Your guide to getting rid of bloatware

Disable_bloatwareEvery new smartphone nowadays comes pre-loaded with a lot of apps. There might be some standard offerings that come with the platform, but on top of that you’re likely to find some apps from the manufacturer, and a few apps from your service provider. There is a lot of wheeling and dealing behind the scenes as companies try to secure a place for their wares on your smartphone before it ever reaches you. A lot of these apps simply won’t be of interest to you, but you’ll find that you can’t uninstall them, at least not easily. The collective name for all these unwanted apps is bloatware.

What’s the problem?

It’s a simple case of limited space. We all have to pay a premium for it. When you buy a smartphone that’s advertised as having 8GB of storage, you don’t want to be forced into using some of that space for apps that you didn’t want in the first place, especially since the operating system itself will eat up a good chunk. You also don’t want apps that you aren’t using running in the background and impacting on your phone’s speed and battery life. You don’t even want to have to scroll through extra pages of useless icons that you’re never going to tap on.

Perhaps the most pernicious thing about bloatware is the fact that you often can’t just uninstall it in the standard way, but there are ways to get rid of bloatware to varying degrees, depending on how much effort you’re prepared to expend.

Getting rid of Android bloatware

The simplest option is to hide the things you don’t want. This can easily be achieved with a third-party launcher. LauncherPro, Nova Launcher, and a host of others will give you the option to hide icons in your app drawer, so you never need to see them again. The problem is that they will potentially still run in the background and they’ll still be taking up space.

If you have a smartphone running Android 4 or above then you can disable any apps you don’t want to use. Go to Settings > Apps and swipe over to All and then tap on any apps that you don’t want to use and choose Disable. This will drop the app to the bottom of the list, so you can always go back in and enable it again if you should want to use it in the future. This will prevent it from running in the background, but you’ll still be stuck with it eating up space.

For people with older Android devices it is possible to disable bloatware apps, but you’ll need to root your smartphone and install an app like Titanium Backup, which offers the option to freeze apps.

Your final option is to remove the bloatware altogether. You will need to root your Android smartphone in order to do this. If you are going to root then you’ll find detailed guides and all the help you need at the XDA Developers forum. If you flash a custom ROM then it will effectively replace all of the software on your phone, and that includes bloatware. Alternatively you could root and use an app like Titanium Backup to uninstall any unwanted apps.

Getting rid of iPhone bloatware

The iPhone tends to be relatively free of bloatware, but if we use the term to describe any pre-installed app that you don’t want, then some of Apple’s offerings will probably fall into that category, and unfortunately they are not easy to get rid of.

You can hide some iOS apps that you aren’t interested in by creating a folder and dumping them in it. Tap and hold the app icon and drop it on top of another app that you don’t want in order to create a folder. The iPhone 5 will let you put up to 16 apps in a single folder. Of course this won’t free up any space and it won’t stop them from running.

If you want to get rid of some of those apps then you’ll need to jailbreak your iPhone. You’ll find lots of different guides online, just make sure you follow the right one for your model. Once you have jailbroken you’ll find there are apps and tweaks available that can hide, or even completely remove, most of the iOS apps you don’t want. Some apps are integrated with the platform and so removing them will cause you serious problems, proceed with caution!

Getting rid of Windows Phone bloatware

For the most part Windows Phone does actually allow you to uninstall bloatware in the normal way. You just long press on the app you don’t want and choose uninstall. There are some apps included as part of the platform that cannot removed in this way, much like Apple’s own iOS apps. There doesn’t seem to be a method for hiding apps either.

In order to hide or remove apps you would need to look into jailbreaking or rooting your Windows Phone and this doesn’t seem to be possible on every version of the platform.

Getting rid of BlackBerry bloatware

You may find that you can delete some of the bloatware apps that you don’t want in BB10 in the normal way, but when you install an update they come back again. There isn’t really any way around this. You can always hide your bloatware – drag an app icon on top of another app icon that you don’t want and drop it to create a folder, then put everything you don’t want to use in there.

There doesn’t seem to be any other solution for BB10 device owners right now.

If you have any other tips for getting rid of bloatware, post a comment and share them.

About Simon Hill

Simon is an experienced tech writer with a background in games development. He has been covering the world of mobile technology for several years now and writes for a variety of popular websites.