When you buy a new device, you expect it to come in a pristine state and work perfectly. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. Devices can come with pre-installed bloatware that reduces performance and violates your privacy.
“Bloatware is software you don’t want that burdens and slows down your device,” says Daniel Markuson, a digital privacy expert at NordVPN. “These are programs that are preinstalled on new devices, come bundled with other downloads, or are injected into your system through malicious sites.”
According to NordVPN’s digital privacy expert, there are two main ways for bloatware (or Potentially Unwanted Programs – PUP) to reach you. It usually comes pre-installed by vendors, manufacturers or carriers. There can be a few reasons for this:
- Software developers pay providers to install their products on your device.
- Manufacturers provide the user with maintenance applications (e.g., Lenovo Solutions Centre) that also collect user data.
- Software or OS updates can push branded solution centers, trialware, or just random add-ons.
“I would like to stress out, that not all bloatware is bad,” says Markuson. “Some pre-installed media suites or control centers can be useful, and some are very easily removable.”
Another type of bloatware comes from the web. It can come from malicious websites or be downloaded together with programs you want from third-party webpages. It can also hide in software bundles. This bloatware is more dangerous as it often contains adware or malware.
Why bloatware is a threat
Markuson said: “Firstly, bloatware can significantly slow down your computer. If you have lots of these programs loading in your device start-up or performing operations in the background, they can eat up your RAM. Malware or adware presents more severe issues.”
Apart from showing pop-up ads while using your computer (even when you’re not online), it might also spy on you. Others programs might not be malicious but still accidentally leave you vulnerable. One of the more prominent examples is the Superfish program by Lenovo, which made users more susceptible to hacker attacks and spying.
How to remove bloatware
Bloatware is often the result of computer manufacturers or vendors wanting to cut costs and get additional revenue from software developers. However, the native programs could be removed either by regular uninstall or bloatware removers. You can also get bloatware-free PC, but be ready to pay more.
Windows PCs are most often affected by bloatware. However, this varies depending on the manufacturer. For example, Acer and Asus devices tend to contain less bloatware than Toshiba or Sony. Macs are less affected by bloatware than Windows PCs. However, you still might want to remove some of the unwanted apps that come pre-installed.
You can as well obtain some useful info from ShouldIRemoveIt. It uses crowdsourced data based on the actions of its users to present an extensive list of frequently removed programs. Be aware, that some of the programs are integral to the system and may cause problems after you remove them.
How to avoid bloatware
Prevention and avoidance is key, especially when it comes to bloatware that isn’t pre-installed. That’s better than working hard to remove it.
- Choose devices with less bloatware. Other download sources might include malware or adware. Also, avoid downloading software in bundles as these might contain bloatware.
- Download software from the original source. Do some research on the manufacturer and vendor when shopping for a device.
- Fight bloatware when you notice it. It stacks up until your OS becomes impossible to use or continue to gather your data. If you notice unwanted programs, remove them right away to keep your device safe and clean.
Tech promotes connections across groups in emerging markets
Digital technology users say they more regularly interact with people from diverse backgrounds
Smartphone users – especially those who use social media – say they are more regularly exposed to people who have different backgrounds. They are also more connected with friends they don’t see in person, a Pew Research Center survey of adults in 11 emerging economies finds.
South Africa, included in the study, has among the most consistent levels of connection across age groups and education levels and in terms of cross-cultural connections. This suggests both that smartphones have had a greater democratisation impact in South Africa, but also that the country is more geared to diversity than most others. Of 11 countries surveyed, it has the second-lowest spread between those using smartphones and those not using them in terms of exposure to other religious groups.
Across every country surveyed, those who use smartphones are more likely than those who use less sophisticated phones or no phones at all to regularly interact with people from different religious groups. In most countries, people with smartphones also tend to be more likely to interact regularly with people from different political parties, income levels and racial or ethnic backgrounds.
The Center’s new report is the third in a series exploring digital connectivity among populations in emerging economies based on nationally representative surveys of adults in Colombia, India, Jordan, Kenya, Lebanon, Mexico, the Philippines, Tunisia, South Africa, Venezuela and Vietnam. Earlier reports examined attitudes toward misinformation and mobile technology’s social impact.
