS, due to the potential for abuse.


I think this is a valid criticism of stock android phones -- even ones sold directly by Google. But it's a slightly different criticism than the main crapware criticism here because FB is really a 3rd party.

I really do agree with your criticism though. People worry about FB's privacy issues, but then totally overlook all of Google's builtin privacy issues.


My pixel doesn't have google+ installed. But I can use the play store.

And I am not sure what spyware apps you are referring to.


> Is that what you call crapware?

Yes, especially LinkedIn. I do not want any software offered by or affiliated with LinkedIn installed on a device I own.


I'm done with all Samsung products until they get their shit together.

- no upgrades - flat out horrible bugs that are never fixed - bloatware that you can't remove - shoving their apps down my throat.

Just about to buy a new TV and Samsung is explicitly excluded. Next phone won't be a Samsung either. I'm done.


I just make a folder called "poo emoji" and move all undeletable apps there.


I didn't know this. Thank you for the tip. I always wanted to do this.


I had a friend with an undeletable Pizza Hut bookmark in the Samsung web browser. So much for Samsung making 'Premium' smartphones.


That was Vodaphone selling modified Samsung phones:

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=6451265


Yep, and Samsung allowing Vodafone to do that.

Also: I wrote that comment 6 years ago!


No, no! You misunderstand! The "Premium" is a descriptor of what you'll pay for all the bloatware.


it's the Yahoo/SBC Global toolbar of mobile


I never dove too deep into trying to uninstall undesirable apps from my android phones because I thought rooting a phone was necessary. But now seeing this, am curious to try it on a few old phones that i use as podcast/mp3 playing devices while mowing the lawn, etc. Thanks for sharing this!


If they are old phones anyway, you might aswell just root them.


For anyone who can't/won't use ADB, check out Package Disabler:

https://www.packagedisabler.com/


Isn't this just the same as disabling them from the apps interface or does it physically remove it from the system partition?

There is however one I can't disable in my sony phone (what's new) and even if I've managed to completely silence it I'd like to try with this method. Maybe it can do it even if the UI doesn't want to :)


From some googling it doesn't appear that you are actually physically removing the app, from xda-developers:

these uninstalled system applications can/will come back after a factory reset. This is a good thing, however, as it means that these applications truly aren’t being uninstalled from the device, they are just being uninstalled for the current user (user 0 is the default/main user of the phone). That’s why, if you omit the “–user 0” and “-k” part of the command, the command won’t work. These two commands respectively specify that the system app will only be uninstalled for the current user (and not all users, which is something that requires root access) and that the cache/data of the system application will be preserved (which can’t be removed without root access). Therefore, even if you “uninstall” a system application using this method, you can still receive official OTA updates from your carrier or OEM. [0]

[0] https://www.xda-developers.com/uninstall-carrier-oem-bloatwa...


Great tip, thanks.

TIL: adb shell has all sorts of goodies, so I went for the one-liner:

    pm list packages com.facebook | sed 's/package://' | xargs -n 1 -- pm uninstall -k --user 0
(There's a spurious warning at the end, seems their `xargs -n` likes adding a newline: `ls | xargs -n 1`)


If you have to insist on getting an Android device, why not just stick with Google? Is it because of the lack of public awareness that this doesn't happen on Google devices? or does it happen as well?


If I uninstall via adb, does it usually reinstall when updating apps?

Thanks for the tip.


No, at least not through the official Android Play store.

I don't know about the other application stores such as Samsung's 'Galaxy Apps' store, which is particularly intrusive. It is known for auto-installing apps even if you didn't ask for it. The best solution would be to delete Galaxy Apps store itself. Unless you use it voluntarily of course, but who does?


I have an s8 on the table next to me collecting dust over issues like that. If only they would let you unlock the bootloader for a lineage install it would be a good phone.


Oh, I just spent a lot of time trying to root a phone just to get rid of Wiko's constantly nagging "helper" tool and failed. I'll now try this for sure!


Happens everywhere, you can't uninstall "Xbox" nor "Xbox gaming overlay" from a Windows 10 machine, Microsoft old habits never truly die I guess.


I spend a lot less time (zero time most likely) in Apple’s products dealing with malware, except for that time they added that music album for some stupid reason.


Whatever Microsoft stuff was on there was probably added by the carrier. I purchased an unlocked S9 directly from Samsung and it did not have any Microsoft apps.


It goes all the way back to 8 and 16 bit pack bundles.

