back to article Android users: Are you ready for the great unbundling?

It's June, so it must be the season to fine Alphabet billions of euros. According to Reuters' sources, a second big fine will be imposed on Google's parent company next week by the European Commission, this time for abusing its dominance of smartphone platforms. In addition to the fine, the newswire reported, the Commission …

Anonymous Coward

It's not really their apps, it's Google Play Services

I had a Blackberry z10 and it ran most android apps but some would refuse to install without Google Play Services and, more annoyingly, more would install, pop up an error saying they needed it, then ran perfectly without it. It takes up loads of room, requires full permissions, updates itself without warning and I assume tells Mountain View whenever I have a bowel movement*.

*or do any other kind of sh!t their advertisers might want to know

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Re: It's not really their apps, it's Google Play Services

How else are they going to try and flog you a pack of bog roll?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: It's not really their apps, it's Google Play Services

Don't be ridiculous. They're not interested in your bowel movements. Now your porn tastes on the other hand....

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Anonymous Coward

Re: It's not really their apps, it's Google Play Services

> tells Mountain View whenever I have a bowel movement*.

Where exactly do you keep your phone?

And do the guards do intimate searches where you are currently 'on vacation' ?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: It's not really their apps, it's Google Play Services

To be fair, I doubt it was Google insisting these apps needed the Play Services - it’s lazy app developers.

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Vanila OS base

Battling currently with Google Play trying to update applications I've in theory disabled on my S9+ so I'm looking forward to a clean open source OS that I don't have to have EITHER Google or Samsung versions of the applications which compete with the Linux compatible ones I run on my desktop. Looks like LineageOS 15.1 is reaching a stable point and it will be nice to get that loaded.

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Re: Vanila OS base

Personally one of the main requirements for me is a stock OS on a phone. My previous phone was a Nexus 4 with stock Android and I recently upgraded to a Nokia 6 a few months ago, which is also running stock Android. (It's part of Google's Android One scheme). I find that when you're using the OS in its stock form without other manufacturer's apps and bundled bloatware running over the top, it runs really well. I've also got a Nexus 7 2013 tablet too, also running stock Android. Obviously this doesn't really address your comment of getting away from Google's and Samsung's software, but certainly if you leave Android as is without modifying it and installing unnecessary extras, it runs pretty well without issues

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Stop

Re: Vanila OS base

Which ironically is the only thing this EU meddling will ruin.

Expect MORE bundling of shite, not less.. Consumers will be losers once again in all of this.

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Re: Vanila OS base

"Battling currently with Google Play trying to update applications I've in theory disabled on my S9+ "

I've found that too.

LinkedIn can fuck off to fuckoffsville. Having it attempt to undisable itself moves from spamware into flat out maliciousness.

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Re: Vanila OS base

most useful thing would be to legislate to prevent all the pre installed crud (be it telco / handset manufacturer added) being system (and so not removable by non root user) - as most consumers get handsets full of dross installed.

e.g. Facebook often added as system app FFS - I don't use FB and its a total pain to have to root a phone to get rid of an unwanted app plus risk of something going wrong as rooting breaks warranty

I'm sure lots of people are happy at FB by default, great - I understand its popular (and I assume some other pre installed dross), but just make it simple for us (who want a pared down phone) to uninstall junk.

Yes I know there are vanilla phones out there but they are expensive (& I can't justify big bucks on a phone) - and sadly most cheap and cheerful phones come with some amount of non removable dross.

.. and force the manufacturers to give security updates, not treating a "new" phone as something to never get a patch ever. If a phone is being sold then should be patches for at least 3 years after it is last on sale IMHO.

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Bronze badge

Good and we need manufacturers to stop preinstalling other bloatware like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Whatsapp and all the other privacy invading apps.If we want to install them, then the manufacturers can assume consent for data collection. Everybody knows were they then stand !

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Good and we need manufacturers to stop preinstalling other bloatware like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Whatsapp

See the comment above from the tastefully monikered Fred West. You and I might want manufacturers and networks to stop preloading shite, but the EU's actions are actually about freeing up these other parties to dob as much shit on handsets as they wish.

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DJO
Silver badge

dob as much shit on handsets as they wish.

But it must be GDPR compliant shit or even more fines. Compliance here means no assumption of permission, no pre-selected opt-ins, full declaration of any data gathered and the ability to uninstall unwanted crud.

What they (possibly inadvertently) give with one hand, they take away with the other. Overall this should benefit consumers.

