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 …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    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

    1. Efer Brick

      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?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      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....

    3. Anonymous Coward
      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' ?

    4. Anonymous Coward
      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.

  2. lsces

    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.

    1. TechnicianJack

      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

      1. Anonymous Coward
        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.

        1. tiggity Silver badge

          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.

    2. Alan Brown Silver badge

      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.

  3. Wolfclaw Silver 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 !

    1. Ledswinger Silver badge

      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.

      1. 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.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          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.

        2. Timmy B Silver badge

          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.

        3. Adam 52 Silver badge

          "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.

      2. Paul Shirley

        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.

  4. DrXym Silver badge

    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.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      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.

    2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      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.

      1. Montreal Sean

        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.

  5. ST Silver badge
    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.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      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.

      1. ST Silver badge
        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.

        1. tojb

          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.

      2. Paul Shirley

        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.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    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???

    1. IneptAdept

      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.

    2. LDS Silver badge

      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.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        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.

        1. Chris G Silver badge

          Re: EU not content

          You have any idea where you are commenting?

        2. Anonymous Coward
          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

        3. Ken Hagan 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.

          1. Wilseus

            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.

          2. Def Silver badge

            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.

            1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

              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.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                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. :-)

                1. Voyna i Mor Silver badge

                  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.

                  1. LDS Silver badge

                    "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.

                    1. Anonymous Coward
                      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.

                  2. Anonymous Coward
                    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.

                2. Def Silver badge

                  Re: EU not content

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

                  No, it won't. :)

                  1. Anonymous Coward
                    Anonymous Coward

                    Re: EU not content

                    > No, it won't. :)

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

                3. jelabarre59 Silver 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.

          3. Montreal Sean

            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/

      2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        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.

        1. 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.

  7. Mage Silver badge
    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!

    1. Wilseus

      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.

      1. Alumoi

        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.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Google & Contacts

          You don't have to root the phone. You really shouldn't root the phone, that ISA very bad thing to do from a security point of view.

          If you really want to downgrade your phone, don't sign in during setup, and sideload install fdroid app store. Be very careful what you install however. When you live outside Google's relatively safe store, things aren't so nice. Fdroid is of course a safe haven, bit enabling sideload for that enables sideload for anything else too...

          1. pakman

            Re: Google & Contacts

            "If you really want to downgrade your phone, don't sign in during setup, and sideload install fdroid app store. Be very careful what you install however. When you live outside Google's relatively safe store, things aren't so nice. Fdroid is of course a safe haven, bit enabling sideload for that enables sideload for anything else too..."

            Once you have installed F-Droid, you can use it to install Yalp. If from that point on you only install apps from F-Droid or using Yalp I don't think that you are in any danger from rogue apps (at least, you are in no more danger than from using the Google Play Store directly).

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Google & Contacts

              With sideloading enabled, you are always in danger. That malicious webpage that wants to install an app that clean your system?? This it's its primary atack vector, and disabling of sideloading (the default behaviour) the primary protection protection mechanism.

              It's driving without seatbelts, it's fine and dandy until it all goes wrong.....

              The sooner Google just remove sideloading the better I think... Of course evetyone will cry foul and blame Google (not malware writers) and claim monopoly not security, bit these people are bellends.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Google & Contacts

            > Google's relatively safe store

            Judging from the available evidence, that would be so only for very large values of "relative" or very small values of "safe".

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Google & Contacts

              Google play is a safe haven. Only a total retard that can't spot fake news would actually think otherwise...

      2. pɹɐʍoɔ snoɯʎuouɐ

        Re: Google & Contacts

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

        you dont have to....

        but why not use a single gmail account when you set up your phone to use with the app store and other google apps?

      3. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

        Re: Google & Contacts

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

        and

        "You should NOT have to create/use a Microsoft Account to use a Windows 10 device."[1]

        The Pupil is learning from the master...

        [1]You can but it isn't obvious so most people simply sign up for a Microsoft ID. I guess the same applies to Googe wrt Android.

        It is almost as if the Android Wild West show is getting a bit stale and needs refreshing (badly).

