Android 14 could fix one of the worst things about buying a new phone

Android 14
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One of the worst things about buying a new phone is wrangling whatever apps the manufacturer has installed for you. Often it’s stuff you don’t want, and it’s rare to be able to completely erase them from your phone. Which means they can sit there taking up resources you’d rather allocate to other things. Android 14 may have a solution on the way.

Noted Android sleuth Mishaal Rahman has discovered that Android 14 has a feature specifically designed to combat pre-installed bloatware. It doesn’t let you erase the apps from your phone, which would be the ideal solution, but it looks like it will reduce the resources those apps take up — particularly memory and battery.

According to Rahman’s Patreon, Android 14 has the ability to “scan” system partitions when the phone boots up for the first time. If it detects an app with “exported launcher activity”, i.e. one that is launched from a home screen icon, Android will automatically put that app into a “STOPPED” state. That’ll only change once the user opens it for the first time.

Essentially this would block a pre-installed app from using any system resources until you decide you want to use it. That way apps like Facebook, TikTok or whatever else came with the phone won’t be using up things like system memory or battery life.

Rahman notes that this feature will apparently be enabled by default, but Android phone makers may be able to opt-out. That way they can add certain apps to an “allowlist” that prevents them from being blocked by the scan. Presumably this would include apps developed by the phone maker that offer exclusive features not available in Android proper. 

It also looks like Google will ensure its own apps — like Chrome, Play Store, YouTube and others — will be automatically on the allowlist no matter what.

While I would certainly prefer the option to completely remove bloatware from a new phone, denying them access to system resources is the next best thing. That way you should feel safe knowing that random apps you don’t want aren’t slowing down your system or draining your battery life in the background.

Combined with the upcoming Private Space feature, which lets you hide and separate certain apps from the rest of your phone, Andorid 14 is looking like a helpful upgrade. 

The only question is when will Google make this feature publicly available. It’s unclear, but it seems as though it’s already present within Android 14 — meaning all Google should need to do is flip a switch. And the sooner that happens, the better.

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Tom Pritchard
UK Phones Editor

Tom is the Tom's Guide's UK Phones Editor, tackling the latest smartphone news and vocally expressing his opinions about upcoming features or changes. It's long way from his days as editor of Gizmodo UK, when pretty much everything was on the table. He’s usually found trying to squeeze another giant Lego set onto the shelf, draining very large cups of coffee, or complaining about how terrible his Smart TV is.