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>
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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?)
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.)
Yes, which is why I want full freedom to choose clients and apps that would be doing this on my phone.
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 just deleted the built in Mail app from my iPhone and it worked fine.
The app is deleted, but the frameworks and system assets it relies on are not.
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.
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)
My Nexus5 had "HP Cloud Print".
Which was the reason I installed Cyanogenmod.
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.
Not much of a phone without a phone app.
But Apple does sell an iPhone without a Phone app. It's called an iPod.
No, while it is an AOSP-derivative, it is not Android.
> 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 (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.
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.
The real "problem" was nobody wanted to pay Microsoft for the privilege of having their crap preinstalled.
Today's "Samsung crap" is tomorrow's "Brand-new Android feature that you need to enable Google tracking to use"
Source : I was part of a team whose app was getting primed up for a preload on WP8.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Clarification: this was not the apps; these were system hooks for sharing content through these services.
Thankfully Mac users don't have to put up with this kind of consumer-hostile bullshit.
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.
Right now, I restrict my selection to Android One  phones. The current one is a Nokia 8 Sirocco.
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.
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 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.
Anyone had similar issue?
I always wondered what to replace my Nexus 5 with, thanx for the info.
edit: just checked Ebay, and yup, there are no legit new copies to be had, except for maybe AT&T or unlocked variants for $400+. There's a very low chance that anyone will be/or has been able to find a new LG V20 for at least a year, and almost certainly not for a reasonable price.
It is a similar situation for numerous other smartphones on the used market, most new copies for sale are actually remanufactured/used that have been repackaged and fraudulently resold as new from somewhere [originally] in China. The fake LG V20 new copies began flooding the market somewhere in the past 1-2 years, and have dominated since, but that practice is typical for smartphones in general.
It's definitely intended for AT&T, but worked fine with Three in the UK as soon as I entered the appropriate APN info and restarted.
Here's a relisting, for what it's worth :
Like the packaging shown in that Ebay link is incorrect for an AT&T variant. AT&T almost never uses OEM packaging, instead they use some weird gimpy branded boxes of their own. If it didn't come in a box like this, then it was a fraudulently repackaged and was not new:
Also the printed inserts should have AT&T branding on them, and will include AT&T-specific inserts. The flood of fraudulent LG V20s usually include generic international versions of the printed inserts. Watch for the IMEI label on the box being pasted over with another label, to hide the ID numbers of the device the box originally came with.
Just because its not new doesn't mean it might not work fine, it just means you'll likely never get warranty coverage; or if you do get LG to accept it once they examine in-house for repair you're probably boned.
Is this basically considered stock Android? Or is that yet another tier?
It's actually a different phone than the non Android one version.
But for the first time in 15 years I think I might consider a Nokia next time I go shopping...
The new 7.1 with 64gb is not available at all here. Only through imports with an 110$ surcharge.
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.
You got exactly NONE updates from google. "Android One" has a requirement for vendors to provide updates. All those updates were from xiaomi.
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.
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.
If that's not bloatware then I don't know what is
No idea about whatsapp though.
I just want a good Android phone with at least some level of enhanced privacy. Its such a pity Copperhead went kinda weird.
And ancient = bad? Boy, do I have some bad news about power sockets you have at home.......
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.
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.
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'.
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.
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.
The other examples are reasonable.
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.
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
adb shell pm uninstall --user 0 com.package.name
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.
I still use that crap, unfortunately, but am looking for replacement for both mobile OS and smartphone (probably Fairphone with /e/ or LineageOS).
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?
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.
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.
- 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 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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
They shouldn't be installed in the first place. And LinkedIn isn't crapware, it's shitware
Is that pure android? Bloat? Crapware? Or just plain shit?
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.
And I am not sure what spyware apps you are referring to.
Yes, especially LinkedIn. I do not want any software offered by or affiliated with LinkedIn installed on a device I own.
Also: I wrote that comment 6 years ago!
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 :)
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. 
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
Thanks for the tip.
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?
The thing is, that back then it was quite easy to just ignore the tapes or floppies that we didn't care about.
Android itself and its integration with the Google ecosystem can also be considered malware or spyware ...