How to: Freeze Bloatware on Your Android Device

One of my biggest peeves about Verizon is the insane amount of bloatware that come packaged on their devices. For instance, my Motorola Droid Bionic came packed with about 27 different “helpful” apps. Now, unfortunately, Verizon’s announced that it killed its own pathetic app store, and partnered with Amazon. What this means is that you’ll have more, useless, space-hogging apps on your device. And don’t think for a moment that Verizon’s the only culprit in this bunch. AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile all have their packages.

Well, for those of wanting out, there is a solution. It’s not simple, but it’s oh so pretty when you’re done.

The first step is to root your phone. You’ll probably have to search for your device; I suggest XDA Developers or Droid Life as possible starting points. Note too: rooting voids your warranty and can potentially “brick” (turn your phone into an overpriced paperweight) your device. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

The reason you want root access is so you can become a “Superuser.” What does that mean? Nothing really, except your bootloader is no longer locked, so you can do some things (including removing bloatware) and run some apps you wouldn’t otherwise be able to.

One of the apps you can run on a rooted device is Titanium Backup (free). You’ll need to buy the key for the Pro version ($6.58) [you need to have the free and pro version installed for the app to work correctly], which you may think is a little costly, but trust me, worth every penny. Sadly, this app didn’t make my list of best apps, mainly because of the complexity and limited number of “super users” who need/want the app.

With Titanium Backup, you can freeze (my preference) or uninstall apps that are particularly troublesome.

I prefer freezing an app over uninstalling one, because you might never know if you’ll need/want that app in the future. I’ve heard a few people get concerned about space, but honestly, most bloatware is less that 100 kb in size. So, most likely we’re talking about wanting to not see the app versus totally removing it from your device. Also, in the odd, off-chance your provider actually requires that app for an upgrade to the ROM (i.e. OTA updates), you can unfreeze it easier than having to find and side load the appropriate app.

To freeze an app, open Titanium Backup and click on Backup/Restore.

Presented before you will be all of the apps installed on your Android device.

Now, it’s a matter of selecting the app and choosing whether you want freeze or uninstall the application.

 If and when you need the application again, simply reverse the process. Remember, freezing is reversible, uninstalling is not. Now, kiss your bloatware goodbye.

Granted, it’s only hidden from the app list, but “out of sight, out of mind.”

Titanium Backup also allows you to backup your apps, which is handy for storing data such as pictures, text messages, and contacts. To backup your text messages, just look for Messages (SMS & MMS) in the list. Remember to store the data off the device (Dropbox or some other location). To send the data, long press on the app in the list, click Send latest backup… from the menu list, choose “easy import” or “separate files” (I use easy import), click where you want to send the data.

So, voila! Now you see why rooting is beneficial.

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Jeff Taylor

I’m just an ordinary guy living an extraordinary life. I’m also an attorney and I blog about Android for lawyers. You can follow me on Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, or Google+.