Nowadays, if you buy a new phone, it is pre-loaded with tons of software. These may include a health tracker you never asked for or a voice assistant that you hardly ever use. The first thing that comes to mind is that you delete these apps. But when you try to do this you realize that these apps, that you never need, cannot be removed.
Software that comes pre-installed on a system without user permission and can’t be deleted by the user either is known as Bloatware. To get rid of this baggage, one has to gain root access to the device. They, not only take up space on your device but also slows down the device in some cases if they continuously run in the background. It has also been found that several such apps are responsible for extracting personal information without user consent. Apps like Truecaller are known to send personal information to their servers and to a lot of technology giants like Twitter and Facebook.
Why does Bloatware exist?
Now, if this bloatware is causing so many problems to the end-user, why are manufacturers even installing it. The primary reason is that the premium version of certain apps can be a potential revenue stream and putting their products ahead of the competition by pre-installing them can also woo the user in their direction.
A lot of software developing companies pay device manufacturers to pre-install their apps on devices, which is another monetary incentive for manufacturers. Due to this reason, budget Android phones have more bloatware compared to relatively costlier devices. Companies increase their profit margins on their budget phones by installing bloatware on the devices. In more recent instances, Realme devices were found to be showing their users advertisements. Bloatware is also used for data extraction. Sometimes popular apps like Facebook are preinstalled on some android devices. Even though these apps look like the ones on the play store they are not. These apps which are pre-installed on devices have different libraries installed in them which are not there on the ones available on the play store. These libraries are used to extract personal information and then sold to marketing companies for targeted advertising.
Bloatware force the user to keep the apps, whether they like it or not. Hence, a considerable number of the users do not look for alternatives to these apps and the software developing company gets more users for their apps by default — making it easier for them to penetrate the market.
Also Read: What is a Spyware and ways to counter it
Can you get rid of Bloatware?
It is very difficult to get rid of Bloatware as it is embedded in the firmware of the device. The only way to get rid of it is to gain root access to the device. But there are a few ways which can help you get rid of it although not entirely. These methods do not remove Bloatware but hide it so that the user cannot see them.
Some companies like Apple use cloud storage for their Bloatware. So a user can unload the app from the device. This won’t remove the app completely but free up the space the app takes.
Companies like Samsung provide ways of hiding certain apps. This feature can be used to hide these apps but it doesn’t free up the space that they take. It helps with decluttering the phone and helps to give it a better look and easier accessibility.
Some smartphone manufacturers also allow users to delete certain pre-loaded apps, which can later be downloaded via Play Store if need be. Also one can use launchers like the Nova Launcher and then hide the bloatware using the same. If you’re looking for phones with minimal to no bloatware, check out Android One devices or Google’s Pixel range.
Also Read: Ransomware vs Malware vs Spyware