Lose the bloatware for good
When you buy an Android phone, it usually comes with preinstalled software. This software can be useful, or it can be an annoying drain on your phone’s battery and processor. If you’re sick of this “bloatware,” here’s how to get rid of it.
What Is Bloatware?
“Bloatware” is the nickname for software that comes preinstalled on phones. Usually there are two sets; software suites installed by the manufacturer, and software installed by your network provider. This can range from potentially useful apps such as standard apps like Visual Voicemail to apps you don’t want, such as streaming services or step tracking apps. There might even be apps you won’t even notice until they’re pointed out to you, like a custom “skin” on Android that customizes how your phone works. It may also be apps or content that a third party, such as a music service, have paid to pre-install on your phone.
In some cases, bloatware is simply obnoxious; you can ignore it. In other cases, it may cause your Wi-Fi signal, battery, and other resources to run even if you don’t open the app. If your phone is slowing down or draining fast, you may find deleting or disabling bloatware will restore your phone.
In other cases, however, it can be dangerous. Bloatware has been shown to offer security loopholes that can potentially allow hackers to take over various pieces of your phone or even completely lock you out of it. And it gets worse: While some bloatware can be deleted using a simple process, other types will refuse to be deleted and in some cases refuse even to be disabled. So how do you get rid of it?
How To Uninstall Android Apps Through The Settings App
First, you should see how much of the bloatware can be removed.
Open your Settings app, choose the General tab, and select Apps and Notifications.
Tap on the offending app. At the top will be two buttons, Uninstall and Force Stop. The buttons will be lit if they’re active, and grey if they’re not usable. Press Uninstall to remove it. Apps you can’t uninstall will be labeled Disable or have the Uninstall button greyed out. Make a note of these for later.
Uninstall Apps Through The Google Play Store
If you’d prefer not to use the settings app, you can also uninstall apps through the Google Play Store.
Open the Google Play Store and open the menu. Tap My Apps & Games and then Installed. This will open a menu of apps installed in your phone. Tap the app you want to remove and it will take you to that app’s page on the Google Play Store. Tap Uninstall.
Warning: Note that on the Play store, “uninstall” sometimes will only uninstall updates from the app, not the app itself. In this case, you’ll also need to disable it.
Disable Bloatware And Other Pre-Installed Apps
If you’re not going to use an app, and aren’t comfortable with some methods we’ll discuss for getting rid of bloatware below, you can limit your risk of security loopholes by disabling these apps. Disabling an app means it won’t run, can’t be “woken up” automatically by other apps, and also shuts down any background processes the app may engage in.
–>> Uninstall all updates from the app through the Google Play store, using the instructions above.
–>> Enter the Settings app, and navigate to the Apps & Notifications menu, tap the app that you want to disable.
–>> Tap Permissions and disable any permissions. This will keep the app in line if you’re forced to enable it later.
–>> Tap the Disable button. You will receive a warning that disabling the app may affect the function of other apps. Make a note of this. It is rare that disabling an app you don’t use will have any effect on your day-to-day phone usage, but it’s not impossible. Press OK and the app will be disabled.
How Can I Remove Bloatware Completely?
In some cases, you may want to remove bloatware completely. In this scenario, your best option is to “root” your phone. We have a full guide to rooting your Android that you can follow, but before you do, we should discuss what rooting is and its pros and cons.
“Rooting” makes you the “superuser” of your phone, from a software perspective. Android is built on Linux, a common open source computer operating system, and in Linux, the “root” is the captain of the device. It approves all apps, actions, and other behaviors a computer engages in.
When you buy a phone from a manufacturer or a carrier, you are often not “root.” This is for a set of reasons; it allows carriers and manufacturers to remotely repair and update a device, for example. Some would argue, however, that this privilege reserved by manufacturers and carriers is abused when it comes to bloatware. In their view, it’s a bit like a landlord demanding you set aside a room for his kids to play in whenever they feel like it, regardless of the damage they might do. Maybe they’ll be quiet, maybe they’ll burn the house down, but why should you be on the hook?
The main upside is you’ll be able to install any variety of Android you please, from Google’s stock version to custom designs such as the NSA’s highly secure “Fishbowl” version that locks down your data completely. The main drawback with rooting the phone is that you will take full responsibility for its operation. Rooting a phone may disable certain security features, prevent you from downloading certain apps, and will potentially open the door to “bricking” your device, that is, disabling it permanently by damaging its software by accident. It also may invalidate or otherwise
Rooting can be done with any number of approaches, such as using a third-party app on your computer to completely wiping your phone’s memory and installing Android from scratch. Our guide (above) can offer more information, but you should choose to root, or not, and how you root your device based on your level of comfort with the technology. If something troubles you, don’t do it.