Non-removable bloatware still plagues Android

Anna Scantlin
Contributing Editor from  Kansas City, MO
| January 24, 2014

If you're a fan of Android, you might have arrived at this article with a pitchfork in one hand and a torch in the other in the anticipation that this article would be nothing more than a raving, ranting, biased piece on how Android is a completely terrible platform all because of this one issue - and while I'm not saying that Android doesn't have their fair share of issues still, I would like to make the disclaimer that I do still love Android despite making my switch to Windows Phone 8 for the time being. But one thing my switch has made me realize is the issue of Android still having that non-removable bloatware issue in many cases.

Bloatware - what is it? If you've never heard the term before, "bloatware" is what techies commonly refer to as software that's neither necessary nor commonly used by the average person. Bloatware on smartphones come in the form of pre-loaded applications from your carrier, manufacturer, or sometimes just companies that sponsor a phone or carrier. The software is there either as an added feature or because they paid to be there; bloatware applications aren't necessary in order for the phone to run. That's also not to say that you wouldn't want to use them, but if it turns out you don't want to use them, when it comes to Android you're likely going to be jumping through some hoops to get rid of them.

And then you have the argument "Well, if you wanted a stock Android experience with no bloatware why don't you just pick up a Nexus?" Which might work some people. But for others, even the $350 Nexus isn't budget enough to be a true budget-savvy phone. I think sometimes we forget about the real low end of the spectrum when it comes to smartphones, which might not be as fast or popular but they still exist and people do want them. 

I do think Android needs to allow the uninstallation of bloatware applications. You can pre-install them all day long - nobody cares about that. But not being able to uninstall them is just plain cruel, especially when more and more phones are nixing the whole microSD card slot and internal memory is becoming more and more prevalent. And aside from the obvious memory-wasting issue, bloatware applications that are never used are just... annoying to have around. It's unnecessary clutter.

That is something I noticed - and liked - about Windows Phone. There were some applications that came preloaded onto my Lumia 928, but I was pleased to find out that even the Verizon and Nokia-specific apps that I wasn't interested in having on my phone were easily deleted by pressing down on the application and deleting it with the single push of a button. It was at that point I had my first "I wish they had this on Android," thought.

Recently South Korea ruled that users must be able to have the option to delete bloatware. It's a move that I hope catches on to other parts of the world because honestly, as much as I love my Galaxy Note 8.0 tablet there's a ton of preloaded applications on there that I have never even touched. Without knowing Android very well, you'll probably be disappointed when you go into app management only to discover that there is absolutely no way to uninstall those applications that are useless to you unless you decide to go ahead and root your phone and install another application that allows you to delete those applications. Without knowing how to root, or wanting to void your warranty for that matter, that can seem like a lot of risky business just to get rid of some applications you could do without. Things could just be made simple by allowing the people who don't use certain applications the option to delete them.

I don't know if that will ever happen, but if South Korea has the ball rolling with their ruling, here's to hoping that it hits other parts of the world too. It would seem like something Android ought to already have, what with being one of the most customizeable platforms in the smartphone industry and whatnot. But you know what they say, better late than never.

Readers, does bloatware bother you? Or have you learned to just deal with it (either by ignoring or rooting/removing) at this point? Let us know your opinions in the comments below!

Images via 3g, Business Insider