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Someone hates bloatware so much they’re suing Samsung

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galaxy s6 edge

There’s no denying Samsung is a formidable smartphone manufacturer, but there’s always been one major problem that’s plagued its handsets.

We’re talking about bloatware – that’s the bevy of apps that come pre-installed with Samsung handsets, and other companies’ smartphones too.

As a result, the Shanghai Consumer Rights Protection Commission (SCRPC) has levied two lawsuits against both Samsung and Chinese tech firm Oppo.

According to the suit, both companies sell smartphones that have pre-installed apps that are difficult, if not impossible, to uninstall.

It argues that bloatware is bad for consumers because it takes up space on the device, and detracts from the overall experience.

While bloatware exists on countless devices across many manufacturers, the SCRPC claims Samsung and Oppo are the worst offenders.

The Samsung Galaxy Note 3, for instance, was found to have 44 apps installed fresh out of the box.

The Oppo X9007, meanwhile, reportedly carried an incredible 71 pre-packed apps.

Related: Best Android Smartphones 2015

Thus, the SCRPC wants to make sure manufacturers let consumers remove these apps, and become more transparent about pre-installed bloat on the devices they sell.

“The litigation is our latest attempt to safeguard consumers’ rights after other methods failed,” explains Tao Ailian, the SCRPC’s secretary general, speaking to the Shanghai Daily.

Samsung has responded with a statement that reads: “We have not yet received the formal complaint filed by the Shanghai Consumer Council.”

It continues: “We will thoroughly review the court document and determine an appropriate response.”

toboev

July 4, 2015, 9:02 am

What I have never understood is why they don't make them uninstallable. It serves nobody's interest and simply detracts value from the game.

Google themselves are the worst culprits. If I look through my of list of 'disabled' apps, most of them are Google's own: Drive, Gmail, Google Play Books/Games/Music/Newstand, Google+, Google Hangouts. I could probably add Chrome, Google Play Movies &TV, YouTube and plain Google to the list.

Steve Crook

July 4, 2015, 9:21 am

What is most irritating is that it makes delivering an update to Android much much slower than it might be because there's all that code to be ported and tested.

I can see it made some sense in the early days when the Android UI was not so hot. But not now.

I'd like to see phones with bare Android and a guarantee that they would continue to receive Android updates for a minimum of two years (that's standard contract period) after release and ideally 5.

toboev

July 4, 2015, 10:27 am

Needs to be clear - are they talking about discrete apps, or about UI tweaks and customisations. I think this case is about being able to uninstall the former, which I would support wholeheartledly.

As to UI tweaks (TouchWiz, etc) I see that as part of the manufacturer's remit, just like any other design aspect of the phone. It is what makes the various competing wares different. Without it, in a world of imposed "pure" Android, there would be precious little choice left to the consumer, the phones would be reduced to a commodity item.

Personally I prefer choice - both the choice to uninstall manufacturer apps, and the choice between different manufacturer's UI's.

Dead Words

July 4, 2015, 6:07 pm

Of course Google has their own apps installed...on their own Mobile OS. The reason you can't uninstall those apps is because they're Google products integrated directly into the OS. It's like trying to uninstall the basic Messaging app, or the Google Play store. The defaults have to remain.
The difference with OEM's like Samsung is that they preinstall apps that aren't a part of the OS, and that the majority of people won't even use. Then they make them permanent applications, as if they're vitally important to the OS, which they aren't.

toboev

July 4, 2015, 9:25 pm

Nope, the reason you can't uninstall them is because Google doesn't want you to - there is no technical reason whatsoever, and Google's apps are no more a part of the OS than are any other brand of apps. It's bloat, pure and simple, no different to manufacturer bloat or carrier bloat. The OS can function quite happily without GMail pre-installed, or Hangouts, etc, etc. Bloat.

Steve Crook

July 5, 2015, 10:19 am

I'd choose to have a guaranteed stream up-to-date and more secure droid versions over extra apps or a UI skin that are of increasingly limited use now that droid UI is more mature.

But that's not a choice that's on offer at the moment unless you buy from Google (and even then). For me at least hardware is sufficiently capable that I won't feel the urge to upgrade every couple of years.

One of the few things about Apple that appeals to me is that their iOS updates keep appearing, installing and working...

toboev

July 5, 2015, 12:04 pm

So, as you point out, the choice of stock Android is available. With hardware in general now "sufficiently capable", so long as Google is offering a stock Android device or two, why would you need any others to answer the same choice? Let stock Android remain a choice, in the sense that alternatives continue to compete.

I'd argue that Android's increasingly mature UI is the fruit of a competitive diversity of manufacturer skins, especially TW, which has fertilised stock Android with a wealth of good ideas which might never have surfaced otherwise.

Dead Words

July 5, 2015, 4:12 pm

Google installing their own applications onto their own mobile OS is completely different than AT&T loading forty applications onto my phone, or Samsung giving just inferior copies of everything that already comes onto the phone. Google's own apps are integrated further into their own OS than any third-party applications. Just because you don't use them doesn't mean no one else will. Not everyone gets a phone with the intention of ever listening to music, but the default Music app is still there.
Instead of complaining about how an OS isn't 100% perfect, find the OS that is 70% perfect, or 80%, and compromise.
Google ships out Google Android with Google Android apps. Gasp. Shock horror. Ohmgosh.

toboev

July 5, 2015, 4:18 pm

How is it "completely different"? It is still just an app, unnecessary to the OS, over which my choice is denied me. Authorship of the app is not relevant to the debate. Neither is your purile sarcasm.
Don't forget, it's not that Google (or whoever) should not pre-load whichever apps the want, only that they should remain uninstallable at the owner's discretion. That's not a big ask.

