Do you care about carrier bloatware?


For the folks out there who get new phones at a regular pace, and maybe even more than one new phone a year, there’s probably a routine they have when setting up a new device. Some might fall back on muscle memory, simply doing the same thing over and over again, while others might go with a more meticulous setup process. Whatever the case, it certainly gets faster to get a new phone ready to go the more often we do it.

Staying on the same mobile operating system can help out, of course. Even if the new phone has a different proprietary user interface in place, setting up the phone for the first time from one Android handset to the next should be just about the same experience across manufacturers. Especially if you’re dealing with devices sold by carriers.

Dealing with carrier-branded handsets can also mean a few extra steps, though, when compared to a phone that isn’t sold by a carrier.

And that’s because those carrier handsets are still sold to customers with, sometimes, a ton of pre-loaded apps already on the device. In most cases this means a lot of carrier-branded options, like Voicemail, or a messaging app, or whatever else it might be. Some carriers have more than others, but built-in apps don’t seem to be going anywhere any time soon.

There is a very subtle line between a stock app – an application that’s offered by the manufacturer of the phone you’re buying – and what many consider “bloatware” – the apps that are shoved onto a phone from the carrier. Google, Microsoft, and Apple all have their own built-in apps, for instance. But bloatware isn’t present on Apple-branded iPhones.

Bloatware from carriers is there on carrier-branded Android and Windows Phone devices. However, there’s an important distinction between the two mobile platforms. For Microsoft’s, you can actually remove them from your phone so they’re not there at all anymore. And, if for whatever reason you decide you want one of those apps back, you can download it again.

For Android users, though, the only option these days is to disable them. This turns them off, so they don’t run in the background, or eat up data unexpectedly, but they’re still on your phone – taking up some amount of that built-in storage. (It usually isn’t a lot of space, but it also depends on how many apps there are.)

In a perfect world, I’d say the best option is to not have bloatware at all, but in the world we live in I think being able to remove them from a device, and install them later if a person wants – is the best scenario. Apple is going the “disable” route with its own stock apps with the future release of iOS 10 – but at least iPhones still don’t have to worry about bloatware from carriers.

I’m thinking a lot about bloatware this week, because there’s a good chance that by Friday I’m going to be going through the motions of disabling apps again. And I’m honestly wondering if I want to go through the (admittedly small) hassle. The benefits of the new phone certainly outweigh disabling a handful of bloatware apps, but that’s how annoying bloatware is to me.

On top of that, it was recently revealed that Verizon Wireless was apparently considering adding even more bloatware to its devices, which seems crazy to me – even for a major wireless carrier. Does that suggest Verizon actually sees positive remarks about bloatware? So much so it thought it would be a good idea to add more?