Sunday, January 29, 2012

Removing Bloatware from your Android

I finally did it!  I rooted the Droid 3 and ripped out all the nasty bloatware Verizon forced on me.  I feel quite liberated.  My battery life has doubled.  The device is faster and more reliable since it has more available RAM too.  I even removed all those locked bookmarks from the browser.

Here is how I did it:

1) Gain root access to the device.  There are several one-click root solutions out there now for most phones.  I used this one: http://www.psouza4.com/Droid3/

2) Rename the bloatware .APK and .ODEX files in the system/app directory on the device.  That is well documented here: http://www.androidcentral.com/removing-bloatware-your-motorola-droid-3 .  One thing I did a bit different was to use ES File Explorer to rename the files.  It is a free app on the Android Market and it support root access.  You can just navigate to the system/apps directory and rename the bloatware apps files by adding the .bak to the end.  This makes it an easily reversible process and you can choose what you keep.  In order to access the root with ES File Explorer, you need to enable it in the settings.  In ES File Explorer click the menu key, then scroll to the bottom where it has Root Settings.  Check both boxes ("root explorer" and "mount file system").

3) Remove the locked bookmarks from your browser.db file in the /data/data/com.android.browser/databases/ directory.  That process is explained here: http://androidforums.com/commando-all-things-root/408698-browser-removing-verizon-locked-bookmarks.html

Thanks to the world wide web we have rapid information sharing and collaboration to make things like this happen fast and then share it around the world.

Before the de-bloat I would have to plug in my phone at lunch time under normal usage.  Now I no longer both.  I can go 16 hours unplugged with normal usage and stay above 60%.  Many days I still have 70%.  I am using the Motorola extended battery (BF6X).  I installed the extended battery just after I got the device because I could not go 1/2 a day without plugging in.  It got really bad.  Something happened that caused the phone to chew up about 6GB of data that month.  I suspect it was the Verizon backup assistant.  I don't use that service after having a very bad experience with it messing up my contacts.  I did a factory reset of the device and my battery life and data usage improved.  Then a couple months later I had to do a factory reset again because my battery life was terrible again.  After the resets, the battery would improve.  Now that I have rooted and de-bloated, those issues appear to be behind me for good.

I didn't remove any of the Motorola Blur apps.  I actually like most of them.  The voice command is very good, much better than stock Android.  I also left My Verizon in there as I actually do find value in that.  ZumoCast is a very good app so I kept it as well.   All the VCast crap is gone though.  VZ Navigator is gone too.  NFL mobile is gone as is City ID.  I can remove any pre-installed software I want easily using ES File Explorer.

The facing camera in the Droid 3 has never been the most stable.  Skype and GTalk would sometimes just not initialize.  Now that camera does not work at all.  It tries to open but then fails to initialize.  I found a few others that have not rooted this device that have the same problem.  I have not yet found a solution but honestly I never used that camera anyway.  The main camera still works great.  Video IM is mostly a gimmick anyway and it does not work at all on 3G.

For now I am still running the stock ROM.  I will probably hold out until a stable build with Ice Cream Sandwich (Android 4) is available for this device.


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