Friday, August 21, 2015

Great News! Your Next Android Will Have Less Bloatware!

There's something special about getting a new phone. You open it up, take a whiff of that "new phone smell", and then fire it up so you can start playing with all the new apps and features that your old phone only dreamed about having. But then you start to realize that there are a lot of apps pre-loaded on your new phone that you don't necessarily want or need. And the worst part about it is that there's absolutely nothing you can do to get them off (unless you jailbreak your phone, which isn't advisable).

This has been the woe of many a smartphone user, the dreaded bloatware that comes pre-installed on every new device. While there's nothing you can do about the bloatware on your current smartphone, I do have some good news for you! Your next Android phone is going to come with fewer pre-loaded apps! Which means less bloatware!

The first showing of this was the Galaxy Note 5 from Samsung. As you may have heard, the Note 5 comes without Googl+ pre-installed. Some people see this as more proof that Google's social media platform is all but dead though it's really only one of several Google apps that are no longer required to be included by smartphone developers.

What a lot of people don't understand is that Google writes and updates Android itself, giving away the source code to anyone. Consumers are able to get their own copy from the Android Open Source Project (AOSP) repository and Google even offers detailed instructions to assist you in building a fully functioning version of Android.

In addition to that, smartphone developers also have access to the Android source code for free and they are also allowed to modify and change any parts of the code that they like. This is how things like Amazon FireOS come to fruition. It's a positive, trust me. Where things differ is when it comes to installing Google's proprietary apps and services.

If a developer wants to include the Google apps suite, which includes the Play Store and Gmail, they need to adhere to a couple of different rules. Once they have modified Android itself to their liking, it has to be tested for compatibility by Google. Once it is approved, the developer is given a package list of apps that they are required to install on the device.

There have been a ton of apps made by Google that a lot of us would rather not have on our devices. Smartphone developers include them because they are a part of that required list. In addition to that, these apps aren't Open Source and they aren't a part of the AOSP. Basically, if you want Gmail or the Play Store then you have to deal with all the other apps you don't want. In terms of business, this is smart and Google isn't the only company to do it. Apple bundles bloatware that a lot of users don't use or want and so does Microsoft. "You will get all the apps and you will like it!" seems to be their motto.

And now for the good news. Recent changes to the rules that smartphone developers are required to follow to get Google approval for their Android builds are allowing for certain apps to no longer be mandatory. Apps like Google Play Games, Google Play Books, Google+ and Google Newsstand join the likes of Google Earth and Google Keep as apps that are no longer mandatory. You can still get them in the Play Store if you truly want them and they will also receive regular updates, but not having them pre-installed is definitely a huge bonus for Android users.

Having pre-installed apps takes up valuable storage space on your device and the less of that we have the better. Unfortunately, we still have to deal with the bloatware that comes from the phone developers themselves. That means any Samsung app, HTC app, LG app, etc... will still be there, as will apps from carriers, like Verizon and Sprint. But while there doesn't seem to be any chance of us getting rid of things like Verizon Navigator or T-Mobile TV anytime soon, we can at least say a not-so-fond farewell to all those Google apps we care nothing about.

Content originally published here
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