Nov 18 AT 10:45 AM Anthony Domanico 97 Comments

To bloat or not to bloat? The Galaxy Nexus Question


Several folks have pointed out a potentially troubling sight from yesterday’s Galaxy Nexus videos: the Verizon version of the Galaxy Nexus will include a small amount of Verizon bloatware. Included in Verizon’s Galaxy Nexus are two Verizon-branded applications, My Verizon Mobile and Verizon Backup Assistant.

Though these are actually two of the more useful of Verizon’s applications, it changes the fundamental understanding of what makes the Nexus line so wonderful. The Nexus series are meant to be pure Google devices, meaning they would only include applications and features that are baked into the stock version of the Android operating system.

Many people have been making a stink about this move, though in the grand scheme of things it probably doesn’t matter. The hardcore Android users who are most likely to be upset about this move are likely going to root their devices and will then be able to remove this bloatware. Other Verizon customers will likely not be bothered by the few applications Verizon has chosen to include.

What do you guys think? Is bloatware on the Galaxy Nexus a big problem, or are you planning to root your device anyway?

Anthony loves all things technology, from hardware to apps and games. You can connect with him via Google+ or Twitter by clicking one of the fancy doo-dads above.

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  • @BiGMER F

    i dont care how useful the apps are! it is a disgrace to see ANY bloatware on any device with the Nexus name on it. Lets not talk about the Verizon branding on the battery cover. It makes me want to Vomit. I know many Verizon users will dismiss it as a w/e . but for all Android fans everywhere that goto the nexus line for the purest of Android experiences, this is a sad thing to see.

    • tN0

      This is not really about the apps that are installed but the specific version of the OS. I think a lot of people are missing the point that this special Android version may not come directly from Google, so every update must be approved by the carrier.

      My Nexus One didn’t had branding or pre-installed apps but the OS was from Vodafone and every update was delayed for months until I rooted it and installed the international version from Google.

    • CJ LaFleur

      Does this bloatware make my phone look fat?

      • CJ LaFleur

        Seriously?! You created an account just to libel me?! That just tells me that you have no better use for your useless waste of human life, than to troll me. Maybe my joke wasn’t funny. However, that does not warrant slanderous comments. If you don’t like what I say, just vote it down and move on instead of dwelling on it you immature child. Trolls are not welcome or appreciated so please leave and never come back!

    • NexusFailBoy

      You mad bro? Just root and remove it you lazy F*****. Nexus nerds wanting everything done for them! Maybe you should tell google to make an application to wipe your buttholes too!

  • James

    Doesn’t ICS have the ability to “Freeze” apps anyway?

    Though saying that… the carriers should have no say on what goes on a Nexus ROM. EVER!

    • Anthony Domanico

      Yeah, ICS gives users much greater control over all apps, though I doubt you’ll be able to uninstall without rooting.

    • eallan

      Regular android has the ability to remove apps. Doesn’t stop verizon from preventing users from doing so.

      • Robert

        Not true, some things aren’t removable without root.

        • SphericalPuma

          True, but Android 4.0 allows you to stop and hide apps from your app drawer. However once again, I wouldn’t put it past Verizon to disable this built-in feature.

    • @BiGMER F

      freeze and hide.. but not erase.

      • WarDrake

        Yeah… the apps will be gone in hours if not minutes from the phones, it’s the principle of the thing…

        it’s offending! that’s what it is.

  • Kai99

    I have a co-worker who knows very little about her Droid Charge who just yesterday asked how she could delete some of the crap-ware loaded on her phone that she never uses. Suffice to say the “average” user won’t root their phone but, they will certainly notice apps they don’t ever use and wish they were not there

    • lostsync

      Yeah, consumers are more than used to this from buying new PCs that come preloaded with tons of software of exactly the same caliber and usefulness as the stuff preinstalled on smartphones these days. It’s just as annoying on a shiny new laptop as it is on a phone. As ‘the computer guy,’ to my family and friends, I’m frequently tasked for removing this stuff from new computer. My wife also complains about the crapware on her Bionic from time to time, so it definitely at least has the potential to annoy consumers.

