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Handhelds Cellphones Google Operating Systems Software

'Bloatware' Becoming a Problem On Android Phones 415

Posted by timothy
from the maybe-they're-just-pregnant dept.
elrous0 writes "According to a recent article in Wired, consumers of many new Android devices (including Samsung's Vibrant and HTC's EVO) are complaining about the increasing presence of something that has plagued consumer PC's for years: Bloatware (or, to use the more kind euphemism, 'Pre-installed software' that the computer manufacturer gets paid to include on a new PC). Unfortunately the bloatware (aka 'crapware') that comes with these phones has a nasty quality not found on even the most bloated PC: it can't be removed. Many angry consumers have begun to complain openly about this disturbing trend."
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'Bloatware' Becoming a Problem On Android Phones

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  • by Slashdot Suxxors (1207082) on Thursday July 22, 2010 @12:32PM (#32992636)
    Root your Android phone and then you can remove it.
  • Shovelware (Score:5, Informative)

    by MrEricSir (398214) on Thursday July 22, 2010 @12:33PM (#32992644) Homepage

    I always thought pre-installed crap was called "shovelware." As in, it's shoveled on there not for functionality's sake, but so some programmer can get a bonus.

  • RageMore (Score:0, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 22, 2010 @12:34PM (#32992662)

    The bloatware is Sprint's doing on the HTC EVO... has nothing to do with Android.

  • by TheRaven64 (641858) on Thursday July 22, 2010 @12:34PM (#32992664) Journal
    Crapware is stuff that is installed by the device manufacturer, usually in exchange for money (although in Android's case possibly so Google can get advertising money later), which is not required by the user and consumes resources. Bloatware is software that does something useful, but does so in a very inefficient way, typically including a large number of superfluous features. They are not the same thing.
  • by zill (1690130) on Thursday July 22, 2010 @12:36PM (#32992712)

    Unfortunately the bloatware (aka 'crapware') that comes with these phones has a nasty quality not found on even the most bloated PC: it can't be removed.

    Not true. On a rooted phone it's as simple as "adb uninstall".

    Of course some users are not technically inclined enough to root their phones, but as it stands the statement is blatantly false.

  • by tepples (727027) <tepples@[ ]il.com ['gma' in gap]> on Thursday July 22, 2010 @12:37PM (#32992730) Homepage Journal

    Guess that'll teach ya to buy GSM only and direct from the manufacturer.

    Too bad for people who live or work in a part of the United States where T-Mobile doesn't have a reliable signal. Verizon and Sprint are CDMA2000, and unlike T-Mobile's "Even More Plus", AT&T doesn't appear to offer a discount on the plan for bringing your own phone.

  • Re:Buy better (Score:5, Informative)

    by Miamicanes (730264) on Thursday July 22, 2010 @12:39PM (#32992772)

    > Guess that'll teach ya to buy GSM only and direct from the manufacturer.

    And have no 3G data service in a shockingly large part of America that isn't even particularly rural (the parts where you might have 3G service if you were to go stand on the roof of your house and orient the phone *exactly* the right way, but can forget about indoor service -- even next to a window. It's a particularly feast-or-famine problem with T-mobile. Due to their spectrum issues, there are quite a few places where the next step down from HSDPA/HSPA+ is GPRS (no EDGE).

    For the most part, if you have Sprint or Verizon, you're going to get at least ISDN-speed 1xRTT data just about anywhere in the country that's within a mile of the nearest paved road, and have decently reliable 3G EVDO service just about everywhere you're likely to care about unless you're a park ranger.

  • Re:Shovelware (Score:3, Informative)

    by frosty_tsm (933163) on Thursday July 22, 2010 @12:49PM (#32992954)

    I always thought pre-installed crap was called "shovelware." As in, it's shoveled on there not for functionality's sake, but so some programmer can get a bonus.

    Shovelware can also include bad software in general. They shovel it out the door, so to speak.

  • Re:I'm Confused... (Score:5, Informative)

    by AndrewNeo (979708) on Thursday July 22, 2010 @12:49PM (#32992964) Homepage

    This is something a lot of people get confused. ("If it's open, why do you have to root it?")

