back to article Vodafone UK rocks the bloat with demands for vanilla Android

Vodafone UK wants to sell Android phones which are as close to stock (as Google intended) as possible, and the red company's favourite device for this is the Moto G. Writing on the Vodafone company blog, Motorola senior marketing director Marcus Frost unsurprisingly extoled the virtues of the new phone – but he's not just …

  1. casaloco

    I imagine...

    I imagine it is to save cost as they don't have to manage their own security updates etc, they can just use the stock updates verbatim.

    1. malle-herbert
      Facepalm

      Re: I imagine...

      Yeah, but if you can easily update your phone to the newest software version available then why buy a new phone ?

      The only reason to upgrade to a new phone would be for it's hardware features...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I imagine...

        Because it's shiny.

        1. Khaptain Silver badge

          Re: I imagine...

          because it's faster and has a thousand newer/more better/shinier functions and it's capable of making me look like a rock star and, and, and because Dave will be jealous.....

          Alternatively, it's because we like to have new things....all the time, in any event after only a week or so we don't even see the OS/telephone anymore, we adapt and become accustomed to the "new" very, very quickly, the illness is more commonly known as "consumerism"...

        2. I Like Heckling

          Re: I imagine...

          A phone is a tool... people who buy phones because it's new and shiny... are tools. :)

          1. Salts

            Re: I imagine...

            Unless of course it is "new, shiny and has the utility you need" otherwise I agree:)

            1. Seanie Ryan
              Linux

              Re: I imagine...

              i recently had a conversation about this. My point was that it was only a matter of time that some class action is taken against the networks for not providing regular software updates which ended up with a hack; large bill; data loss; exposure of sensitive info.

              Especially in light of the recent multiple flaws discovered in Android.

              So to cover their shiny metal ass on that front, operators have to pass the buck back to the manufacturer. Apple and MS already cover this aspect.

              But if Operators customise Android with UI and other tweaks, then they become potentially liable (?)

              So if its stock Android, does the responsibility pass back up to Google?

              And before someone posts about being able to update any phone, my point is about providing EASY OTA updates, that any idiot can click "install".

              So the question for anyone with better knowledge, where does the buck stop? Would this be the reason for Voda wanting to provide stock Android?

  2. Vimes

    And the bloat added by operators themselves? Presumably Vodafone plays these sorts of games too, so will they be doing anything about that?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Did you actually read the article? At all?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Did you actually read the article? At all?

        Evidently not. But since when has that stopped anybody round here jumping in with both feet?

      2. auburnman

        To be fair to the boy, I read the article twice and I'm struggling to believe it. A Network Operator not bundling shiteware? Call me when the other shoe drops.

        Next they'll be saying they want to ship phones unlocked to any carrier...

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Next they'll be saying they want to ship phones unlocked to any carrier...

          My last three Voda handsets have all been unlocked, although whether that's just because they came through resellers I can't say.

          1. Khaptain Silver badge

            I

            Here in Switzerland ,no one locks or adds any bloat, it feels like paradise....

            In France, Orange at least have severely cut down the bloat to removable apps, the phones are free to unlock after

            6 months, which is fine. We are almost on Vanilla android except for the little Orange logo during the boot phase, which I really don't see very often. Things are getting better with every new generation.

            Not sure about Sfr ( Vodafone).

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re:Khaptain

              Sfr is no longer anything to do with Vodafone, they (VF) sold there Sfr share a few years ago.

          2. jonathanb Silver badge

            If you bought them at Carphone Warehouse, they will be unlocked. I believe Phones4U was the same, but they aren't around any more.

  3. Drat

    And quicker updates

    Typically there is much much more of interest in the latest vanilla Android updates then there is in the device specific modified Androids. Therefore it is a much better consumer proposition to be able to offer faster updates to the latest Android version than it is to offer some unique feature. This is one reason I have preferred a Nexus to a Samsung. I hope in the future my device choice is widened (fingers crossed)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: And quicker updates

      Indeed.

      I'd rather like vanilla droid to be the standard, rather than a flagship exception perk.

      How about the Nexus differentiating on other elements more heavily than fat-free Android? I loved my Nexus but it did seem odd to me, after a while, that 'no cruft' was actually a sales point. Sort of sad that minimalism had in itself become so rare that it became one the most attractive things about the Nexus.

      Different horses and all that, but having developed an allergy to skins, I now always go with the most un-tampered and Nexus excepted, Motorola seem to be doing OK at that right now.

      1. Khaptain Silver badge

        Re: And quicker updates

        Samsung still has a long way to go. Although on saying that I don't mind Samsungs overlay.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: And quicker updates

          Some stuff is understandable or required mind. Say for example the pen in the note, or the windowed cover screen.