The thing is, that back then it was quite easy to just ignore the tapes or floppies that we didn't care about.


That work without root?


God bless you for this


I wouldn't worry too much about Microsoft apps.

Android itself and its integration with the Google ecosystem can also be considered malware or spyware ...


Ah yes, see my other comment about Foursquare ads in Samsung Gallery app (was not able to have Exodus Privacy analyze it).


This story (and from different outlets) is now all over the press, which is great.

Can I add another qualm in a similar vein? It involves Samsung TV's. I'm convinced Samsung is increasingly mean.

I only use streaming services (Netflix, et. al.), and for the past year I've been pretty pleased with "Smart TV" functionality, which makes life easy. That is, until the following happened. After a recent update, the TV:

* Now starts up automatically onto some broadcast TV station, I think it's some sports station. There is No Way to turn this off, because it's not an app, but a new functionality built into the TV. By "broadcast TV" I don't mean the old-school antenna or cable, I mean the equivalent of live broadcast TV streaming via the Internet. If I turn the TV off, for example, while the YouTube app is up, when it turns back on, I get that streaming broadcast crap again.

* The broadcast crap has commercials, and sound on.

* Ads have ALSO popped up in place of one of the "buttons" in the Apps menu.

You're not enraged yet? Let me save the best for last:

* When using the voice functionality on the remote during a search (either on YouTube or someplace), a popup jumped up telling me that I needed to accept THREE terms and conditions (three checkmarks), and click OK, or I could not use the voice functionality. The TOC involved aggregating my searches and data for ad purposes, and it said something about other Samsung devices. Luckily, I don't own any.

I went back to plugging my PC into the TV.

Folks, please do not buy any Samsung products.


The idea (and implementation) of Smart TVs is very frustrating to me, so I'm glad to see others reaching this conclusion--

> I went back to plugging my PC into the TV.

It's a perfect example of what Stallman has always warned us about -- companies using software in products to control and exploit us rather than empower us. All the things you mention, planned obsolescence, and more.


I have a Roku for these and many other reasons. I have never seen or touched a smart TV that didn’t suck in multiple ways, even if it was just the laggy as hell Java interface.

I’m not saying the Roku is perfect, it’s far from it (and I’d love to be able to give them feedback), but at least if they piss me off I can throw their device in the trash and replace it with an Apple TV, Google Chromecast, Amazon Fire, etc. and still have a perfectly well functioning 4K TV.


Since it's relevant to the topic conversation, only use a Roku if you're blocking its outgoing requests. It sends out an insane amount of outbound data that goes beyond just your viewing habits (e.g. wifi name, "connection data") [1].

Installing pi-hole reveals how noisy a Roku is [2].

[1] - https://docs.roku.com/doc/userprivacypolicy/en-us [2] - https://imgur.com/a/n5zcAwl


Unfortunately, my Roku TV displays a big fat ad on the home screen. Incredibly infuriating considering how expensive the TV is. Need to change my DNS to one of those ad blocking ones soon.


My parents have unfortunately decided to buy a Samsung TV, so the first thing I did was to tell them to never connect it to the internet. We have an Apple TV connected to it and the TV spends most of its time in HDMI 1.


All of the above is why I don't use the smart features on my LG TV. webOS is nice, and there are apps for the services in my country, but I don't want my viewing experience held hostage by the whims of the manufacturer. Once they've made the TV, the only part they have to play in my continued usage of it is warranty repairs.

Fortunately, my Apple TV 4K also has the relevant apps for the services available in my country, and neither LG nor any other manufacturer whose TV I may decide to purchase in future can gain any telemetry or force any workflow on it.

The dedicated Netflix and Amazon Prime buttons on my remote never get a look in.


Never, ever give your TV access to the Internet.

The OS that runs on those things is such unmitigated shit, whether it's LG, Samsung, Vizio, anything. Just use it as a dumb display.

At least if I have an xbox one driving it I can be reasonably confident that microsoft has a highly vested interest in staying up to date on security patches. And whatever data collection I've opted into/out of has been vetted by people in Redmond. Use a home theatre PC to drive all other needs.


I was exceptionally displeased to find this functionality on all the Samsung TVs at my vacation home this winter. Threw a FireTV Cube on all of them and couldn’t be happier with the experience. IMO, it’s cable box integration is one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen. But I’d suggest you checkout the FireTV 4K if you don’t have cable


Thanks for the heads up, I will make sure I never install updates on my Samsung TV.


