South Korea outlaws uninstallable Android bloatware

BY Abhijeet Mishra

Published 25 Jan 2014


Carrier and manufacturer bloatware has long been a bane for Android users, often serving no purpose other than taking up valuable storage space and irritating you with their presence when you’re surfing through your app drawer. But for smartphone users in South Korea, bloatware will cease to be an issue very soon, as the country’s government has ruled that users must be offered an option to delete any preinstalled app from their device. 

Korea’s Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning (MISP) is putting its foot down, ruling that apart from functionality related to Wi-Fi connectivity, near-field communication (NFC), customer service and the app store, everything must be uninstallable. To take an example, this will give a user of SK Telecom’s Galaxy S4 the option to remove almost 25 preloaded apps. The ruling – which will come into effect in April – aims to “rectify an abnormal practice that causes inconvenience to smartphone users and causes unfair competition among industry players,” enabling them to get better battery life and reclaim some storage space.

The rule might extend to apps loaded on to the device by the manufacturer and even Google, which could be a cause for worry for companies like Samsung and LG, who differentiate their devices through a plethora of add-on apps and features that often cannot be disabled (unless you have root access.) At the moment, however, it’s just carrier bloatware that’s been dealt a blow, though it’s still a huge step towards solving one of the long-standing and most grating issues on Android.

Any bets on when the US will follow in the South Korean government’s footsteps?