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This question is about a Nexus 4 bought in the United States and used in India.

Backstory: A friend from US gifted the phone to me. When I first switched the phone on, it had the app google earth. After configuring the phone with accounts and installing apps, the google earth application disappeared from the apps shown in the App Drawer. I initially presumed that the app may have been uninstalled after learning that Google Earth app is not available for the country India.

Few days later, I installed AppBrain, a third party app market app on the phone. AppBrain lists all the apps I have on the phone and even shows Google Earth. From the AppBrain app, attempting to open the Google Earth app gives the message "This app is not executable"; attempting to uninstall the app gives the message "Uninstall unsuccessful".


  1. How do I use this hidden app (or how do I unhide the app) on my phone now that I know its present and installed?
  2. If I wanted to uninstall it, how would I be able to do it?
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up vote 2 down vote accepted

You can't uninstall it. On Android, the apps you install yourself are stored in the main internal storage. The apps that come pre-installed are not installed there, but rather in the phone's ROM. They're not taking up space that you could use for other apps, and they can't be changed or deleted.

To remove this one app, you'd have to replace the whole ROM (including the operating system) of your phone with a custom one such as Cyanogenmod. (See the tag info for more information on custom ROMs.) This would have other effects too, so it's probably not something you'd want to do just to remove an app that doesn't run and isn't occupying any internal storage.

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Actually system apps can be modified and removed on most rooted devices (if you have root permissions, you can remount /system read-write if it was mounted read-only, and then add/remove/change APK files in /system/app — either manually in adb shell, or using apps; e.g., Titanium Backup has such functionality in addition to backup functions). Exceptions are some HTC phones which use hardware write protection for parts of internal flash storage, including the /system partition; such phones require unlocking the bootloader to remove this write protection. – Sergey Vlasov Jun 1 '13 at 13:23

You could try using a file explorer like file expert to reinstall the app.I am also using a nexus 4 bought in India. If you go to internal storage/system/app you will find GoogleEarth.apk listed in there.Just click on it and it will be installed and visible in the app drawer from now on.

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