This is nothing new. Google especially has been in this position since the start of Android.

I have quite a list of apps that I’ve disabled but can’t uninstall: Chrome, Drive, Galaxy Apps, Gmail, Google Play Movies & TV, Google Play Music, Google Text-to-speech engine, Hancom Office Viewer, Launcher3, Memo, Photo Screensavers, S Planner, Samsung Billing, Samsung Push Service, TalkBack, Weather, YouTube. I’m going to try LeonM’s technique to see if I can in fact uninstall them without rooting the device (which I have failed to accomplish; it seems to me that you’re basically stuck if you don’t use a flagship device, and my Samsung J1 (2016) isn’t flagship).

Then there are plenty of others that I’d like to disable but can’t; including but not at all limited to: Email, Email, Email composer, Email storage, Email sync, Internet, S Planner, Samsung account, Samsung Cloud Data Relay.


Samsung devices are the worst. When I had an S8, I ran a toolkit that would constantly remove (and re-remove when it appeared again) almost all of the Samsung crapware, but even that is subpar since you need some of it like their Health product for basic phone features to work.

Samsung is by far the worst at it. I won't buy their phones anymore.


Recently got an s9 and there's a whole button I can't use because it is bound to the "Launch Bixby" function. I'm not exactly sure what Bixby is or does, some sort of voice control (but I already have google now?), but it requires me to have a samsung account to use, which I don't want/need.

So, unused button. Wish I could bind it to camera or something, no such luck.


> So, unused button. Wish I could bind it to camera or something, no such luck.

The reddit thread about this story mentions an app "bxActions" that sees to be doing exactly that and might be worth a look: https://www.reddit.com/r/technology/comments/ae265u/samsung_...


I'd only consider a device in 2019 that has really strong LineageOS support. The OEM will never support the phone for more than a few years, but well cared for devices (especially with replacable, if not easily removable, batteries) can last a decade or more.


> This is nothing new. Google especially has been in this position since the start of Android.

Yes, my Nexus One phone from 2010 had Facebook pre-installed.

To add insult to injury, it had a ridiculously small amount of flash storage, so I had to choose between using precious space or foregoing any security updates that might be in newer versions.


I'm glad this story has gone viral recently. Hopefully there will be more pressure to stop this practice.

I've been using Android for a number of years now and between the handset manufacturers and the wireless providers, there has been undeletable crapware since the beginning. I've been slowly modifying my behavior in response. I stopped buying phones directly from the wireless providers (e.g. Verizon). This has noticeably improved my experience. Every time I upgrade my phone, I look into the Google flagship Android phones, but they always have some critical flaws that drive me to buy the Samsung Galaxy phones. The same thing happened a few months ago when I chose the Galaxy S9+ over the Pixel 3's. I also always think about switching to Apple iPhone, since I do think they take user experience and privacy more seriously than Google Android.

While I'm on the subject. Samsung, please get rid of Bixby and all of your crappy Samsung apps. I hate the feeling that there's two OS's loaded on my phone... the Android layer and the Samsung layer (which I never use but always get prompted for unless I figure out how to disable it).


I don't think all Samsung apps are "crappy". I quite enjoy using some of them like Samsung Health and Secure Folder. What needs to end is preloading so many duplicate apps and then preventing the user from removing them easily.

Personally, I can live with this situation since I can always remove what I don't like with adb, and I quite enjoy a lot of the features and changes that Samsung added on top of stock Android.


> What needs to end is preloading so many duplicate apps

That is not possible. They can either have only the google apps (great, just like ancient IE monopoly times) or "duplicate apps", but they can not omit the google apps if they want google play.

Also, preinstalls matter very much as can be clearly seen in the market share of IE, edge, chrome and safari.


You only quoted the first half of their sentence. They said duplicate apps are only an issue when you aren't allowed to remove the one (or both) that you don't use.


> Samsung, please get rid of Bixby and all of your crappy Samsung apps.

Samsung, please don't. Even if they are not great, having some counter to google's monopoly position is sorely needed.

... but then couldn't they just ship their internet browser or chrome and not both? No, they can't due to google's oppressive contract, which is what the EU fine was about.


How about shipping with Firefox pre-installed? I mean, there are lots of androids that come with two or three different versions of Webkit, so why not bring a Browser that is a real alternative.

