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Bloatware is still a painful matter

By Jean-Claude Elias - Feb 06,2020 - Last updated at Feb 06,2020

Learning from the mistakes you made in the past is not necessarily an indication, a sign of a good heart or kindness, it is simply about being smart, intelligent. It works in your own interest and in that of the others. And yet, the guys at Google still make Android versions of their mobile operating system with unreasonable amounts and quantities of bloatware.

For the few who may not be familiar with the term, bloatware is “unwanted software included on a new computer or mobile device by the manufacturer”. (Lexico, by Oxford).

It started many years ago, with the early versions of Android for tablets and smartphones. First it was a really, totally unacceptable number of applications installed against your will by the manufacturer. Applications that you never asked for in the first place, that you cannot uninstall, and that take space, memory and resources from the devices. To name a few: ANT Radio Service, Google Drive, Google News, Hangouts, and Samsung Cloud.

Bloatware does not necessary consist of useless or bad applications. What rather hurts is that you are not given the choice to uninstall or to keep them. Choice is a very important thing in the eye of technology users.

With time and the new versions of Android, Google has reduced the number of bloatware applications — to a certain extent. Not in a significant manner and just not enough to the taste of hard to please consumers. This is strange to say the least. If the IT giant has realised that users are annoyed by bloatware, why didn’t it stop the concept completely? After all we know how smart the company is that has given us the greatest, fastest search engine ever, the amazing Google maps, and so forth.

Those who are tech-savvy and who have tried to solve the issue know that in most cases they can stop the unwanted app — but cannot uninstall it completely. There is even an app on Google Play store, named “Package Disabler” that works beautifully by letting you disable an annoying piece bloatware and stop seeing it — though it will still be in the phone, physically speaking. It is what you would call an acceptable compromise solution.

Google’s not removing completely bloatware or at least allowing the user to do so, is all the more strange that Apple’s iPhones come with virtually no bloatware at all. Not a minor advantage in favour of Apple’s iOS system. Usually, over the years, competitors “learn” from each other, to put it mildly. Didn’t Microsoft for instance find its inspiration to introduce the mouse in Apple’s early personal computers?

This is not about iOS against Android, and bloatware is not a topic important enough to serve as a main comparison between Apple’s iPhones and Android-based models, though some IT gurus on the web like to do it sometimes. The subject is wider than that, and users of Android phones, mainly of those handsets in the Samsung Galaxy high-end line, will tell you that they would rather live with the bloatware annoyance and enjoy the countless features and camera quality of the devices that to move to the bloatware-free iPhones.

It’s the eternal debate about personal taste, about Mercedes versus BMW cars, or in the 1960s of the Beatles’ versus the Rolling Stones’ music. Who can decide and tell, in a pragmatic, unbiased manner, which is better?

As annoying as it may be bloatware will very rarely make users migrate from Android phones and tablets to iPhones and iPads. Still, Google would be wise to listen carefully and to try to please its users a little more. Maybe in the upcoming versions? Samsung’s successor of its flagship Galaxy S10 is around the corner. Let’s see how much bloatware it will come fitted with.

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