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Anonymous Coward

"ability to uninstall unwanted crud."

Asww bless, you created your very own personal GDPR2 wishlist..

Preinstalled crud is crud regardless of its GPDR status, and there is nothing that says it needs to be fully removable..

This EU meddling will made things WAY worse, just like most EU tech meddling always does.. they simply don't fully think things through.

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It is easily GDPR compliant if it gathers information in a way that means it cannot be related to an individual. Loads of the advertising gumpf that these apps collect doesn't have to personally identify anyone.

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"GDPR compliant shit or even more fines. Compliance here means"

...A big long list of things that aren't necessary for compliance. There are five other lawful bases other than consent.

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I remember taking 3 passes deleting APKs and rebooting just to excise Facebook from my Xperia, it was so deeply hooked into the OS. Had to root the phone to do it. Or doing the same to remove useless duplicate mail, store, maps and more from my wife's Orange mangled San Francisco.

It was a happy day when Google started restricting how and what crap OEM's could peinstal. When I disable built in stuff on my current devices they stay disabled, even googles system services, without root. Then again I don't install malware like linkedin or Facebork.

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A sea of crapware

If android handsets aren't obliged to use Google's apps then they're going to pack in even more crapware than they already do.

I would much prefer that Google obligate handset users NOT to install any superfluous apps (Google's or anyone else's) and if necessary present users the choice during setup which ones they want.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: A sea of crapware

That would only work if vanilla Android would actually properly talk open standards. The fact that I need plugins to make applications work with caldav and carddav is rather illustrative of just what a scam the whole "open source" moniker is for Android.

Personally I would have preferred that the EU folk would just make that as mandatory as fine grained permission control ought to be.

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Re: A sea of crapware

"I would much prefer that Google obligate handset users NOT to install any superfluous apps (Google's or anyone else's) and if necessary present users the choice during setup which ones they want."

They can install any old crap they want, and as much as they like as far as I'm concerned, so long as it is just installed and not part of the factory firmware image. They can pre-install their shite on the condition I can remove it if I choose.

I have a Galaxy Note and wonder just how many Galaxy Note users out there ever actually use any of the pre-installed Samsung apps. I have 25 Samsung and Google apps "disabled" but which can't be removed. There's probably more i could get rid off, but I'm never too sure what else might use the remaining shite as dependencies. And didn't Hangouts go EOL? That's still there and I can't delete it.

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Re: A sea of crapware

Samsung is terrible for crapware.

I love most everything about my company provided S7 Edge, except for all the Samsung apps that duplicate the functionality of the Google apps on the phone.

I can't get rid of them, and they just take up space.

Comparatively, Moto G LTE is not as great a phone (screen and keyboard too small for my fat thumbs), but the almost vanilla Android is really nice. And the Moto apps don't duplicate the Google ones.

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ST
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Mushroom

stimulate innovation and increase choice for consumers

Riiiiiiiiiight.

No utility to root your phone. If you want to root by building your own kernel, and disabling RIC, must unlock bootloader. If you unlock bootloader, you lose 25% of functionality. Hit the Intertubes and figure out which OEM libraries must be saved before unlocking the bootloader, so you can restore some functionality back.

By default, can't uninstall Facebook Slurp or Amazon Slurp. Can't uninstall OEM bloatware. Need root.

Annoying, idiotic and constant stream of Android Assistant suggestions about where to get coffee or where to buy toothpaste.

Google Maps, Drive, Chrome, Movies &TV, YouTube constantly running in the background for no real reason. Facebook and Amazon too.

300+ Google Services constantly running in the background. No obvious reason why or what for.

Android Assistant deciding that the photos you stored on your memory card - if you're lucky enough to have one - have too high resolution. Proceed to lower the resolution on all your photos, without asking for permission. Make them all look like goat ass.

Industrial-scale slurping. GPS Location Tracking enabled by default, making sure your battery drains before the end of the day. Also: We Know Where You've Been. OEM's love this feature as the batteries aren't replaceable. So you need to buy a new phone every year because the battery won't charge to 100% anymore.

I really, truly feel that my choices as a consumer have been vastly expanded. Not.

It took me 2 months of work to get my Sony phone working the way I want it to work. Slurp-O-Rama gone. One battery charge now lasts 2 days. Sorry, Sony. No new phone this year, or next.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: stimulate innovation and increase choice for consumers

Weird, as my Pixel 2 does literally NONE of those things... I think you just invented that list, or you bought a really bad entry level phone where the manufacturer subsided the cheap price by bundling all sorts of crap.