        I'd thought that we were past the day when we had apps like Twitter and Facebork that could not removed. If the EU stops this practice then it can't come a day too soon for me.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Google & Contacts

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

      You do not need one.

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

      Yes you can.

      But...

      It should be straightforward to do so and not require a whole evening and advanced skills to bring the device to a usable state after having taken the sort of precautions that would normally be associated with seriously illegal activities. :-(

      1. Paul Shirley

        Re: Google & Contacts

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

        If you want to recover the system partition space they occupy you'll have a route challenge. I highly recommend not attempting to resize partitions so you won't really get the space back. Converting user apps to system can do that but just don't do it of you value security.

        Do the easy thing, use apps settings to disable them. Malware laden devices might fight back but otherwise they vanish and user space they're using gets freed. Well, that works now...

  8. Jamie Jones Silver badge

    If you think google is bad.....

    ... the third party app and ad makers are 100% worse.

    Sure, this is probably down to being under more scrutiny, but google is refreshingly honest when compared to the pondscum out there who I'm sure have been breaking the law long before GDPR..

  9. 89724102371714531892324I9755670349743096734346773478647852349863592355648544996313855148583659264921

    Most people think Chrome is the ONLY browser...

    ...they look befuddled and confused when I suggest they have the worst possible mobile browser installed.

    1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

      Re: Most people think Chrome is the ONLY browser...

      I tried mobile Firefox a few months ago but it crashed on startup, which IMHO makes it slightly worse than Chrome.

      But cheap snarks aside ... What are people's suggestions for a decent mobile browser?

      1. Captain Hogwash Silver badge

        Re: Most people think Chrome is the ONLY browser...

        Lightning FTW!

        1. Captain Hogwash Silver badge

          Re: Most people think Chrome is the ONLY browser...

          Why is Lightning so unpopular? What don't I know about it that others know?

      2. dbtx Bronze badge
        Facepalm

        cr-app

        I tried FF last year and the thing I really liked was being able to start a song or 70-minute mix on Youtube and have it keep playing while I looked at another app or locked the screen. The YT app and the other browsers (admittedly only tried Chrome and the AOSP default "Browser" so far) stop the music. The reason I don't bother to install it again is that running a web browser or playing music are not things that my phone needs to be able to do.

        OTOH, right now I have 2 phones with Lineage 14.1 (making it possible to read this article ITFP) and suddenly neither can make a phone call because the godforsaken app won't run. "Phone has stopped" over and over again, even after a full wipe and clean reinstall. Lineage 15.1 was officially released for one of them, and it never makes a data connection-- so I had to downgrade-- but it still makes calls. I had to reflash it just to call up my carrier and have them associate my SIM with the other IMEI so I could go back to the phone that worked a week ago-- and now it doesn't call either. I'm guessing I need to "wipe it harder", or maybe there's something obscure that changed in the SIM that's throwing it off. It's like it mutated into the perfect anti-modem: we used to have to use the phone line to get on the net, now my internet connection is terrible at making phone calls.

        1. dbtx Bronze badge

          n.b.

          Opera is also in Play's app list. I forgot about it because I didn't keep using it because it also stopped the music.

          also, I wiped it harder and it seems to be functioning again... sigh.

          also, I lied. I really do need a browser, to use the ordinary WWW versions of ordinary things which they also have apps for, like checking the weather, and ignoring all those invitations to use their GOD DAMNED APP instead.

      3. To Mars in Man Bras!
        Thumb Up

        Re: Most people think Chrome is the ONLY browser...

        >What are people's suggestions for a decent mobile browser?

        I use Yandex Browser Alpha. It's very stable. Has Text Reflow a la Opera and plugin support too. And, unlike Firefox, it's not so slow continental drift gives it a nosebleed.

        Gotta use the Alpha version though. The release and beta versions don't support plugins, for some odd reason.

      4. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Most people think Chrome is the ONLY browser...

        > What are people's suggestions for a decent mobile browser?

        Ach! Das ist Klar.

      5. Cederic

        Re: Most people think Chrome is the ONLY browser...

