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Android 5.0 Lollipop will let you remove carrier bloatware

I'm so excited for the final version of Android 5.0 Lollipop that I'm buzzing out of my skin in anticipation. Even having a Nexus 5 and knowing it's only a matter of days away isn't enough to stop me frantically reading everything I can find about what else might be included in the final version of Android 5.0. So how excited do you think I was to have Android execs confirm that Android 5.0 Lollipop will let you remove carrier bloatware?

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Some OEMs like Motorola are also pushing more apps to the Play Store. © AndroidPIT

The confirmation came from an interview Ron Amadeo over at Ars Technica recently did with a few key Android guys, namely Dave Burke, VP of Engineering for Nexus and Android, Gabe Cohen, the Product Manager for team Android and Brian Rakowski, the VP of product management. The critical point came quite accidentally when Dave Burke mentioned Play Auto-Installs:

Ars: Play Auto Installs? What?

Burke: So the idea is as part of setup, Verizon might have some apps that you want like an app that tells you how much you used that month in terms of charges. There's legitimate use cases where you want apps, but you also want those apps to be treated like any other app. What happens now is when you've got a Verizon SIM in the device, it actually installs Verizon apps as part of the setup flow, and then you can remove them if you want as part of the Play Infrastructure. And Verizon can update it.

Cohen: They're not on the system partition.

Ars: Oh ok, so you can remove them?

Cohen: Yes.

Bloatware is the bane of every non-Nexus device owner's Android life. When your manufacturer slaps several of their own apps on top of the perfectly good ones that Google already provides, and then your carrier feels the need to slap even more on, it can feel like most of your app allowance has been used up before you even get to installing Candy Crush Saga. But it seems that Android 5.0 Lollipop will give you the option to uninstall completely - not just disable - pre-installed apps.

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We're not sure if OEMs will also make pre-installed apps hsitory, but it would be nice. © Ars Technica

Of course, the interview doesn't delve into specifics, so we don't know how far the new world order extends, like whether or not Samsung's suite of apps that duplicate Google's apps can also be removed or if the removal option only pertains to carrier bloatware. Either way, it's a big step, and one we've been increasingly seen OEMs taking on their own, from Motorola posting their apps in the Play Store, to HTC making various Sense and Zoe features available via the Play Store as well and LG making some pre-installed apps on the LG G3 removable..

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LG made some pre-installed apps removable and Samsung has limited the apps on the Galaxy Note 4. © AndroidPIT

The benefits are immense: apps can be updated individually (and patches pushed) extremely quickly via a simple Play Store update as opposed to being included as part of an infrequent firmware update. It also gives owners the possibility to remove bloatware apps, providing a massive amount of freedom to only keep the apps they actually want on their device. Because these apps are installed at setup, and not pre-installed on the system partition, you even get to reclaim the storage space they would have otherwise chewed up (even if you removed them using root). This is a great day for Android, especially for those users locked down with a carrier.

Update: Sadly, carrier apps are required to be installed on a specific part of the phone to allow them to be removed, and that, uh, hasn't happened. At least Google was committed to the idea though.

What do you think of this change? Do you think all OEMs should offer removable bloatware?


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  • The real news here is the new push updates method. That will be a major step to carriers update schedules. And were is the Do No Evil stuff? Google is providing a way to uninstall carriers apps, but wants to force is own bundle of 20(!) locked apps? Crazy...

    • That makes no sense. Any OS you install will offer typically an email client, browser, messaging app, gallery app, etc. Just look at iOS or Windows Mobile, or indeed OS-X, Ubuntu or Windows OS.

      Android is one of the most configurable, easily-rootable mobile OSes out there, so if you're technically minded you can easily root and install/uninstall to your hearts content.

      It would be a more 'evil' experience for the average non technical user, to provide none of these utility apps, and make the user have to download them all themselves.

      • Perhaps i haven't explained as intended: Google already announced that manufacturers will be asked to include a Google's 20 App bundle - which cannot be uninstalled. And on the same move, it will be possible to easily uninstall carriers bloatware in a snap.
        I agree when you say that ano OS offers a bunch of apps out-of-the-box. That's cool and saves average users a lot of time dealing with downloads, setups, and so on. That's not my point.

      • OK, didn't realise that was the case. It seems a bit unfair to not allow default uninstallation of those apps.

        On the other hand, if you root the phone, you will be able to remove them.

        On balance, I'd prefer Google versions of those apps than manufacturer versions, but I'm very much bought into the Google ecosystem.

      • I love the Google's ecosystem also and actively using it since Gmail's first incarnation - ho, and i root all my devices :) But average users are stuck without opt-out option at SO level. It gets worst when bloatware is intended to replace stock apps and there's not an easy way of getting rid of it. OEM's *and* Google should really offer those apps as a separate download or as a bundled pack, for example.

      • I hear you. I'm all for users having total control over their experience. On the other hand, you need to protect some users from themselves ;) I know people who would easily remove apps and then wonder 'why isn't my email working?'

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