Google’s open-source take on Android means almost any manufacturer can pick up the OS and modify it however they want. The huge range of resulting devices and software variations is a big part of the platform’s unparalleled success, but it’s also why most Android handsets come pre-installed with tons of useless apps and features that are confusing to use and almost impossible to delete.
That may change in South Korea, where the communications ministry ruled yesterday that consumers should have the right to remove most Android bloatware, Yonhap News reports. Starting in April the new guidelines will go into effect, letting smartphone owners remove almost all carrier and manufacturer-installed apps. The only exceptions to the new rule are applications for the device’s Wi-Fi connection, NFC, app stores and client center.
“The move aims to normalize an abnormal practice that causes inconvenience to smartphone users and cause unfair competition among industry players,” the ministry said.
South Korea’s biggest mobile carrier, SK Telecom, currently installs 25 apps on the Galaxy S4, while local manufacturers like LG and Samsung typically clog up Android with as many as 40 extra apps. The new ruling would reduce that number by half.
Yesterday’s ruling is the first of its kind, and while Android bloatware isn’t exactly a human rights issue it’s definitely a daily annoyance for many if not most smartphone owners. If we’re lucky, South Korea’s announcement will have a ripple effect, leading to a less cluttered version of Google’s OS around the world. Until then there are always stock Android devices and bloatware-killing ROMs.