AFAIK, mobile Chrome still has the better dev-tools, but from an end-user perspective, being able to install plugins for your mobile browser (like ublock origin) without having to root the phone is a real competitive edge.


I keep going back to Motorola. Their phones can be bought retail, no relationship to a carrier, and almost everything can be removed or disabled. No crappy skin either.

They aren't the best with updates, sadly.


While I like using FB, this is type of behavior by Android OEMs that largely drove me to the iPhone. The main reason I rooted my phone prior was to get rid of crappy apps I don't use from being on my screen.

Around 4-5 years ago, Android phone manufacturers started locking down their phones more while not letting them be rooted. They didn't solve the problem of having undeleteable apps waste my time & space with clear advertising plays.

After my experience with the Galaxy S5, I quickly jumped to the iPhone 6 when it came out, and haven't looked back. I've used Android for a period of time in parallel with a second phone, but it only confirmed my reasoning for bailing for the iPhone - the Android experience is just way behind.


I've been an iPhone user for a decade and am a huge Apple fanboy, but even with that bias, I have to say this is a load of crap. Apple has been adding loads of undeletable bloat since forever. they only really let you start deleting the Apple pre-installed apps very recently. I still have a folder on my devices called "iCrap."


There's a huge difference between Apple's built in apps and the third party apps doing who knows what background processing/data mining on phone usage. The effects on performance such as battery life is very noticeable.


This is what I want to know; If you get a brand new device and it has FB app installed - but if you never open it or use FB, does that app still monitor things like browsing activity and report anything back to FB?


Aren't android and iOS apps mostly sandboxed? It would be news to me if AppX could access browsing information from Chrome, at least without asking you for permission. Apps can't access folder i/o without permission, surely they can't monitor browsing history without permission.


iOS apps are heavily sandboxed (and given next to no process time when backgrounded).

Android apps are a bit more free, that leads to a lot of apps being good at talking to each other. But the cost is that your sandbox is less sandboxy.

Permissions are a moot point when you're talking about bundled apps because they're already going to be approved for all permissions.


Bloatware != preinstalled OS software. There are 0 preinstalled third-party apps on the iPhone.


iOS came with Facebook and Twitter not too long ago, not to mention Yahoo Weather, Google Maps, and a bunch of others. https://www.axios.com/apple-removes-facebook-and-twitter-int...


Those were system integration frameworks, specifically so you could sign in to your social networks in Settings. The apps were never preloaded.


> Those were system integration framework

In other words, applications that do far more than the stub on Samsung phones, and not only could they not be deleted, but they couldn't be disabled either, so they always showed up in Settings. https://www.cnet.com/how-to/understanding-facebook-integrati...


I still remember them automatically downloading a U2 album to everyone's phone. They are definitely not without fualt in this area.


It's the carriers that want the phones locked down so that they can have their bloatware installed and irremovable, Verizon in particular is the most notorious for mandating this. Additionally, among manufactures, Samsung wants to appeal to enterprise and gov environments and so also has their own suite of security features branded as KNOX and typically locked the bootloaders of the American/Snapdragon models.

The good news is that you can buy almost any Android phone off Amazon and with the exception of Samsung it is most likely bootloader unlockable. Motorola is especially good in this regard.


Google recognizes this issue, which is part of the drive behind bringing Android One to the high-end phone market. This is a branding designation that Google sells to OEMs that requires them to drop almost all bloatware:

> Android One is a series of smartphones that run the unmodified Android operating system. It is a hardware and software technical standard created by Google intended to provide a consistent user experience and improved security through frequent updates and Google Play Protect. Android One was launched in 2014 and focused on entry-level devices for emerging markets, but later evolved into Google's principal mobile program.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Android_One

I have an LG G7 One (the Android-One version of the LG G7), and I'm very pleased with it.


Almost all non-Google* bloatware.

I'm using an Android One phone as well, but there's still a dozen or so of Google's apps that I would like to be able to remove.

I chose less bloatware as well, but let's not pretend that there's no bloatware in Android One.


That's fair, although I think this reduces the bloat below Apple levels.


> Google recognizes this issue, which is part of the drive behind bringing Android One to the high-end phone market.

Sorry, did you mean "low-end" here? Because the Pixel serves the high-end market quite well, I think.


No, Android One has been on the low-end market for many years. It's being extended to the high-end market only relatively recently. I don't believe any model of Pixel has been Android One. ("Android One" is not synonymous with "stock Android" like on the Pixel.)


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