      It is very sad to see this kind of bloatware on a Nexus device, but if the two apps mentioned are the only ones preinstalled, it’s very obvious that this was the result of a compromise and that Google fought hard on this one. You’re never going to get a phone activated on VZW that wasn’t sold by VZW, and their policy on selling phones seems to pretty clearly require the inclusion of certain apps. I think Google had to weigh the pros and cons here…are two somewhat useful carrier apps worth missing out on the largest customer base in the country for? If it came down to it, I doubt VZW was going to budge on this issue, and I’m glad that Google worked out the compromise. It’s annoying to have them here, but it’s a lot less annoying than not getting the phone at all, which I’m pretty sure is the other option for VZW customers.

      Also, if they’re easily uninstallable, and I’m sure they’re not, but if they were I wouldn’t really care at all what they put on there.

      • tim

        Actually the iPhone doesn’t have either of these pre installed.

        That being said I use both apps and would install them if not present so for me personally I am fine with this. Hide them if you don’t want them and move on.

  • WarDrake

    Regardless of whether you will be rooting it or not, i agree here… Bloatware on a nexus is a disgrace… a nexus phone is supposed to be tampered with by the user, not the carrier…

  • SphericalPuma

    This isn’t the first time a Nexus has been messed with by a carrier. If I recall correctly, Sprint disabled the tethering option that was built in to the Nexus S, unless you had a tethering plan. Obviously, you could still download an app from the market to tether, but the built in feature required a plan.

    • Taknarosh

      Actually there is a worse situation. Videotron in Quebec, had messed around so badly with the Nexus One that It didn’t get Android 2.3 until 3-4 months AFTER the regular Nexus Ones for 2.3.

      They had baked so much carrier apps into the OS that they “apparently needed” all that extra time to port over the OS.

      I spoke to HTC reps at an HTC event in Montreal and they say they had nothing to do with the Nexus One/Videotron deal so it looks like it was Google/Videotron affair and much like with Verizon, Google let a carrier dictate what would be on a nexus phone which is a true shame.

    • mostlyDigital

      That isn’t disabling a feature on the phone. It’s charging for a network service.

      Downloading an app to get around the TOS agreement that you signed to get service in the first place gives you the ability but not the right to not pay for a service that you agreed to pay for.

      Your phone doesn’t determine your monthly minutes, data downloads or speed any more than owning a Ferrari gives you the right to drive at 105 MPH.

      • Transient

        You can tether with the NS4G, just not over 4G. I’d like to see actual writing of what a “Google Experience” is. Tethering has and will always probably restricted by the Carriers terms. If you buy a off contract Nexus device you don’t automatically get service for free, you must pay to activate and use voice or SMS. The Nexus just offers a native solution, not the service.

      • Dbrown317

        It’s like buying a car from the dealership and them charging you a monthly fee for using the AIR CONDITIONER – the ability to tether is not a function of the carrier, or OS, its in the hardware that WE PAID FOR!

  • Samir Shah

    I think that the bloatware should not be on the nexus branded phones which makes them a non branded Google pure experience. what’s the point in the nexus series when we can’t get rid of the bloatware? its pretty stupid that Google is hitting themselves in their own feet by doing something like this which to some people doesn’t matter but hey, no bloatware and pure Google experience is the reason we buy the Nexus series otherwise there are a crap load of phones which are much more powerful than the galaxy nexus.

  • Greg

    fastboot oem unlock, uninstall, etc.

  • eSo

    The only problem I have with this, is that it suggests that Google has given up in the U.S. The Nexus One was widely considered a failure, though I still use mine and don’t think there is a better phone out yet. They tried something new with the Nexus S that also didn’t really work out. And now they are just giving up and letting Verizon disgrace the Nexus name. Makes me sad.