          Such additions I use every day, and would hate to try to use the phone with a vanilla OS, where I'd have to just make do with a normal non-tracking pen, or have to unlock the phone every time I want to check something.

          Perhaps a good midway is to make all these features available as "apps" from the store, and not as integrated into the os?

  4. twilkins

    This is hilarious - as a Vodafone customer for over 10 years I have suffered from numerous handsets weighed down with Vodafone's junk. I now buy SIM free handsets largely for this reason.

    1. fruitoftheloon
      Thumb Up

      @Twilkins - yup, me too...

      Twilkins,

      indeed my EE-locked Note 2 is about to be replaced with a Blackberry Passport via CPW, on o2 (as tthere is at least some signal here in the sticks...)

      Cheers,

      jay

      1. Argh

        Re: @Twilkins - yup, me too...

        I'd really like to unlock my EE S5 to get the latest unbranded ROMs, but as I have a terrible EE signal in the house, I need the EE Wifi calling functionality which isn't available on the unbranded phones.

        Unrelated to the article, but on the topic of Wifi calling, it would have been nice if the phone stopped trying to use the radio when Wifi calling is available, as the low signal while at home still destroys the battery life due to the radio working at full power.

        1. Magnus Ramage

          Re: @Twilkins - yup, me too...

          Aren't there WiFi calling apps more readily available from other carriers? Certainly the Three one is downloadable from Google Play, and I imagine this would be the case for other networks also.

          1. phil dude
            Thumb Up

            Re: @Twilkins - yup, me too...

            RedPhone. Check out F-Droid the FOSS apps for Android...

            P.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: @Twilkins - yup, me too...

              Redphone isn't on fdroid. This may also prove interesting if you're thinking like that:

              https://guardianproject.info/apps

              ...and also for those apps that are only on Google Play here's a downloader that doesn't need a Google account:

              http://apps.evozi.com/apk-downloader/

              ...of course, you'll have to manually check and install updates, as well as ticking the side-load box while installing; but if you want to minimise Google exposure wile still having the toys then this is a good way round it. Check the hashes of the file you download, obviously.

              1. phil dude
                Facepalm

                Re: @Twilkins - yup, me too...

                @moiety: Ah yes, sorry you're right. F-droid is however *highly* recommended!!

                P.

          2. jonathanb Silver badge

            Re: @Twilkins - yup, me too...

            O2 has TuGo. One of the benefits of that one is you can use it over wifi abroad and pay as if you were in the UK.

          3. 080

            Re: @Twilkins - yup, me too...

            O2 TuGo or BT SmartTalk which also work abroad.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: @Twilkins - yup, me too...

          Try "Tasker", you can set up rules to do pretty much anything automatically that you can do manually.

          e.g. switch off the radio when wifi is connected. For some of the things you might need to root your phone though (particularly on Lollipop which seems to have locked down a lot more things).

      2. Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

        Re: @Twilkins - yup, me too...

        Black, Red or Silver?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: @Twilkins - yup, me too...

          Alternative for silver:

          http://www.thelightphone.com/

          ...except it's easily lost.

        2. fruitoftheloon
          Thumb Up

          @AndrewO Re: @Twilkins - yup, me too...

          Andrew,

          Black, by far the most amazing bit of kit I have EVER used.

          So far (~2 hours), I have barely scratched the surface of what it can do; there are (as you prob. know) an amazing amount of features that help you to 'get sh1t done'.

          Android looks like a relic already.

          Particularly on installing evernote/(anti)social network apps and having the option to deny a capability that an app would like, but imho it doesn't NEED!!!

          I have already convinced a good friend to get one when her contract Samsung 'glass oblong' is up for renewal shortly...

          Cheers,

          Jay.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I am on Vodafone, no bloat, but it was a Carphone Warehouse purchase, so might be an unlocked phone with their sim.

      Previous experience with Vodafone, back in the day, was they took the good OSs off, and put some rubbish, low res and broken excuse in it's place.

  5. kmac499

    Bloat Removal

    I don't really care how much bloat the manufacturer, network provider etc add, as long as I can truly delete the frigging stuff (Samsung has to be the biggest offender here.)

    BTW Microsoft are you listening this goes for you too

    1. Test Man

      Re: Bloat Removal

      "BTW Microsoft are you listening this goes for you too" Signature Edition?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Bloat Removal

      MS, yeah, we're listening real hard (and we don't give a flying monkey's...)

      Respectfully, always "yours"

      MS

  6. Oliver 7

    The circle of life?

    So have we come full circle, where the operators are finally realising that locked, bloated, branded handsets with a customised OS and uninstallable apps chewing up storage space actually really, really piss some people off? That differentiation can be achieved by simply selling phones with stock Android installed? That money can be saved and updates made quicker and more cheaply?