Stop being a cheapskate would be my advise, you get what you pay for.

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Mushroom

Re: stimulate innovation and increase choice for consumers

> Stop being a cheapskate would be my advise, you get what you pay for.

Xperia XZ Premium. Not exactly cheapskate. But thanks for your efforts.

I am sure that your Pixel is absolutely positively orgasmic.

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Re: stimulate innovation and increase choice for consumers

Sony do it to all their phones. Pick a less abusive brand.

LG at least require you to enable their relatively small bunch of apps, infinitely preferable. First phones I've not immediately rooted.

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Re: stimulate innovation and increase choice for consumers

Haha, yes, with sony yes you pay extra but its not for control of the device, that is for sure.

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Anonymous Coward

EU not content

With making websites shite by forcing intrusive cookie notices, and then still not content and made everything online shite with GDPR, they now want to make smartphones shite by allowing manufacturers and networks to not bundle Google apps, and load their shite instead.

This will only end badly for consumers, as clearly nothing in life is free, play services are included on top of AOSP as part of a deal, you can't assume taking the pay part and keeping the free part won't come with some other price (I suspect Android going closed source, manufacturers paying for Android, and passing that onto consumers and creating a huge fragmented market on the process..)

Wonder what evil corp is behind this, apple or Microsoft???

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Re: EU not content

American Anonymous Coward I assume !?

As living in the EU I actually like GDPR, oh and corporations being held to account over anti-competitive behaviour.

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LDS
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Re: EU not content

So why Microsoft couldn't bundle IE and Media Player for free? Why it couldn't pay OEMs to install Windows as part of the deal, so you didn't have to pay a full license?

Actually, Windows became much more free and many applications were able to compete with Microsoft one - Chrome would have gone nowhere otherwise - and consumers benefited from it.

It's very funny that now Google being the new Microsoft, people who complained a lot about MS behaviours 20 years ago now are fully ready to praise them from Google. That's plain hypocrisy.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: EU not content

Smartphones and PCs are totally different. How they are used, how they are serviced, their lifespan, their upgradability, their app model, everything essentially.

It's laughable how people don't understand this.

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Re: EU not content

You have any idea where you are commenting?

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Re: EU not content

"It's very funny that now Google being the new Microsoft, people who complained a lot about MS behaviours 20 years ago now are fully ready to praise them from Google."

I'm not sure about that. I think people who complained about M/S then are also complaining about Google now.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Smartphones and PCs are totally different

One's a computer I sit at and the other is a computer in my pocket that also makes phone calls. Prove me wrong.

Lifespan/"upgradability"/app model = Gaming PC/Apple Computers/Windows Store

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Gold badge

Re: EU not content

"Smartphones and PCs are totally different. How they are used, how they are serviced, their lifespan, their upgradability, their app model, everything essentially."

Perhaps they are, but they needn't be. They are both just computers running a UNIX-like operating system. The hardware in both ought to last for a decade or more and, these days at least, is probably powerful enough to still be useful at the end of that period unless you deliberately bloat your OS with a fresh waggon-load of badly written shit every year. Differences in physical size affect their use, but there's no reason why you couldn't plug a phone into a base-station and use a full-size keyboard and mouse. Nor is there any reason to tie one device to a walled garden and let the other run software from old-fashioned third parties.

Funnily enough, though, the big vendors prefer you to upgrade every few years and aren't above using update-starvation to force that issue. They also prefer you to buy two separate devices and synchronise everything by sharing it with their cloud storage. Finally, they would much prefer if you stopped speaking directly to those third-parties and instead used an app store where they get a cut for doing sweet fuck all.

But yeah, it's laughable how people don't understand this.

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Re: EU not content

"plug a phone into a base-station and use a full-size keyboard and mouse"

The Motorola Droid Bionic had this capability.

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Def
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Re: EU not content

Ken, I agree with everything you say except for this:

They are both just computers running a UNIX-like operating system.

All my computers and my phone run Windows 10. ;)

...but there's no reason why you couldn't plug a phone into a base-station and use a full-size keyboard and mouse.

Yep, I do that from time to time. If more hotels provided decent screens, I would probably start leaving my laptop at home and just take my phone, mouse, and keyboard.