  • Johan Appelgren

    Even if this is the only change Verizon has made it will still delay updates. Vote with your wallet and buy bloat free Nexus. :)

    • Aaron

      Yes! My thoughts exactly. I’m not a big fan of VZW to begin with, so I was on the fence about giving them money at all (even on a no-contract, month-to-month basis… if that’s even possible with this phone).

      This seals the deal. As much as it kills me, I’ll wait for a properly unlocked, fully stock GSM variant. A true world phone that isn’t locked to US-only technology and under the watchful, invasively paranoid eye of the “worst of the worst” US carrier.

  • mostlyDigital

    Granted, bloatware on any phone is worse than no bloatware and especially on the Nexus. That said, my big concern is the implication that updates will go through Verizon rather than coming straight from Google. Of course if that’s the case one can always root and ROM.

    This will annoy me but not keep me from buying the Nexus.

  • mike

    That’s why I’m getting my nexus imported from Europe, the gsm version. I hate Verizon and they’re completely ruining the nexus

    • Aaron

      Mike! How?… where? Please let us know.

      If I read everything correctly, this would work with both AT&T and T-Mo in the US.

  • Srq

    This is nothing new even for a nexus. My tmo nexus one had bloatware I couldn’t uninstall. Did everyone forget about the stupid amazon mp3 app that was on there?

    • Transient

      It was Google’s standard music distribution at the time.

  • Jonathan

    There are two inherent problems with each piece of bloatware.

    The first, for My Verizon, is that this app is already available in the Android market for Verizon customers. Why preinstall it without option of removal when it can be downloaded for free in the market?

    The worse of the two, Backup Assistant, is that it is not just an app. This is a separate, permanent account management system that shows up in the Accounts and Sync section of the settings. Freezing it and hiding it will still leave this option in the account settings. It’s also a shame because those same hardcore Android fans that are likely to purchase the Galaxy Nexus are already very familiar with how to manage their own information and ICS already has a huge focus on properly integrating a Google account as soon as the device is turned on.

    So, to answer the question, the answer is and always will be NOT to bloat.

  • Simian

    It’s really depressing but I’m sure Verizon is paying dearly for this. Plus really it’s the peoples fault that we can’t just buy handsets direct from Google. If the NexusOne had done better when purchased direct then I’m sure we’d see a different situation right now.

  • Brian

    Bloatware is not an issue to me as long as the customer can uninstall it without rooting the phone. It’s ok to introduce the customer to some apps, but give them a choice. I can’t stand Sprint’s bloatware with no way to uninstall (stock).

  • Alexander

    Ho hum… 3 minutes with Titanium Backup and the ‘issue’ is over and done with.

    • Transient

      Requires root. Not everyone wants to or is aware of rooting.

  • Kaie Kristiansen Esq

    The backup app is useless to me.

    But if you’re mad at a my Verizon app you’re delusional.

  • Sean Livingston

    There were verizon apps in a commercial, hopefully they were installed simply for that commercial, and not actually bloatware on the phone. I’m not saying its not the case, but until we actually see the final app list, I don’t think there is much to get emotional about. It was in a commercial; which means that Verizon will brand themselves in the commercial. Hopefully the phone doesn’t actually come with any bloatware on it. We will see what happened. Honestly for me, its not that big of a deal since i’m going to root the phone anyway. But I would have preferred a pure stock, no bloatware, experience. It is not too late for me to go to Sprint if they will ever announce the phone.

  • CJ

    I think the media, sites like this, should stop trying to create controversy where there isn’t any. For all anyone knows, the phone in the video was an internal Verizon test phone in which case it makes sense that they would have some VZW apps onboard for testing. Until it comes out we just don’t know and speculation/rumor mongering serves no purpose.

    • Sean Livingston

      My thoughts exactly!

  • pekosROB

    I don’t understand the point of the backup assistant since contacts are backed up online and photos can be backed up to Google+. The mobile data app makes since… If you don’t have unlimited data.

    I wouldn’t mind them including them as long as you can actually delete them and not just hide them. But this is a step away from what the first two Nexus devices stood for – a pure Google experience.

