“App-ocalypse” Now

Published Jan 26, 2020 by Xiph

53 organisations are trying to end Android’s pre-installed mobile applications.

In 2014, Apple CEO Tim Cook became the most meme’d individual on the face of the universe. Why? Because his company decided that anyone and everyone who spent their hard-earned cash on a costly Mac device, deserved a “free”, “undeletable” copy of U2’s latest album. Suddenly, YouTube was littered with guides on “how to remove Bono from your iPhone”. This was a dark day for technology, culture, art, Ireland and the legacy of the late Steve Jobs.

Is your service full of bloatware?

Undaunted, Google has for years now, been doing the exact same injustice to Android users, on a deeper and more underhanded level. Instead of forcing them to listen topre-selected songs, Google is saddling us with “bloatware”: pre-installed, undeletable applications that just turn up on your phone and suck up all the screen real estate of your home screen, without going through the customary screening processes and mandatory security checks. They’re VIPs that ignore the obvious red-roped bollards, strut past the bouncer, head for the best spot and never leave the party.

You’re probably wondering: who cares? So, a few apps that I never use are on my phone permanently. Well, these shifty, underhanded, entitled applications are here to destroy your right to personal user privacy. The brunt of your devices’ bloatware operates “outside the Android Security model”. Which means that these appholes can bypass your consent and easily flag your location, control your microphone and yes, turn on your camera – while you remain none the wiser.

Poor form

The 53 organisations who have joined in furiousness to sign a letter of action to Google CEO Sundar Pichai, discovered that 91% of all these immovable appwipes aren’t even available on Google Play Store.

Through the mere purchasing of an budget Android device, you invite “the exploitative business practices of cheap smartphone manufacturers”. In other words, you want to retain a semblance of your privacy? Buy the most expensive Android phone on the market and hope for the best. Otherwise your bargain of a smartphone might reward you with a pair of apps with unremovable malware. Who would have thought that morally flexible smartphone manufacturers would target low-income communities? Genius.

The App-ocalypse Act

The new, proposed rules put forward by the brave signees in the pursuit of sticking a pushpin into Android’s bloatware are:

1. Android users should be able to delete their bloody apps!
2. Pre-installed apps should go through the same scrutiny as anything on Google Play Store, like – asking for your consent to turn on your camera?
3. Pre-installed apps should be legitimised by including an official update mechanism, preferably through the Google Play Store.

Whether or not you’re an Android user, you can head over to this site and begin the purge by signing this principled petition.

Or… you could just de-google

We’re not saying you shouldn’t sign your name, nor help those that support Google and will continue to support Google. Far from it. Anything that contributes to our right to privacy and security represents a destination in the vicinity of the right direction. But if the unnecessarily invasive practices as described in this piece make your blood boil, perhaps you should look into the growing rebellion against tech giants like Google. Feel free to explore how they are, both subtly and overtly finding new ways to manipulate who we are and who we are going to be – as individuals and as societies.

If you think this sounds overly dramatic, take some time to look into the concept of de-googling and the philosophies that drive it. New, ground-breaking technology is becoming available everyday – and it’s not ground-breaking because of an extra megapixel or a larger screen (though it also has all that stuff, if that’s your thing), but because it’s so heavily encrypted that no corporation, government or hacker can get anywhere near what BELONGS TO YOU.

Take a look at our range of de-googled phones and then take a look at how much more secure your information could be. We don’t personally manufacture them, though we do wholeheartedly endorse them. And one thing’s for sure – the creators would rather sit down to dinner and —component by component— eat an entire Samsung Galaxy View tablet (which are right now larger than the front door to your house) than pre-install a single undeletable application on a user’s smartphone.

Google’s winning millions of battles one device at a time and this App-ocalypse marks the start of the war.

Are you ready?

Posted in: Security

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