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Android for Beginners: Bloatware

Joel W.
11

Bloatware: Junk apps on your device that you don't need and can't delete. They slow down your system and eat up valuable storage space. What can you do about it?

AndroidPIT Android For Beginners
 © AndroidPIT

What is Bloatware?

If you’ve ever heard the term “bloatware,” you might be wondering what it means. You probably have already run across the stuff on your own Android device, though. My personal dictionary defines it as apps the manufacturer shipped with your Android device that you don’t want. Many manufacturers are at fault for this, but Motorola is one of the worst, closely followed by Samsung. Whether it’s Samsung’s own app store (why do they even have that?) or the fifteen thousand random apps that came on every Motorola phone I ever owned, I don’t want them. Honestly, I don’t even want Google Play Books on my phone unless I myself choose to install it.

fatphone
Bloatware: It fattens your phone / © AndroidPIT

The trouble is, bloat apps take up space, slow down the system, and worst of all, can’t be deleted by normal means. Custom interfaces are equally annoying in my mind. With Samsung, we have TouchWiz, and with Motorola, it’s Motoblur. There’s a reason developers spend so much time and effort debloating their ROMs. It’s because we the people don’t want manufacturers telling us what we “need” on our phones and tablets. Frankly, if I had a choice, I’d ask for my device to come with nothing but the Google Play Store on it. Let me choose what apps to download. This is especially a problem here in the US, where for some reason the base model phones and tablets have 16 GB or less of internal storage for apps, operating system, and so on.

AppsPolemicas
I don't want junk apps! / © AndroidPIT

What can I do about it?

If you want to free your phone of these unnecessary features, you’re in luck, IF you want to root your phone. Rooting is a story for another time, but it allows you to do things the manufacturers would prefer you didn’t, like deleting apps that are considered “system” apps. Bloatware falls under that category, even though none of it is necessary for the system to run properly. The alternative, of course, is to buy a Nexus 7, which comes free of just about any bloat. A limited choice, but it’s also hands down the best small tablet out there.

So, now that you know what bloatware is, what’s your opinion on it? Like it? Don’t mind it? Or, like me, do you want that crud off your device pronto?

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  • Amy R. Oct 24, 2013 Link

    Right on Joel, I HATE Bloatware! It's about the only reason I truly have root my note. I don't do social networking, chat, Samsung has one pathetic app market, and don't use any Google services besides Gmail.

    Although most manufacturer bloatware you can't do much other than disable it, most cellular provider bloatware you can do something about without even rooting! I've successfully gutted ALL cellular provider bloatware using Ghost Commander version 1.43.3. Freed up a couple gigs of space. It take a little technical savvy and a little trial and error, but it is possible. As far as redirecting the path and removing the app shell does require root access though.........

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    Henrique Rocha Oct 25, 2013 Link

    What you're considering bloatware doesn't take up space because they're installed in the /system partition and you can't install nothing there. So, even if you delete all the supposed bloat, you don't gain any extra space. The reason why you can't uninstall that "bloat" is because the /system partition needs to be read-only so that you can do a factory reset.

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  • Amy R. Oct 25, 2013 Link

    @Henrique, It does free up ram though..............

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    Henrique Rocha 11 months ago Link

    @Amy: No, RAM is only used by running apps, running services or stopped apps. If you want to run an app and you don't have enough RAM, Android will kill one or more stopped apps. For example, you're reading your email in Gmail so Gmail is using RAM, you get a phone call, Gmail is immediately stopped but it still uses RAM to be faster to resume it after the phone call. If you didn't have enough memory to launch the phone app for example, Gmail would be destroyed, assuming that you didn't have more apps stopped. It's a little bit more complicated than that, but it's a good enough explanation.

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  • Amy R. 11 months ago Link

    @Henrique, thank you for the explanation.

    -One thing that doesn't makes sense though.

    I understand the partition and the reserved portion of the memory will always contain that bloatware unless I was the access root and unistall after the doing so.
    I also understand that on the other side of the partiton is your modified image file.
    Even understanding that, why is it, after I gutted all the US Cellular bloatware, the memory itself says I have so much more free space then I had before? It vastly improved the speed and performance. It obviously did something when it came to the image file.....

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    Henrique Rocha 11 months ago Link

    The amount of free memory depends on when you measure it and it has nothing to do with the number of installed apps. If you measure the amount of free memory after booting the phone, it should much bigger than after using some apps. When you say "vastly improved", I would actually need numbers to confirm that, and not only based on user perception of speed. I'm sure that removing "bloatware" doesn't improve the performance of the phone. It's exactly the same as in a desktop computer. The amount of apps you have installed, don't affect the system performance, only the amount of apps that you have running at the same time. In a Windows environment you just need to make sure that there is enough space for the swap file but in a Linux environment for example, since you have a dedicated swap partition, the number of installed apps will never affect system performance, just like in Android, which is also a Linux environment but doesn't use swapping.

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  • Amy R. 11 months ago Link

    Exactly, it only affects the amount of apps you have running at the same time!!!!!

    This does *Vastly Improve* the running process. I've used Linux for years and know how these modifications would enhance performance and speed. I don't need you over seeing my math skills to confirm that.

    I don't need to explain how too many apps running background processes will bog down your machine over time. What I disabled and gutted was constantly running in the background and I didn't use them and it had NO direct connection to the system process itself.

    With that being said, Yes, it will affect system performance.

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  • Philipp Junghannß (My1) 11 months ago Link

    @Amy I think you're right those bloatware is always pushung itself somehow into the RAM and it's annoying.
    about freeing space from Bloat, you both should consider that bloatware can be in either the system or the Data partition. for example Some of the Note 2 bloatware was probably in the data partition because it was normally uninstallable...

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    Henrique Rocha 11 months ago Link

    @Phillip: All bloatware needs to be installed in the /system, not /data because the bloatware needs to be there if you do a factory reset. Usually most apps have ways to disable background services. If they don't, Android will kill them if you actually need more RAM. Android is pretty good at managing RAM so don't worry about running out of it, Android will take care of it and you won't even notice.

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  • Philipp Junghannß (My1) 11 months ago Link

    OK I pretty know that much and that's why I have been wondering why you actually can uninstall some of that. maybe they are zipped in the system and extracted to data during first start (or after wipe) so they can be uninstaled...

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  • Amy R. 11 months ago Link

    @ Philipp- They are zipped down. I may be able to gut out some of the cellular provider bulk, but it is still technically there due to the partitioning. The image after boot remains what I altered. The cellular provider bulk was put in as an afterthought which was why I could do what I did. As for the Samsung bulk, there was no alternative other then disabling (if it allows me to) or force stopping after boot. If I was to hard reset, it would all come back. That's why I would need root to completely uninstall for good (zip and all). I've found, the only nonroot way around this was to install a firewall (one that occupies vpn client) that allows you to choose what apps you allow and restict background data to. My firewall uses far less system data then everything I have blocked with it.

    @Henrique- What you're saying is true, but the Android is only set to compensate after a particular point. There will be a noticeable lag before that though. A lot of background data has to be going on until it would get to that point for the Android. How much exactly, not sure but I know you do.

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