    • tim

      The point is that not everyone had an android phone as their last phone and even if the carrier uses a Celbright machine to transfer contacts they are stored in the phone address book.database not a Google account. Verizon wants to sell these to regular consumers too. I’ve been using android phones for nearly two years now and only about a month ago I finally exported my lengthly contact lust via My Verizon online and imported it into Google.

  • Dee

    Does the iphone have bloatware? Google should fight this tooth and nail.

    • nerdshowandtell

      Yeah, its called the appstore, and they slap a big apple logo on the back.

    • Kaie Kristiansen Esq

      Why do people constantly feel the need to bring iPhone and/or iOS into everything android.

      I fully get your point but seriously…….

      • helloyoohoo

        Why bring up the biggest competitor to Android? It’s another smart phone that has a verizon contract that does not include bloatware. You don’t think it’s relevant? Bringing up blackberry’s verizon bloatware would also be relevant. Android got a worse deal for some reason, the supposed pure android phone is not pure anymore.

    • mostlyDigital

      Apple has the sales numbers to twist those arms. Well, not T-Mobile’s arms. It’s not Google that signs a contract with the providers and HTC, Samsung, LG… just don’t have the sales numbers to be able to set rules like those. And with one iPhone and many Androids the numbers will continue to fall that way.

      The Android vendors will not threaten to pick up their marbles and walk away. Not for the foreseeable future, that is.

  • mostlyDigital

    It’s the price that you pay for provider subsidy. It’s completely legal for any phone manufacturer to sell (FCC approved) phones directly to consumers. Providers then MUST allow the consumer to use that phone (while paying for service) on their network. That’s the law.

    If the manufacturers thought that there would be sufficient demand for pure Google phones they’d build them. I don’t think that Verizon or AT&T would refuse to do business with HTC or Samsung if they sold pure Google phones. I think that the phones aren’t being made because the manufacturers don’t believe that there is a viable market for them.

    If everyone were willing to spend $700 on a pure Google phone they would exist.

    • Wes

      The last pure google phone sold through Verizon was the Moto Droid. Still one of the best selling Android devices…. I don’t think this has anything to do with a “viable market” as the experience is only negatively affected (in most cases) by skinning and bloatware.

    • Taggard Andrews

      $850, but who’s counting. Bought mine today.

      With my $30/month T-Mobile/Wal-Mart sim card, I figure I will be saving $40/month. The phone will pay for itself in under 2 years.

  • http://None Javier Bastardo

    I think is horrible to see a Nexus branded phone, a thing that should be pure Google/Android experience, with not only Verizon bloatware, but they also removed the Google brand from the back and replaced it with Verizon. The Galaxy Nexus should be a Google flagship smartphone, not a phone from Verizon. I’m sure Google had their reasons to do this, but I consider it a mistake.

    • NotRelevent

      They didnt’ completely remove the google branding. The initial start up screen (before the boot animation) still says Google.

      Plus the majority of folks getting this phone will be rooting on the same day…so I don’t see any issue with the verizon apps. Plus I’m sure if you really wanted to get rid of the VZW branding you could acquire a battery cover for the GSM version….that has no branding on it, save for Samsung.

      • http://None Javier Bastardo

        Of course there are ways to go around it. But something they shouldn’t have done by default. I can’t really care much about this anyway, I’m not from U.S., so if I get a chance at the phone it will probably be the International version, but I just believe the Nexus family shouldn’t be bound to any carrier anywhere, period.

  • Mil

    I hate it when carriers add bloatware to normal handsets but to do this on a Google Experience device is just plain wrong. Doesn’t matter if all the carriers want to add are ringtones or wall papers, it goes against whta the Google Experience device stands for.

  • Kaie Kristiansen Esq

    Jesus christ you people are fucking insane.

    OH NOES! The carrier included an app to make changes to my account and pay my bill……

    If you don’t like it don’t buy it and STFU

    • mostlyDigital

      But it’s a NEXUS! It’s like sacred. They’ve insulted what is most holy. Must put on exploding vest and visit Verizon. (PLEASE – DHS, TSA, FBI, I’M JUST KIDDING! I’M JUST TRYING TO MAKE A POINT USING SARCASM.)

