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I have a Android phone (Samsung). It comes with a whole bunch of pre-installed stock apps.

Q1: Is it correct that these stock apps are stored in the read-only partition /system?

Since getting the phone, I have updated most (if not all) of the stock apps via the Play Store.

Q2: Assuming app updates can't touch /system, how do they work? How can apps be updated if they are effectively read-only?

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A1: I'm pretty positive that they are on the /system partition because you can't delete them, if you could, that would mean they are in /data partition or whatever it is called where the userspace is.

A2: I think they install updates in userspace, not in /system. The reason for believeing so is that after you update a system app, and you go in Settings -> Apps, it allows you to uninstall updates only, meaning that the update that was installed in userspace will get deleted but the original app, the version you got out of the box, is still left untact in /system, and you can't delete it.

  • userspace is indeed /data. All updates are installed there because /system is obviously read only. Just remove your "I believe" or similar. – GiantTree Jan 10 '15 at 12:23
  • So what you're saying is old apps stay in /system untouched, updated apps are installed to /data, and Android just uses the newer updated apps automatically in preference to the old ones? Seems silly because that means all my apps are installed twice. And there's a lot of them! – misha256 Jan 10 '15 at 19:57
  • @misha256 /system is for system installed apps. /data for userspace. Apps aren't installed twice. As far as being read-only partition, if that was the case you wouldn't be able to add any data (meaning no photos, texts saved, documents, or any downloads). You may be thinking of the /system which is read-only, but can edit it self. – HasH_BrowN Jan 11 '15 at 5:16
  • @HasH_BrowN What I mean is that if a system app is updated via Play Store, the updated app is installed to /data. Which means the old version remains in '/system'. With 30+ stock system apps that kind of duplication eats up a fair bit of storage space. – misha256 Jan 13 '15 at 23:31
  • If your wanting to clear as much of the "useless old data", the I would suggest trying the answer provided by Izzy for http://android.stackexchange.com/questions/95653/how-to-cleanly-remove-gmail-app-from-kitkat-i-have-fully-moved-over-to-inbox. His answer will eliminate as much of old data as possible without being rooted. Just follow the steps for your different stock apps. – HasH_BrowN Jan 14 '15 at 17:10

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