    I'll believe it when I see it. As it stands we still have the manufacturer overlays, no word about locked handsets and I'll bet they aren't talking about those unwelcome apps whose smelly faces you are only reminded of when you open your app drawer (I'm guessing someone pays them to put them on?). But it's progress...

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Other manufacturers add bloatware

    we have stopped, after 10 years. Hurrah for vodafone.

    p.s. my wife says thanks for that cheapo voda mobile she bought 12 years ago, great mp3 player! Other than that, you can (...) and die.

  8. Bob Vistakin
    Holmes

    Every cloud has a silver lining

    "Or it could be because having gone from 100,000 people to fewer than 8,000 staff, Moto doesn’t have any programmers left."

    Correct.

  9. Lamont Cranston

    Better late than never, I suppose.

    Can someone please make sure that PC manufacturers/vendors get the memo, too?

    1. Electron Shepherd

      Re: Better late than never, I suppose.

      You can get bloatware-free PCs now - they just cost more, since the OEM loses the kickback from Symantec etc.

  10. I Like Heckling

    Bloatware is a curse

    It needs to be eradicated as much as possible... I am a Moto G 2nd Gen owner and aside from a couple of motorola specific apps (which I believe can be uninstalled) it's very close to pure android... and for a quarter of the price of a Nexus.... I paid £126 for mine from Amazon. I prefer to be on a sim only deal as it's far better value for money and I'm never tied into a contract.

    The worst offenders are Samsung and HTC who build at least a dozen or more apps into the build which cannot be uninstalled. HTC for example have Farcebook and Twiter apps, then on top of that their Sense apps for both... Effectively forcing you to have 4 apps for 2 things.

    I am fully in agreement with any mobile operator that attempts to eradicate bloatware... even if it's because they're tried it, found it didn't work and are still getting grief from their customers about it because manufacturers are still ramming it down your throats.

    It's one of the areas that google went wrong with Android, allowing it to be butchered by anyone... I understand the reasoning behind it... it gave them dominant market share. Time to reel things in a little I think.

    The recent stagefright bug and the newer security issues being found only serve to highlight to users/customers that they need better updates more frequently for at least 3yrs after a device is released.

  11. Tom 38 Silver badge

    Its all to do with risk

    This announcement has nothing to do with what consumers want, even if they are coincidentally aligned. This is about avoiding the finger of blame in the eventual outcome that someone's unpatched operator branded OS has a huge security hole in it that they have ignored despite Google releasing patches.

    By pushing their handsets to be stock android, and not making any operator modifications, anything that goes wrong they can simply say "Not me guv" and point at HTC.

  12. Graham Marsden
    Meh

    How long before other companies...

    ... start offering a bloatware free option...

    ... which is twice the price of the bloated version?!

  13. Mike Bell

    If I had an Android phone – which I don't – I'd be quite pleased about this, because my phone would have a fighting chance of keeping abreast of security updates.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Trollface

    Landfill operators won't be happy about this.

  15. Stumpy Pepys

    To cut manufacturers some slack

    Android, although perfectly usable, didn't have a particularly nice UI until version 4.

    Things like HTC Sense were actually an improvement; I remember rooting my old HTC Desire and installing stock 2.3 on it, only to realize how fugly it was. I then stuck another Sense ROM on it.

    However, Android 5 is rather nice in my opinion and manufacturer customizations now degrade the experience, allied to the security issues.

  16. roblightbody

    About time!

    I used to have Vodafone Sony Ericsson "candy bar" phones (such as a K750i) which were absolutely ruined by the Vodafone firmware - including changing what buttons and shortcut keys did, making all the icons red (so it was hard to see what was what). It was really terrible. Flashing it to the standard Sony Ericsson firmware was slightly tricky, but was well worth it as the bog standard phone was far nicer to use.

    Ten years later, I use Nexus phones for the same reason, after suffering Samsung phones which ruin Android.

  17. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

    I find this somewhat hard to swallow

    Given that pretty much every phone I've had from voda has has their bundled crapware on it, from the old Sony Ericsson I had years ago with all the icons replaced with horrible colour-clashy vodafone ones to the HTC One M8 I have at the moment, which I can put a custom ROM onto if I want (thanks to HTC allowing this), but can't get rid of the horrible voda logo on start-up and shut-down. And don't start me on all the voda branded apps which I had to go through and disable one-by-one, because they cannot be uninstalled.

    The cynic in me thinks that they want 'vanilla' phones so they can have absolute control over the shitware that they stuff on there, without the option of having the manufacturer's software instead.

  18. David 155

    Whats the problem?

    I dont see why Google cant just send out updates directly to Android devices? Microsoft dont have to send their updates via hardware manufacturers.

    1. dajames Silver badge

      Re: Whats the problem?

      Microsoft dont have to send their updates via hardware manufacturers.

      That's because OEMs selling Windows machines don't customize the core components of Windows.

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