      • Kaie Kristiansen Esq

        I just don’t see how its THAT big of a deal.

        Being able to make changes to your account via an app does not ruin the “Google experience”.

        If it had all the vcast shit, slacker radio, and game demos… then yeah… it’s ridiculous.

        But condone…….come on

  • Slith

    Called it!

  • Jerome

    I want pure if I wanted bloatware I could buy a different phone… need to stop VZW from doing this

  • Brandon P.

    Bloat = bad. period.

    this is the same with mac vs pc

    Windows PCs are cheap due to bloatware acting as advertisements for the companies who load that crap onto windows.

    mac is bloat free – you get what you pay for, and if you pay $200-300+ for a phone, it should come bone stock so YOU can do what YOU want to do with it.

    If a phone comes packed with bloatware, no matter how fancy the device, it should become cheaper on contract for having the end user put up with all the crap on their phones.

    • Barr

      Mac is expensive due to the brand, design, and OS. Bloatware has nothing to do with it.

    • Transient

      Android phones do have less profit margins than the iPhone so they are technically cheaper from the perspective, hence the bloat.

    • snowbdr89

      You can also delete bloatware on your pc but id take my alieneare m17 over a crapbook anyday. : )

  • snowbdr89

    The question id like to know is it going to be unlocked so has anyone read anything about it being unlocked?

    • Taggard Andrews

      I am a GSM guy, so forgive the ignorance. What good is an unlocked CDMA phone? You can’t put a T-Mobile or AT&T sim into it. Can you walk into a Sprint store and have them switch you over? Will they do it? Virgin Mobile and Cricket are CDMA too, I think, will they activate your unlocked phone on their networks?

      • snowbdr89

        No one really cares about tmo or att. : )

      • snowbdr89

        Unlocked bootloader = custom kernels an overclocking or underclock if u must know dipshit

  • mostlyDigital

    If every buyer of the new Nexus emailed Google and requested the release of a clean ROM it would be interesting to see the result. Verizon won’t. Samsung can’t. But Google could.

    It might require unlocking, but Google could.

  • Robert

    If they get away with this now imagine what will become later. Ill bet the rom is not clean either. Verizon needs to stay out of “our devices” they are as bad a apple….

  • Nick Sloan

    Perhaps these are normal apps that have just been side-loaded on and are removable. If that is the case, I really don’t have a problem with it at all.

  • Rovex

    If you want a bloat free phone you should buy it SIM free. Networks (or carriers as you Americans say) cant help but mess with contract phones, its in their nature.

    It could be worse, in the UK Orange completely replaced the Symbian interface on many Nokias with an absolutely hateful home screen. They totally ruined the devices.

    My Galaxy Nexus is from a reseller, a factory standard unit, its already rooted..

  • Bart

    Some people here really make an art out of blowing stuff out of proportion. It’s 2 lousy apps:/ just freeze the apps and be done with it, or root and remove it if it’s really a big deal to you (most people here will root anyway…).

    And I get that it’s not 100% pure Google now, but 99.99% pure Google is a great deal, especially when the solution here is so simple…

    • Kaie Kristiansen Esq

      Thank you.

  • onthecouchagain

    Don’t forget about the Verizon-branded logo on the back of the US Galaxy Nexus.

  • KenG

    It means Google has sold out the name “Nexus”. That used to mean pure Android, but now it’s just another marketing tool for the carriers. Say what you want about Apple, but they would have told Verizon to stuff it, I don’t know why Google doesn’t exercise some of their muscle – maybe they’re not aware of it, but android is a big hit. They should say “this is the build that is shipping for nexus branded phones, take it or leave it”.

    • tim

      Google did that when they let Samsung put Galaxy before Nexus.