        I find the Samsung browser very usable. Terrible home page options but works well and their response to "Please allow us to open new tabs in the background" was adding that feature in the next update.

        Supports ad blocking properly too.

        Just don't use it as an embedded browser inside the email client. That's bad.

      6. tiggity Silver badge

        Re: Most people think Chrome is the ONLY browser...

        In terms of big name browsers

        Firefox is good on mobile (as some decent privacy / security add ons), but eats battery and MUST be closed down when not in use if you want your battery to not be hammered.

        Opera is OK (unlike desktop the VPN is a separate app on mobile, not inbuilt)

        There's plenty of less well known browsers, but as FF does the job for me, I have been idle and not investigated much.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Adventures in a NEW Android 6 Phone

    Overall, you can disable and de-permission most of the more obvious Google apps. But not the System-Updater: 'FirebaseInstanceIDService' which phones home constantly. Other notable mentions that can't be disabled are MTKLogger / MTKThermal / Regulatory & Safety [com.jrdcom.elabel] and [com.tcl.ota].

    Its far harder to view running Apps & Services vs Android-4 too. You have to enable Developer-Options, then go there each time to see what's running etc. Next up Facebook... The Facebook-App can be uninstalled.. However, the Facebook-App-Installer and Facebook-App-Manager can't be uninstalled but CAN BE Disabled (Alcatel).

    However, after doing this, almost no functionality exists on the phone anymore unlike Android-4. You can't even view photos taken with the Camera. Planning to visit F-Droid soon to look for a Firewall to block the rest. Hopefully we can find less-slurpy App replacement too... Any recommendations folks??? Maybe there are enough replacement apps and we can block everything else that looks suspect. But overall, its a fucking joke...

    What a choice... This industrial Slurp or a Feature Phone. Thankfully Signal works ok. Had to be manually installed of course. Something like that would never be installed by default, unlike Gmail/Facebook. It has had to be side-loaded too, to get around not having Google-Play anymore. That means having to download it off Signal's website directly, and manually checking the download integrity by using Java Keytool along with a sha256 check.... Oh boy, what a world!

    1. Chris G Silver badge

      Re: Adventures in a NEW Android 6 Phone

      Make sure to disable Google assistant as that records all of your voice and audio as well slurping from just about every other app, also Google calendar another large drain hole, Simple calendar is a better app that needs nothing from you.

    2. Mr Han

      Re: Adventures in a NEW Android 6 Phone

      I use AFwall+ from f-droid but you need to Root your phone. If you're unfamiliar with rooting then find the forum for your phone on XDA forums and read everything in the Root and Backup sections before you continue.

      YouTube also has good instructionals with links for software required to root.

      It's possible to live without Gapps and get 3 - 4 days battery.

      1. To Mars in Man Bras!

        Re: Adventures in a NEW Android 6 Phone

        Another thumbs up for AFwall+

        If you ever doubted Google was spying on everything you do; root your phone, install AFwall+ and block Gboard [the built in keyboard] from phoning home. Then sit back and watch in disbelief as AFwall+ blocks it from making dozens of attempts to connect to dozens of different IP addresses, almost every time you type something in an app.

    3. Mr Han

      Re: Adventures in a NEW Android 6 Phone

      For less slurpy apps try these:

      First off get F-Droid, then use this to get Yalp Store.

      Use these to download alternative apps such as Simple Calendar, Simple Gallery, Here Maps, OSMand, QKSMS, K9-Mail, VLC, Newpipe (for downloading YT), Webtube (for viewing YT), Total Commander or alternatively Ghost Commander (FOSS), and MUpdf.

      Always start with F-Droid for no slurp FOSS apps, then Yalp store will give you access to Play Store for the rest.

      Yalp store gets you access to Firefox and then you can install Noscript and U-Block.

      I also recommend MOAAB to replace your hosts file (needs root).

      Then

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Adventures in a NEW Android 6 Phone

        > Yalp store gets you access to Firefox and then you can install Noscript and U-Block.