    What it is, is the AOSP [android.com] (Android Open Source Project) is completely open. The source code to the Android tree is right here [kernel.org]. You can do whatever you want with your own build of Android, nobody is stopping you. When it comes to phones, this is where the "openness" ends, other than the manufacturers having to contribute changes back to the source (which they do). However, the build of Android you buy on your phone certainly does not have to be open. The telcos usually want the bootloaders locked so you can't run an "unapproved" build of Android, and the provided builds of Android may include this crap, or even go as far as AT&T does and disable loading applications from anywhere but the Marketplace.

    If you want to avoid the sort of problem like this shovelware/bloatware, make sure to get a phone running stock Android, like the Droid or the Nexus One (for example) that hasn't had the OS itself modified by the manufacturer (like with HTC Sense or Motoblur) or by the carrier (like with the EVO).

  • by 1001011010110101 (305349) on Thursday July 22, 2010 @01:10PM (#32993318)
    A general android exploit working on every phone has been found already: http://c-skills.blogspot.com/2010/07/android-trickery.html [blogspot.com] It comes with source :)
  • Re:Synonyms (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 22, 2010 @01:15PM (#32993406)

    Bloatware used to refer to software that at one time actually was useful. Then they start adding more and more features that also makes the software slower, more buggy, less reliable, etc. Basically it was another way of saying that it's software affected by feeping creaturism [wikipedia.org].

    Vista is bloatware.

    The shovelware, crapware, spyware, malware, etc. are what can come with it when you buy it as part of an OEM package.

  • by SLot (82781) on Thursday July 22, 2010 @01:19PM (#32993448) Homepage Journal

    no, it doesn't.

    On my EVO, I have never used FM Radio or Music, yet both are running in the background after booting.

    Clearly, not using them doesn't mean they don't run and consume resources.

  • by phantomcircuit (938963) on Thursday July 22, 2010 @01:30PM (#32993642) Homepage

    No it's really not. http://unrevoked.com/ [unrevoked.com] point and click.

  • Re:I'm Confused... (Score:4, Informative)

    by AndrewNeo (979708) on Thursday July 22, 2010 @01:32PM (#32993664) Homepage

    I think GPLv3 solved it, but, Android is under the Apache license, not GPL.

  • Re:I'm Confused... (Score:3, Informative)

    by Miamicanes (730264) on Thursday July 22, 2010 @01:56PM (#32994036)

    > You will never get modded up as you deserve. I think this has been the clearest description of the hypocritical
    > thinking Android fans (notice didn't say fanbois...awful term) have vs. iPhone.

    The difference is, we openly and routinely excoriate HTC, Motorola, and the others, bitch about their GPL violations to anyone who'll listen, and compare them to Satan's lovechild for even the smallest transgression. iPhone fans rationalize and justify Apple's behavior, and act like it's somehow shameful to demand full control of your phone.

    Android owners bitch about the difficulty of building an Android distro from scratch without the cooperation of the phone's maker, usuall caused by things like HTC shitting monolithic binary kernel blobs on the curb, sniffing them a few times, and walking away satisfied instead of building their proprietary binary kernel drivers as loadable kernel modules the way they're REQUIRED to under the GPL (so new kernels can be built around them without losing the functionality provided by the .ko modules themselves).

    It's not hard to imagine a few thousand angry Android users staging a protest in the Googleplex parking lot over some perceived betrayal of Android's open ideals. Try to imagine even a few dozen iPhone owners picketing on the sidewalk in front of Apple if AT&T somehow managed to push out an update that revoked root and forcibly reflashed a million jailbroken iPhones. It's almost inconceivable. Even if there were a few dozen angry iPhone owners, they'd be drowned out by the ocean of Normal Users(tm) bleating about how they shouldn't have jailbroken their iPhones in the first place, because jailbroken iPhones makes Steve Jobs sad.

  • Re:I'm Confused... (Score:5, Informative)

    by mchappee (22897) * on Thursday July 22, 2010 @02:08PM (#32994234)

    >You can develop and distribute apps without begging for permission

    The Apple app store has a 96% approval rate and 98% of those are available within a week. No begging required. And for that you get distribution, exposure, hosting and the lion's share of the money.

