messenger

Getting Rid of Preinstalled Apps on an HTC 10

This is really just a short blog to explain one of the most annoying things on my otherwise excellent HTC 10.

The phone comes with a number of preinstalled apps, whether you want them or not. That’s not unusual for Android phones. Aside from Google’s own devices, it’s as common as the crapware you get on too many new Windows PCs.

Unfortunately, just “leaving them alone” isn’t always a solution. I’m finding more frequently that apps are “spamming” the Android notification bar, urging me to use them when I’m not interested in them. It really feels quite invasive.

Specifically, Facebook insists that you use its Messenger app. I refuse to use it for a number of reasons – not least already having lots of chat/messaging apps. I don’t need another one. But Facebook is notably aggressive in trying to get users onto its Messenger app, having removed access to messages within its own app, and not allowing users to read messages on the mobile web. Today if someone sends me a message, I can only read it in a desktop environment. Messenger is preinstalled on HTC 10s, and it was persistently trying to get me to upgrade it.

Meanwhile News Republic is a news aggregator app. I’m not interested, and am not a subscriber. But it was there in the background, and more recently has started serving me notifications I’m not interested in. As with Messenger, I can’t uninstall it. All I could do is remove updates.

Finally, for now, there’s the TouchPal keyboard. It’s a pre-installed alternative keyboard that you can use. I don’t use it, nor the dozens of language variants that sit on my phone. Again, I was happy for it to be in the background until it recently started spamming me in the notification bar of my phone. I can’t uninstall it as with the others.

Without rooting the phone, I’m unable to fully get rid of these apps.

So my solution to all of this is to “disable” the apps.

Go to Settings > Apps

Find the app you want to shut down, and select it in the list. Then choose Disable to stop the app running.

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I believe that this will stop apps seeking updates, and most importantly sending spam to my notification bar.

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Note that I had to install TouchPal updates to get it to appear in the Apps list at all, allowing me to then disable it. I fear the language packs may keep updating.

It’s also worth noting that you can go into Notifications and choose to Block All notifications without necessarily disabling the app altogether. But I choose to go nuclear on these apps.

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An Open Letter to Facebook

Dear Facebook,

I just want you to be super clear that I am not installing your messaging app on my phone.

Ever.

I’m a moderate user of your service. I’ve got a fair few “friends” on the service, and I’m a member of a few groups.

Occasionally I use your messaging functionality. But I use it in an email sense. I’m not sending instant messages all day long to people. But I do use it to drop a message to a friend. I have chat firmly turned off.

For reasons best known to yourselves, you’ve been desperately trying to disagregate messaging from the main Facebook service – in particular on mobile.

You say it wasn’t an optimal experience. Probably true. You say that it works better in your separate app. Probably true. But you’re forcing me to install a new app, and I’ve got to tell you, I don’t like being forced into anything.

I don’t use the official Facebook app on my phone because it was annoying, and full of bloat over time. Even in these days of 32GB or larger phones, app size still becomes an issue for many users, with devices stuffed full of other apps, music and video. Then there are the creeping number of permissions you want to get from me.

For the past few years, I’ve used an app called Tinfoil for Facebook – mainly because it gives me a nice wrapper around the mobile site, without demanding too many permissions, and it let me carry on viewing messages on my Android phone even as the official app stopped allowing that.

But this mobile website access has now stopped. As reported in the press, you are now killing access to any messenger functionality from your mobile site. Not because it doesn’t work, but because you don’t want to me access messages that way.

Yet in my case, you are in effect saying to me that the only way I can now read messages on Facebook is via a desktop machine! That’s a bizarre situation to be in. Most people roll out functionality from the desktop version of their site to the mobile version. You’re removing it.

In the meantime Facebook Lite isn’t available to us in the UK, even though it’s a data-light option and includes the messaging functionality.

I imagine this is an example of Nudge theory – getting me to make a behavioural change. “Install Facebook Messenger. You know you want to! Life would be so much better…”

Well it’s not going to work.

I’m very suspicious of you Facebook. You offer me a free service, but then take liberties. You change privacy settings and don’t make them clear, changing what I’m opted in and out of regardless of my wishes. You tweak what is considered by you to be trending. And they’re just from recent weeks.

I’m not ready to close my account because it does serve a purpose.

But I don’t trust you as a company, and I don’t like the way some of your businesses operate. You need to work hard to regain my trust, and you’re not doing this.

As for installing your Messenger app, well of course, I effectively already have two other Facebook owned social apps on my phone – Instagram and WhatsApp – and I really don’t need a third or fourth.

So thanks but no thanks.

Instead, feel free to include the full message in the email notifications that you’ll still send me. And then I’ll wait patiently until such time as I’m back on a desktop device.

And that will probably mean in time, that I use your messaging service even less as a result.

So that’s a win for you then…

Kind regards,

Adam

UPDATE- Wow. It now seems that people who’ve used the Facebook app to sync their mobile photos to Facebook face having them deleted unless they also install the Moments app. Charming.