        Firefox is known as Fennec in F-Droid.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Adventures in a NEW Android 6 Phone

      Oh no! It looks as if you purchased one of the phones that Zuckerburg allowed the manufacturer low level access to.

      Those two Facebook related system apps are a dead giveaway.

      "The agreements, which date to at least 2010, gave private access to some user data to Huawei, a telecommunications equipment company that has been flagged by American intelligence officials as a national security threat, as well as to Lenovo, Oppo and TCL."

      TCL=Alcatel

      https://www.nytimes.com/2018/06/05/technology/facebook-device-partnerships-china.html

  11. Field Commander A9

    You want a Google-free Android?

    Come to China, the glorious motherland provides exactly what you're looking for!

  12. joekhul

    Freetard Glory

    Pay nobody else for their work. Take everything for free and complain if anyone else expects anything for it.

    The european model. Why it is such a sh*thole place to live!!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Freetard Glory

      i'd pay a premium for a phone with a root switch and no tracking, adware, bloatware, and other 'features', if the option existed. It doesn't, and if the EU is going to be useful and help get such an option, great.

      Money is NOT the only payment method. Your personal data has value too.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Freetard Glory

      Pay nobody else for their work. Take everything for free and complain if anyone else expects anything for it.

      The european model. Why it is such a sh*thole place to live!!

      So, let's all follow the US model: pay through your nose for everything then complain it's not working as advertised. Sue everyone! Buy politicians to make more laws against the common people! Assume no responsability for your actions! USA! USA! USA!

      1. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: Freetard Glory

        Here's what springs to mind when I read stuff like the OP:

        https://i.pinimg.com/736x/79/52/e7/7952e7cb00baacbe4cb135ba017c6479--obama-birth-certificate-bumper-stickers.jpg

        Thankfully in Europe we now have GDPR regulations and I suspect that's going to result in a lot of the bundled bloatware getting some extra attention.

    3. LDS Silver badge

      Re: Freetard Glory

      It looks it's Google is paying nobody for its work - it didn't even want to pay Java owners to use Java, and tried to copy it - and, after all, Linux came for free from Europe, not the US...

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    New phone time. Question 1. Can it be rooted? If no, move to next phone. If yes, put on shortlist.

    Rooting is absolutely critical, once you've dumped the bloatware, customised the way notifications work in Oreo, got titanium backup running, root cloak for those dumbass apps that thing checking for root is a thing, stopped that EU mandated nonsense that drops the volume every 20h of playtime.. there's no going back.

    An unrooted phone is like buying a backpack that comes preloaded with a bunch of stuff you don't want, but can't take out, that triples its weight and halves the potential for useful utility.

  14. ColonelDare

    I'm waiting for one of these....

    https://www.techradar.com/news/project-zerophone-the-ambitious-diy-raspberry-pi-phone

    Or maybe I'll wait for Mk II. :-)

  15. Chronos Silver badge

    Do what now?

    Oh, you mean that shite that gets installed when you flash Gapps. No, sorry, none of that has ever been on my handset. F-Droid has all the apps I need, thanks. I even completely remove that poxy Jelly browser from my builds because I don't trust it. Icecat Mobile is much better.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Meh

    The first thing I did when I got my new mobile phone was turn off internet access in it's many forms, and have only turned it on to get a few security updates, the second thing I did was disable google play and other crap.

    I use the phone as a phone as I have other devices and means I prefer accessing the internet with and I only use a mobile to save paying $30au in line rental and make only a few calls. I would prefer a line phone to save carrying around and having to charge the thing, not to mention using a nice handset that is comfortable to hold nice against my ear and easy to hear..

    About the only thing I will miss is the notepad and calendar, but could have purchased an electronic PIM years ago for $5.00.

    And as most phone companies do not update their older handsets to newer operating system versions I am likely to never get another one. So don't waste your $ paying google.

    1. Paul Shirley

      Seems like a lot out trouble to avoid buying a dumb or feature phone...

      1. Teiwaz Silver badge

        reputation suicide.

        Seems like a lot out trouble to avoid buying a dumb or feature phone...

