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There are quite a number of applications that came pre-installed onto my phone when I bought it. I am unable to uninstall any of these without rooting my phone. Every now and then, Google Play will send me notifications of new updates for these software. Some of these, such as Gmail, YouTube and Hangouts belong to Google, others belong to third parties linked to my telco.

Whenever I perform an update on an application, I have to go through a list of App permissions and decide whether to grant those permissions. Some of these may request permission to access my address book, others may request certain controls on my Android system. These are privacy issues as well as security issues that I supposed many people will be facing.

In any case, how should one deal with these "unwanted" programs?

  • You can turn off auto update!! – Tirath Sep 5 '13 at 7:25
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    What version of Android are you using? Recent versions allow you to disable system apps, so among other things you won't get update notifications. – ale Sep 5 '13 at 12:42
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You might consider disabling those apps (starting with ICS, that's possible for some but not all) and "delete their updates". This way you'd solve multiple of your issues:

  • no more update reminders
  • app becomes unavailable, so it's no longer shown in the app drawer
  • being disabled, they should also no longer provide an "attack vector"
  • plus, the updates deleted, you save precious internal storage :)

If that's not possible for some apps via Settings → Applications (check the "All" tab there to see pre-installed apps), and is an option, you can still freeze them with apps like Titanium Backup to achieve the same.

Update: Starting with Lollipop, you can use the pm hide command without root via . So in case disabling an app the common way (see previous paragraph) fails, that is still worth a try.

  • Thanks. I guess it is time to update my OS to disable some apps. – Question Overflow Sep 8 '13 at 3:03
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If you don't use them, there is no point in updating them.

The only benefit of updating would be that they will stop giving annoying reminders to update - at least until their next update. Many of these bloatware/crapware additions can't be removed without rooting the phone. However, many of them will respond to a Force Stop after which they won't prompt you to update until you reboot your phone. The really annoying ones are those that restart after a Force Stop.

Most updates increase the amount of memory used by the app. Leave them alone if you don't want them.

In terms of security updates, if the app isn't running then it isn't a risk.

  • I can not generally agree, that apps that don't run are no risk. A potential attacker could still use exploits with these in genera. As reference see the everlasting Java threat on desktop PC's, even when the user does not explicitly use Java. It's exploitable from web browser when installed. – Marcel Sep 5 '13 at 11:07
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    It is possible to set the default opening app to be something other than the manufacturer's installed version. In which case the un-updated app will not open. This is different to the Java issue on PCs, although the comparison is well made. I'm not suggesting that anyone neglect security. The best answer is to update to the latest version of Android and disable system apps from within. – Chenmunka Sep 5 '13 at 18:33
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    Most of the bloatware I want to remove either have the "Force Stop" button disabled or are not listed. Thanks for your suggestion. I think I will upgrade my OS and disable them thereafter. – Question Overflow Sep 8 '13 at 3:05

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