A long-running annoyance with Android smartphones is pre-installed bloatware from carriers and device manufacturers. Not only does the bloat suck, but carrier apps can be a privacy risk and removing them can be quite difficult.
Well, that last point might change with Android 14. The first developer preview for Google’s upcoming mobile operating system update is out now. A notable new feature uncovered in the preview will show which apps were installed by carriers/device manufacturers that users can safely remove.
Mishaal Rahman, who regularly uncovers work-in-progress Android features and details them on Twitter, wrote about the new bloatware tool for XDA Developers. Rahman noted that the feature is currently hidden in Android 14 DP1 — users need to enable a developer flag and access a special version of the Settings app dubbed ‘Spa,’ which is also hidden behind a separate flag.
The new menu, dubbed ‘Apps installed in the background,’ appears in the ‘Apps’ section and includes the following description:
“Your device manufacturer may install apps on your device in the background, or allow your carrier and other partners to do so.
“Any apps listed here aren’t required for your device to function normally. You can uninstall apps you don’t want.”
Below that is space for a list of apps, though in the example photos shared by Rahman, there weren’t any apps listed.
Rahman goes on to explain that a new system service called “Background Install Control” powers the new menu. Under the hood, it looks like the feature doesn’t capture apps installed through ADB or by other apps running in the foreground. That makes sense, since installations through ADB require manual effort. Foreground apps, on the other hand, would count things like the Play Store.
Instead, the feature will likely work best for, as an example, apps installed after you insert a carrier’s SIM card. Which, frankly, is exactly what’s needed — I’m tired of uninstalling 20 apps whenever I set up a new phone to review.