        Apparently, being seen with a dumb phone is akin to going to a trendy big city nightclub dressed as a Bay City Roller.

        I don't have a reputation, and if I did I wouldn't give a damn, rather have something that doesn't drain it's battery inside half a day trying to report back my every movement and run a too high def for the size screen and cost almost as much as a real computer.

  17. Daggerchild Silver badge

    Keep the fruit, just replace the tree!

    I do hope the EU get what they're asking for.

    If you're doing security armour all the way from the UI to the metal, legally forcing you to allow people to replace parts of that chain, with code from manufacturers notorious for abandoning software, is going to be so much fun.

    "<Firstly,> required manufacturers to pre-install Google Search and the Chrome browser"

    Note: This restriction is on the manufacturers. Not the users. The users can already change them. But the manufacturers want to make the choice instead of the users, because THEY want the user's data... Remind me who the EU are fighting for here, with no EU phonemaker..

    "Secondly, Google stopped OEMs from running open Android devices"

    Translation: It is evil that Google are not forced to give you their appstore so you don't have to write one when you copy their OS, like Amazon did.

    "thirdly, they alleged financial incentives were given to operators and phone-makers to pre-install search"

    See first point.

    The free-range sheep watch the wolves attack the farmer, and cheer them on.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It’s simple, people...

    Upgrade to an iPhone.

  19. Terry 6 Silver badge

    Insulting too.

    Yes

    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.

    This idea, which is common to Google/Microsoft/Samsung/et al, that some apps have to be unremovable is strangely insulting. Why do I have to have software clogging my device that I won't ever use? By all means put it on the machine if they must. But forcing it to remain there? Why? What do they think they'll gain by insisting that Twitter or "Connect" are fixed into our devices? Should we want these things they are easy enough to obtain. An OS should make the device work. A mobile OS arguably needs the basic phone/text software as well. But beyond that there is no need to glue stuff in there.

  20. Alan Brown Silver badge

    Other issues raise their head

    Like Samsung putting some kind of fusible link (knox) on their phones when you root to remove the unwanted shit, which allows them to deny warranty because you've "damaged" it.

    It's my fucking phone. This is pissing all over it and claiming that it's your even more than Microsoft's worst behaviour

  21. Rainer

    You people are funny

    Someone has to pay for all this stuff.

    People want cheap phones, an OS and apps with no ads but for free and all open-source.

    Unless you get the taxpayer to subsidize it, that's not going to happen.

    1. Teiwaz Silver badge

      Re: You people are funny

      People want cheap phones

      Cheap phones are 'cheap' and 'phones', google / android offering are expensive data gathering honeypots, they want you hooked and online as much as possible. It's why FB, instagranny, etc. are pre installed, it's the raison d'etra, phone is now secondary, only beneftting the Carrier Network, while all else benefits Carrier Network, manufacturer and Google in either your cash or your data.

      So painless and convenient, you don't even realise you are being milked, many even find it pleasurable

      You already pay for your phone on contract or outright otherwise, the main body of the android O.S is only partly Google funded, companies have just gotten used to having a customers pay bills <and</b> get customer usage data free like a regular bonus.

      I think it's the wrong people who are confused as to what they've been getting free for a long time....

  22. one crazy media

    No worries about US authorities doing anything to protect consumers. They are all looking to make millions by becoming lobbyists.

    The big will get bigger and run the world and the US will help them get there.

  23. Fihart

    A pity that EUcrats don't understand tech.

    Few years back EE sold a nice ZTE-made model that was popular with rooters -- the next generation of the model was re-engineered to try to stop all that.

    Granted, the EE phones were probably slightly subsidised at the time of purchase -- but EE recouped that from the vast majority of buyers.

    At least at the expiry of contract, a phone you bought should belong to you, be unlocked and open to uninstalling apps and installing whatever OS you want.

    In most industries the tech isn't advanced enough to allow makers to screw with your purchase, post-purchase. It's becoming clear that the same must be applied to the tech industries urgently before the tech evolves further and becomes more prevalent in our lives.

  24. GIRZiM
    Boffin

    Magisk

    'nuff said.

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