Most people are content with burying pre-installed apps into a folder somewhere, but a Chinese agency has opted to sue smartphone makers for unwanted bloatware. The Shanghai Consumer Rights Protection Commission has taken Samsung and Oppo to task for just how much software comes preloaded on a brand new device, claiming to have been deluged by customer complaints that they’re not getting as much storage space as expected, and that background data use has been more voracious than expected.
One Samsung smartphone tested had 44 apps loaded out of the box, the Commission discovered in its testing, while an Oppo phone had 71 installed.
According to the consumer rights group, there have been multiple complaints that neither company makes clear on the box just what is already loaded onto the handsets. Meanwhile, instructions to actually uninstall unwanted software is also absent, something the Commission is demanding should change.
Some users have complained that apps like dictionaries, games, online shopping portals, and others are using data in the background, chewing through allowances and racking up larger monthly bills without the express knowledge of the owners themselves.
Preloaded software has become a contentious issue, favored by smartphone makers and carriers as a way to push services to the fore as well as make cash on the side by promoting certain software, but increasingly disliked by users wanting a “clean” device. Although often the apps themselves can be uninstalled manually, sometimes the software is so thoroughly baked into the operating system that it cannot be removed.
Oppo and Samsung have fifteen days to respond to the allegations, after which point the Shanghai court will set a date to hear the cases.
If the ruling is in the Commission’s favor, the group hopes for clearer information on packaging as well as more comprehensive instructions for app removal.
Neither company has commented publicly on the lawsuits, though we’d expect some argument along the lines that some of the apps deliver essential usability features above and beyond the core operating system.