If you’re using an Android device on the Sprint network, you may have noticed some apps appearing mysteriously on your phone. No, your phone is not filled with bored ghosts, downloading games to amuse themselves. Apparently, Sprint has brokered deals with some companies to have their apps preloaded — occasionally during firmware updates — onto Android phones. Even more annoying is that these apps cannot be deleted by the user.
CNet writer and Sprint customer Elinor Mills was able to get the skinny on the whole situation. A Sprint rep told her:
“Sprint does offer a variety of partner applications that are optimized for use on our wireless phones, […] From time to time, we will provide new apps to our customers in conjunction with a software maintenance release. Also, Sprint, in conjunction with Google, is taking steps to develop a technical solution that would allow customers to remove any unwanted applications that have been preloaded or pushed in an over-the-air software update.”
The pre-loaded apps include first-person shooter N.O.V.A., the blockbuster app, and some sports-related apps like NASCAR. Some of the unwanted apps, such as N.O.V.A., have broad access to user’s personal information. In their exchange with Mills, Sprint reps said that the apps do not automatically begin storing user data without being activated by the user, but some will operate in a “‘listener’ state” for better functionality. However, some commentors complain that pre-installed apps running in the background have greatly reduced the battery life of their phones.
Currently, the only way to kill off these unwanted apps is to unlock or “root” their phones. For once, I am happy to have suffered this long on AT&T.
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