    > while Apple considers you to be a criminal if you jailbreak

    From the iOS Jailbreak Wiki: "Jailbreaking, according to Apple, voids Apple's warranty on the device, although this is quickly remedied by restoring the device in iTunes." Can you please site your references?

    Haters gotta hate, I guess.
    MC

  • Re:Shovelware (Score:3, Informative)

    by sourcerror (1718066) on Thursday July 22, 2010 @02:26PM (#32994490)

    Shovelware comes from ET for Atari 2600. The cartridges were manufactured in high number because Atari thought that the movie tie-in would translate to high sales, however the game was very poor so it sold poorly. They actually buried millions of cartridges in a landfill in Mexico. [wikipedia.org] It's said to trigger the video game crisis of 1983.

  • Re:I'm Confused... (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 22, 2010 @03:01PM (#32995036)

    > while Apple considers you to be a criminal if you jailbreak

    From the iOS Jailbreak Wiki: "Jailbreaking, according to Apple, voids Apple's warranty on the device, although this is quickly remedied by restoring the device in iTunes." Can you please site your references?

    Apple Says iPhone Jailbreaking is Illegal [eff.org]
    PDF [copyright.gov]

    Now whether it actually is or not, is a completely different question.

  • Re:I'm Confused... (Score:5, Informative)

    by bonkedproducer (715249) <paul@paulcoutureAUDEN.com minus poet> on Thursday July 22, 2010 @04:53PM (#32996706) Homepage Journal
    • "Apple Claims Jailbreaking will Destroy Cell Towers" - ZDNet [zdnet.com]
    • "Apple: Jailbreaking encourages cell tower terrorism, 'catastrophic results'" - Engadget [engadget.com]
    • "Apple also claimed that jailbreaking would pave the way for hackers to alter the Exclusive Chip Identification number that identified the phone to the cell tower, which could enable calls to be made anonymously. Apple said “this would be desirable to drug dealers.”"Wired - Threat Level [wired.com]

    Do I need to continue? Or is the reality distortion field still in effect?

  • Re:I'm Confused... (Score:4, Informative)

    by bonkedproducer (715249) <paul@paulcoutureAUDEN.com minus poet> on Thursday July 22, 2010 @04:54PM (#32996730) Homepage Journal
    Blame the app maker, nothing stops you from posting your APKs everywhere.
  • by breser (16790) on Thursday July 22, 2010 @05:33PM (#32997188) Homepage

    When I first got my EVO i bought into this. Then I downloaded SystemPanel:
    http://android.nextapp.com/site/systempanel [nextapp.com]

    At the time all the features of the pay version were in the unlocked version. So I got to play around with the profiling features. I have since paid for the app.

    This is what I discovered. The Sprint apps don't do jack if you never use them. The only app that actually runs despite me having no need for it is the voicemail app because I don't use Sprint's voicemail.

    What people don't understand is that Android loads applications into memory on the idea that you might use them. Which applications it thinks you might use is based on what you actually use. So when you first get the phone and it doesn't have any history and not many applications loaded on it. There's a very good chance that the Sprint apps are going to be the ones getting cached. The cached apps use no CPU time. They're just in memory in case you decide to run them.

    I've stopped using a task killer, my battery time hasn't gotten worse. Nothing about my phone has really changed.

    In short, yeah it sucks you can't remove those apps and they're taking up space, but they're not hurting performance. They're not even running unless you run them.

    See also this explanation from the developer of the SystemPanel app as to why automated task killing is a bad idea:
    http://android.nextapp.com/site/systempanel/doc/autokill [nextapp.com]

  • by donny77 (891484) on Thursday July 22, 2010 @06:10PM (#32997612)

    It was most certainly not "purely" on revenue. There were many demands Apple had. They ALL played a part in the decision. Remember, Verizon was a very different company back then. Everything was locked tight on Verizon phones. I believe no, or maybe one Palm, Verizon phone had Wifi enabled. Verizon has changed a lot since the iPhone and a big part of that is trying to keep customers from jumping to AT&T.

    Apple's Demands

    • Phone not available to carrier until after launch
    • Apple retains control over OS updates
    • No branding (i.e. no Verizon logo on the phone)
    • No crapware (i.e. VCast)
    • Visual Voicemail
    • Revenue sharing
    • Unlimited data at "cheaper than previous" pricing

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