Dead Words

July 5, 2015, 4:33 pm

The difference is simple. Google, the creator of Android, has also created a series of apps designed specifically for Android, and to meet the role of default apps. Whether or not you use those default apps is not relevant. Google isn't tailoring to a single person's needs, they are tailoring to everyone's needs. It makes more sense for a large corporation to have a base line (default apps) that are the foundation for everything a smart phone is capable of, that can't be uninstalled.
Now, of course it's also a business decision. Google is doing it to push their own services, but their own apps are more viable than any other solution, because as long as Android itself is supported, so are the default applications. They're integrated into the OS itself.
And your insistent hunger for an option for everything isn't viable from an engineering or UI design perspective.

toboev

July 5, 2015, 4:54 pm

To address a question of "what's different" you need to speak of the two contrasting cases. You only speak of Google and none other, hence you fail to address how their excuse for bloat is any different to the manufacturer's or the carrier's. You could pretty much substitute "Samsung" in lieu of "Google" and "Galaxy S#" in lieu of "OS".

Even so, I don't disagree with anything you say - except the merits of being uninstallable. However I am pleased that you agree with my earlier post, that the only reason why Google's bloat apps aren't uninstallable is because they will it so. No 'technical' reason, purely a business decision.

Which takes us back to my original question, why do it? For those who like and use the apps, it brings no benefit. For the rest, it only stokes their ire. Who gains? No one.

As to "integrated into the OS" I'm truly not sure what you mean. The OS works just fine with these apps disabled (would that they could be uninstalled!). Microsoft used to mumble something similar in defence of bundling IE with its OS, but of course that was rubbish also.

Dead Words

July 5, 2015, 7:01 pm

Internet debates will continue on into perpetual darkness, and we'll eternally yell our respective opinions at each other until we either go deaf or we're drowned out by the noise of some other irrelevant issue. The amusing thing is, we're so close to believing the same thing, yet tiny differences allow us to deviate.
Bottom line, I believe that the default apps installed by Google, Apple, or Microsoft onto their phones such as Messages, Photos, Music, etc., are perfectly acceptable and it doesn't make sense from an engineering or business perspective to allow these default apps to be uninstalled or tampered with. Nor does it make sense from a design or engineering perspective to make the solution for every issue "make it a choice between every viable option."
However, I will concede that the bloat installed by Samsung and other third-party manufacturers or software developers onto devices that are unable to be uninstalled and have either better alternatives already applied as default or are of niche nature are endlessly frustrating.
The only place that we differ in opinion is where the line between "acceptable preinstalled applications" and "infuriatingly large amounts of bloatware" lies. Have a good day.

toboev

July 5, 2015, 7:22 pm

Well, very nearly. I only don't agree with your insistance (and theirs) that these apps not be uninstallable. Pre-installed, no problem. And it adds no engineering complexity to leave them, one-and-all, uninstallable, so no debate about imagined complexities of catering to every individual's choices.
Indeed, have a good day also.

Steve Crook

July 6, 2015, 9:42 am

I'm sure you're right about the competition driving/feeding stock Android. That and a desperate need to keep up with or surpass iOS. We've all benefited as a result.

I'm not suggesting that manufacturers shouldn't provide their own skins, just that they make it easy to uninstall them and not have the need to port a skin slow the release of updated 'droid versions.

toboev

July 6, 2015, 10:57 am

I guess a skin is harder to "uninstall" since, despite the name, I don't think it is just a discrete layer that could be peeled off to reveal stock Android underneath. My understanding is that it is integrated more deeply into the OS, replacing various aspects wholesale rather that just providing an interfacing layer on top.

I agree it is a pain that we wait ages for OS updates. But I also have experience of a MotoG, and that was not much quicker to be updated to Lollipop. I think there is always a job of work to be done getting the new OS to 'fit' the specifics of the phone underneath regardless of any skin on top, I guess because the architecture is not a standardised as, say, a PC

Steve Crook

July 6, 2015, 11:46 am

You're right of course the skin is relatively tightly integrated with the OS and it makes a new release of the OS more complicated.

The trouble is that there's little incentive for the phone manufacturer to change things. After all, they want you to go out and get a new phone every couple of years.

The more work they do in providing software updates, the less likely you are to upgrade. Particularly now when the hardware is approaching a point at which it's probably good enough for most people most of the time so hardware feature driven sales are probably going to decline.

So I'm not holding my breath waiting for things to change...

toboev

July 6, 2015, 11:56 am

I don't disagree, but even so, how come Apple "gets away" with providing OS updates to old, and older, devices. And yet their customers seem to keep coming back for more?

Actually I'm not too hung up about Android OS updates. I soldiered on with my original Note for over 3 years, and just recently replaced it with a Note 4. Can't say the newer OS (5.0.1) really does anything "wow" better compared to what I had before.

Maybe most of what Android has learned came from TW, so I already had most of it on the Note 1? That's not troll-bait, honestly, when I look at the MotoG, out of the box it lacked UI features I had assumed were standard (from my experience of the old Note) - simple things like screen lock on the notification menu. It finally got them with Lollipop. Anyways... plus ca change..

Steve Crook

July 6, 2015, 1:42 pm

Apple? Different world I think.

I *am* hung up on updates. Not so much from a feature POV, but more from security & bug fixes.

I'm currently still using an HTC Desire and contemplating where I go now. Probably S6, but I'm waiting to see what arrives later in the year.

Thanks for the chat.

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