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Can't remove your pre-installed apps? One country is taking action

These new rules could have some side-effects, though.
By

Published onMarch 14, 2023

realme GT review showing bloatware on screen
Dhruv Bhutani / Android Authority
TL;DR
  • The Indian government is planning new rules to fight pre-installed apps.
  • The rules would force mobile brands to let users uninstall bloatware.

Bloatware is one of the more annoying aspects about modern smartphones, as manufacturers pre-install a variety of apps that you might not use at all. In fact, most brands go one step further and don’t allow users to uninstall some of these apps.

Now, Reuters reports that the Indian government is planning new rules to combat this practice, citing an official document and two sources. These rules would specifically force brands to allow users to uninstall pre-installed apps. The rules would also introduce mandatory security screening of OS updates before they’re pushed out to smartphones.

The mooted regulations come against a backdrop of concern over spying and abuse of consumer data in apps. It also comes amid long-running tensions between China and India.

“Pre-installed apps can be a weak security point and we want to ensure no foreign nations, including China, are exploiting it. It’s a matter of national security,” a senior government source told Reuters.

Uninstalling bloatware could have side-effects

There’s no word on when these rules will come into effect, but the government has reportedly given smartphone makers a year from the law’s implementation to comply with these rules.

There are also several unanswered questions regarding this law. For one, an industry executive told Reuters that some pre-installed apps such as the camera are critical. The representative therefore called on the government to make a distinction between critical and non-essential pre-installed apps when determining which apps can be uninstalled.

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Many brands also make money off pre-installed apps, be it via financial agreements with third-party app developers or via user revenue (such as app stores and theme stores). So OEMs could potentially lose a revenue stream in India due to these laws.

Another executive told the newswire that these rules could prolong the timeline for a smartphone to receive regulatory approval, currently pegged at 21 weeks.

Nevertheless, the ability to uninstall bloatware could still be a major boon for Indian consumers and people at large. This would allow users to claw back storage, while also giving them more control in the name of security and privacy.

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