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Re: EU not content

"All my computers and my phone run Windows 10. ;)"

Sorry, but I'm old enough to reckon that Windows 10 is a UNIX-like operating system. It has been evolving in that direction for a couple of decades and was closer than some others even to begin with.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: EU not content

> Sorry, but I'm old enough to reckon that Windows 10 is a UNIX-like operating system. It has been evolving in that direction for a couple of decades and was closer than some others even to begin with.

Yep, I totally second that observation. In another decade Windows will be a compatibility layer running on top of Linux, much like Wine is/used to be.

I shall leave this prediction here for posterity. :-)

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Re: EU not content

Docking a cell phone in a base station...

Sounds like the Motorola Atrix, it had a keyboard/touchpad base with a laptop style screen. You docked the phone behind the LCD.

https://www.cnet.com/news/how-does-the-motorola-atrix-4g-lapdock-compare-with-a-laptop/

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Re: EU not content...POSIX

"Sorry, but I'm old enough to reckon that Windows 10 is a UNIX-like operating system. "

A confusion there. Both Windows and Linux, along with Unix and QNX, are POSIX-compliant and have been for a long time, except for Winds 8 (which was a fustercluck anyway). For Windows 10, there is Windows Subsystem for Linux.

Windows Kernel is in no sense UNIX-like.

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LDS
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"are POSIX-compliant"

The POSIX subsystem of Windows was a very limited one, mostly available for commercial reasons only, and it needed Software Services for Unix to get a decent source code compatibility.

Now Windows 10 has Linux running on top the Windows APIs, not viceversa. The kernel are quite different.

And again I warn about the risks of having a single codebase for everything. A big bug could become really catastrophic and put at risk any system.

True evolution need competition and diversity.

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LDS
Silver badge

" I think people who complained about M/S then are also complaining about Google now."

Not everybody - there's a not small group who hates MS but praises Google whatever it does - there are of course those who praise MS whatever - it's still a kind of tribalism, never assess what the situation really is, and what are the benefits, just take a tribe, and sell your brain away.

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Def
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Re: EU not content

In another decade Windows will be a compatibility layer running on top of Linux...

No, it won't. :)

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Anonymous Coward

Re: EU not content...POSIX

> Windows Kernel is in no sense UNIX-like.

That is precisely why it would be advantageous (to MS) from a cost saving perspective to replace it with a compatibility layer.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: "are POSIX-compliant"

> And again I warn about the risks of having a single codebase for everything. A big bug could become really catastrophic and put at risk any system.

In theory yes. But as is said of Ethernet: it works better in practice than in theory.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: EU not content

> No, it won't. :)

Right! You will buy me that beer in June 2028, Mr(?) Def. >:-)

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Bronze badge

Re: EU not content

Yep, I totally second that observation. In another decade Windows will be a compatibility layer running on top of Linux, much like Wine is/used to be.

Well, knowing Microsoft, I'd expect *BSD rather than Linux, but same conceptual design. I've thought MS missed a good opportunity when the ReWind project forked off of Wine (and died soon afterwards). Since ReWind had stayed with the X11 licence that Wine was moving away from, MS could have picked it up to become a compatibility layer for MSWindows. These days it would be handy for them to have a Wine-type runtime to handle many of the legacy APIs they's like to remove from the core OS. Then the core could get cleaned up, making the system faster and more stable.

Of course, this would have risked some useful code making it's way into the Wine project (and probably ReactOS as well), and MS couldn't have that.

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Big Brother

Google & Contacts

Google Play / Playstore insists it needs access to my contacts to sync.

I discovered a permission somewhere and disabled it.

By default permissions are ON.

By default Google creates a copy of every phone contact on "Google Contacts" Every information added on phone. I didn't realise such a thing existed and is web accessible to anyone that has the google account details.

You should NOT have to create/use a Google (email) Account to use an Android phone.

You can't remove GoogleMaps, YouTube, Chrome etc on my tablet or phone.

I dare not connect my Android TV to the network!

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Re: Google & Contacts

"You should NOT have to create/use a Google (email) Account to use an Android phone."

You don't have to. One of the guys who works for me uses an Android phone that is not linked to Google.

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Re: Google & Contacts

You should NOT have to create/use a Google (email) Account to use an Android phone.

And you don't have to. Just skip the prompts, root the phone, install FDroid and/or sideload the apps you want and you're good to go.

Just don't ask for a painelss experience syncronizing your calendar with your own server.

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