Carriers (mobile networks) and manufacturers (and some third-party developers) often include pre-installed apps, but in most instances these apps offer little or no benefit to you or your Android device. In fact in most instances they end up being useless. These pre-installed apps generally clutter your system and in some instances degrade the performance of your mobile device i.e. draining your battery for example.
These pre-installed apps are referred to as ‘bloatware’. Bloatware apps are usually installed to encourage you to use a manufacturers app, but most non-tech users don’t even use these apps, let alone know they are there. If they did, they would realise they were useless in the most part. Note: Almost all stock configurations of Android come loaded with bloatware, but it you have a Nexus, you are lucky because these devices do not.
Freezing and or removing Android bloatware
So how do you go about disabling/freezing the pre-installed bloatware? In many instances users will simple “freeze” the app rather than risk uninstalling, which might cause a system issue i.e. bricking or some other type of instability. When you uninstall an app , the app is completely removed from for device, but the pre-installed apps are not (in most instances) available on the Play Store, if you decided you needed them again.
Therefore, freezing an app is seen as a safer alternative. Freezing an app will disable that app and it will not appear to be functioning nor will it take up any background resource (maybe Android should take a leaf out of BlackBerry’s hat, where BB10 only allows app in the background if that app uses Active Frames). Freezing an app on Android for example is an instant process, but you do have the option to unfreeze that app if you encounter instability issues. However, read on…..
Note: If you decide to uninstall an app, it’s important that you first freeze an app to ensure you don’t drink your device.
However, contrary to what I’ve read on forums, its difficult to impossible to disable or freeze bloatware on Android 4.0 upwards (from Ice Cream Sandwich) without root access. Some comments suggest you can disable apps in ICS, but I can tell you if you are running 4.0 upwards on say a Samsung Galaxy S3, you will be unable to disable most apps from Settings > Applications Manager. However there is a simple work around for removing bloatware without root access! I use a recovery-flashable ZIP called Bloatkill than can remove the APK from the Android system/app partition without root access.
If you have a stock ROM, this means the original operating system (and haven’t installed a modified version), then Bloatkill will work for you without any modifications. Before moving any apps, make sure you do understand what you are removing, as I cannot be held responsible for any problems you might encounter!
Firstly, you will need your PC
- Download Bloatkill.zip file – save to your PC desktop
- Open the file with an archive tool i.e. WinRAR
- Go to META-INF\com\google\android\ and extract the file “updater-script” to your PC desktop
- Open “updater-script” with your PC text editor (Notepad) ready for editing
- You will now see a list of all the APKs that will be removed upon running the script. You can modify this list and save the file again using Notepad. Note the bold parts as these are important stock system files
- Move the “updater -script” back into the Bloatkill.zip archive. This will replace the original copy with your copy
Next up, you will need your Android device – Samsung Galaxy S3 i9300
- Connect your Android device to your PC using a USB cable
- Copy the Bloatkill.zip file from your desktop onto your Android SD card* (not in any folder) and reboot in recovery mode. Shut down and boot the device while holding the volume up, home button and power button at the same time to enter recovery mode
- Select “apply ZIP from SD card” and select Bloatkill.zip and select “Yes”. The script will execute. Once this is done you will need to reboot
- The apps you listed in “updater-script” will now have been removed
*Use My Files > All files > extSdCard to locate/verify the zip file location and file integrity (you can also use any 3rd-party file manager from the Play Store).
Android allows you to reboot the device in recovery or fastboot modes. If you are having problems with finding out how to enter recovery mode please do a Google search for your specific device, or just drop me a line.
Safe surfing folks!