The survey finds that smartphone and social media use are intertwined: A median of 91% of smartphone users in these countries also use social media or messaging apps, while a median of 81% of social media users say they own or share a smartphone. And, as with smartphone users, social media and messaging app users stand apart from non-users in how often they interact with people who are different from them. For example, 52% of Mexican social media users say they regularly interact with people of a different income level, compared with 28% of non-users.
These results do not show with certainty that smartphones or social media are the cause of people feeling like they have more diverse networks. For example, those who have resources to buy and maintain a smartphone are likely to differ in many key ways from those who don’t, and it could be that some combination of those differences drives this phenomenon. Still, statistical modelling indicates that smartphone and social media use are independent predictors of greater social network diversity when other factors such as age, education and sex are held constant.
Other key findings in the report include:
- Mobile phones and social media are broadening people’s social networks. More than half in most countries say they see in person only about half or fewer of the people they call or text. Mobile phones are also allowing many to stay in touch with people who live far away: A median of 93% of mobile phone users across the 11 countries surveyed say their phones have mostly helped them keep in touch with those who are far-flung. When it comes to social media, large shares report relationships with “friends” online who are distinct from those they see in person. A median of 46% of Facebook users across the 11 countries report seeing few or none of their Facebook friends in person regularly, compared with a median of 31% of Facebook users who often see most or all of their Facebook friends in person.
- Social activities and information seeking on subjects like health and education top the list of mobile activities. The survey asked mobile phone users about 10 different activities they might do on their mobile phones – activities that are social, information-seeking or commercial in nature. Among the most commonly reported activities are casual, social activities. For example, a median of 82% of mobile phone users in the 11 countries surveyed say they used their phone over the past year to send text messages and a median of 69% of users say they took pictures or videos. Many mobile phone users are also using their phones to find new information. For example, a median of 61% of mobile phone users say they used their phones over the past year to look up information about health and medicine for themselves or their families. This is more than the proportion that reports using their phones to get news and information about politics (median of 47%) or to look up information about government services (37%). Additionally, around half or more of mobile phone users in nearly all countries report having used their phones over the past 12 months to learn something important for work or school.
- Digital divides emerge in the new mobile-social environment. People with smartphones and social media – as well as younger people, those with higher levels of education, and men – are in some ways reaping more benefits than others, potentially contributing to digital divides.
- People with smartphones are much more likely to engage in activities on their phones than people with less sophisticated devices – even if the activity itself is quite simple. For example, people with smartphones are more likely than those with feature or basic phones to send text messages in each of the 11 countries surveyed, even though the activity is technically feasible from all mobile phones. Those who have smartphones are also much more likely to look up information for their households, including about health and government services.
- There are also major differences in mobile usage by age and education level in how their devices are – or are not – broadening their horizons. Younger people are more likely to use their phones for nearly all activities asked about, whether those activities are social, information-seeking or commercial. Phone users with higher levels of education are also more likely to do most activities on their phones and to interact with those who are different from them regularly than those with lower levels of education.
- Gender, too, plays a role in what people do with their devices and how they are exposed to different people and information. Men are more likely than women to say they encounter people who are different from them, whether in terms of race, politics, religion or income. And men tend to be more likely to look up information about government services and to obtain political news and information.
These findings are drawn from a Pew Research Center survey conducted among 28,122 adults in 11 countries from Sept. 7 to Dec. 7, 2018. In addition to the survey, the Center conducted focus groups with participants in Kenya, Mexico, the Philippines and Tunisia in March 2018, and their comments are included throughout the report.
Nokia to be first with Android 10
Nokia is likely to be the first smartphone brand to roll out Android 10, after its manufacturer, HMD Global, announced that the Android 10 software upgrade would start in the fourth quarter of 2019.
Previously named Android Q, it was given the number after Google announced it was ditching sweet and dessert names due to confusion in different languages. Android 10 is due for release at the end of the year.
Juho Sarvikas, chief product officer of HMD Global said: “With a proven track record in delivering software updates fast, Nokia smartphones were the first whole portfolio to benefit from a 2-letter upgrade from Android Nougat to Android Oreo and then Android Pie. We were the fastest manufacturer to upgrade from Android Oreo to Android Pie across the range.
“With today’s roll out plan we look set to do it even faster for Android Pie to Android 10 upgrades. We are the only manufacturer 100% committed to having the latest Android across the entire portfolio.”
HMD Global has given a guarantee that Nokia smartphone owners benefit from two years of OS upgrades and 3 years of security updates.