Pre-installed Android apps (aka Android bloatware) that cannot be deleted in devices from certain vendors are not only an eyesore but a huge risk to the privacy of users.
In an open letter to Google, Privacy International and over 50 privacy advocacy groups have come forward asking Google to address the issue of data vulnerability for users, that comes along with Android Bloatware.
The letter, addressed to Sundar Pichai, argues that the pre-installed apps generally have undesired permissions “that let them operate outside the Android security model.”
While the devices offered a Play Protect certified, signees say that over 91% of such apps don’t even appear on the Play Store, citing a research on Android bloatware from March 2018.
This enables pre-installed apps to go overboard with permissions even when they are not required “without triggering standard Android security prompts.”
These permissions can include access to the microphone, camera, location and several more. “Users are therefore completely in the dark about these serious intrusions”
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Calling Sundar Pichai “an influential agent in the ecosystem,” privacy advocates are asking Google to set up new rules for pre-installed apps from OEMs.
Signees say that users should be allowed to delete their apps and related background services permanently. Moreover, the pre-installed apps should go through the same app Google’s app review process as every other app. This will enable Google to scrutinize any exaggerated permissions.
The problem of Android Bloatware exists in Android devices from nearly every OEM. However, the worst affected are users of Xiaomi, Realme, and other Chinese smartphone manufacturers. For years, Samsung was king of Android bloatware, but it has decreased the quantity of bloatware over time.
While Google acknowledges the problem, which might take some time to fix, you can try out this workaround in order to get rid of Android bloatware in your device.