  • Fandroid

    Hey. Don’t forget that Android ice cream brings the possibility to “freeze” such applicatons so they didn’t appear in the app launcher or somewhere else. Therefore I think it isn’t a big deal.

  • Nathan

    It just two thing get over it

  • Cody

    Not even the N1 had a “pure” AOSP experience, unless you consider Facebook and AmazonMP3 part of the “pure” Android experience (they were uninstallable). People are freaking out over something that never existed in the first place.

  • mimogear

    That’s a let-down -.- I’m more worried about start-up process management at this point than these two little baddies. But hell I want this device anyway!! XDD

  • pchristensen

    What really surprises me is that I only noticed one post that mentioned the upgrade scenario. Although there are only two apps, if they’re baked in to the system from Verizon, that means that upgrades are going to have to come from Verizon, and not Google. For me, that’s one of the biggest points of having a Nexus in the first place. I don’t have to rely on a manufacturer to tell me when to upgrade, I don’t have to wait on a carrier, who has a history of screwing up the upgrades, to tell me when to upgrade. I get to get my upgrade from the source.

  • jckeyes

    I’m not too worried about it. As long as it doesn’t have as many Verizon crap-apps as the last update of my Incredible, I’ll be happy.

  • iDavey

    It’s not a “problem” per se…
    But it’s the fact that this should be a phone without carrier interference.

    On top of these two apps, it has Verizon branding on it now also.

    From a person that used both Nexus’ before this, this seems off. That’s not what I’ve come to know a Nexus device as being.
    Then intentionally making the Nexus an exclusive, keeping the carrier that has always taken risks with you away from it, and giving the carrier that shunned the first two versions it seems ridiculous.

    They could at least sell it completely unlocked from Google or Samsung and give us the ability. This is just ridiculous. Really upsets me.

    • Taggard Andrews

      Don’t buy it through a carrier. Get it unlocked, unbranded and brand new from eBay.

  • mmalakai1

    The nexus brand with bloat wear isn’t a nexus at all. Bloat wear only takes up space and if the app is that serious that I must have the market will provide it any way. I don’t like carrier apps becuz there are always apps I don’t use from the bloatwear. Let me decide what I put on,my phone besides Google apps.

  • Monochrome

    I was already debating getting an international HSPA+ version and switching to a T-Mobile value you plan to save some money by dumping Verizon. If this turns out to be true, it’ll probably push me over the edge.

    Anyone know if you can get the Americanized english on a UK/international version of this phone?

  • YNWA

    Damn you mean I won’t get the Verizon Ringtone app?? Bummer.

  • Kevin DeLorey

    Personally, I will be rooting the device but either way it would not bother me. With Android 4.0 it has the ability to hide unwanted apps.

  • RobBull75

    A Google experience device should be just that – a pure Android experience. Verizon and other major carriers should not be able to do this on a Nexus device. I would like to see it be done away with completely. To me, this is no different than the OEMs throwing their garbage UI’s on top of Android. It is something Google should fight.

  • thaJack

    Typically, removing Backup Assistant (when rooted) will render your device unbootable.

  • John Hallman

    After using various other Android devices, I’d have to say the call of the Nexus was always the “Pure Google” experience. In this iteration, the main draw seems to be Ice Cream Sandwich since, as we all know, the hardware is nothing exceptional. Part of me thinks that including any form of bloatware to this, especially as the first ICS experience, is wrong. Even for something as benign as a backup application and a wireless account app fundamentally take this experience away.

    For the sake of argument, though, this is not as intrusive as other carriers (AT&T…) have gotten with their bloatware. Perhaps if this came with the option to uninstall it from the start, or maybe if the user was prompted to install it (by choice) when they set up the phone, the dilemma would be resolved.

    Although I’m not happy about the inclusion of this software, I really don’t see it causing me to buy another device.

  • Carlos Moreno

    But how will this affect updates. Will the apps be doomed when Google updates it (I hope so) or is it gonna be delayed because Verizon has to test their apps. Not to mention remove Google wallet in each update. I bet this nexus is screwed.

  • pritams

    Easy answer………