Manufacturers and carriers often load Android phones with their own apps. If you don’t use them, they just clutter your system and sometimes in the background, draining resources. Take control of your device and stop the bloatware.
We’ll be focusing on disabling – also known as “freezing” bloatware here. It’s a safer process than uninstalling the bloatware completely, and is also easier to accomplish with free apps.
Uninstalling vs. Freezing
Uninstalling an app is exactly what it sounds like – the app is entirely removed from your device. Unfortunately, it’s not possible to get many of these preinstalled apps from the Play Store if you ever need them again. Uninstalling some preinstalled apps may result in problems or instability, so you could run into problems.
It’s safer to “freeze” apps instead of uninstalling them. A frozen app is disabled completely – it won’t appear in your app drawer and it won’t automatically start in the background. A frozen app cannot run in any way until you “unfreeze” it. Freezing and unfreezing are instant processes, so it’s easy to undo your changes if you end up freezing a necessary app.
If you really must uninstall apps, you should freeze them first and wait a few days to ensure that your phone or tablet works properly without them.
You can’t uninstall or freeze preinstalled bloatware apps without root access and third-party app managers. Try and you’ll find the options grayed out in the standard Android interface.
You’ll need a rooted Android device to freeze system apps. We’ve got a guide to rooting Android devices – it should only take a few minutes, assuming your device is well-supported. You’ll also need to enable USB debugging on your Android (open the Settings –> Applications –> Development screen on the device).
Titanium Backup is the most frequently recommended way to freeze bloatware. We’ve already covered using Titanium Backup to back up and restore your Android. Unfortunately, the free version doesn’t include the freeze or uninstall features — to freeze bloatware, you’ll need to pay over $6 for the pro version. While Titanium Backup is a great app, this is a steep price to pay if you only want to freeze a few apps.
Gemini App Manager is a free app that allows you to freeze apps, so we’ll be using it here. Unfortunately, Gemini App Manager doesn’t offer the same Uninstall option that Titanium Backup does – but freezing apps is safer than uninstalling them, anyway. To uninstall apps, you might want to look into Titanium Backup Pro.
First, install Gemini App Manager from Google Play. Launch it and tap the menu button.
Tap More in the menu and select Expert Mode.
Scroll through the apps and you’ll see apps you’ve installed and normally hidden system apps. Disabling important system apps could cause problems – for example, if you froze the Package installer app here, you wouldn’t be able to install packages. Be careful about what you freeze – of course, you can always unfreeze apps later, assuming your system remains stable enough to do so.
You may want to speed things up by tapping the Filter Packages button and selecting Of System. This will only display the preinstalled system apps.
Locate the app you want to freeze and long-press it to view the menu.
Tap the Block App option in the menu – this is the same as “freezing” an app in another app manager.
The Superuser app will prompt you to allow the root access so Gemini App Manager can continue
Gemini App Manager will disable the app instantly – you’ll see a lock icon beneath the app, indicating that it’s disabled. To re-enable (unfreeze) an app, long-press it and tap the Unblock App option.
The app will now be disabled completely, aside from taking up some space on your system. You won’t see it in the menus and it won’t run in the background. You may have to restart your device or launcher before the app icon disappears from the menus, though.
The process should be fairly similar in Titanium Backup Pro – switch to the Backup / Restore tab, tap the app you want to disable, and tap Freeze.
Chris Hoffman is a technology writer and all-around computer geek. He's as at home using the Linux terminal as he is digging into the Windows registry. Connect with him on Google+.
- Published 06/2/12