Bloatware is not a new topic of discussion. Computers have come with unwanted software from the manufacturer for decades, and it has always been annoying. For the most part, this software on computers has been easily uninstalled (with the exception of Norton trials). When it comes to mobile devices, however, the behavior can be very different. So much of the software that comes pre-installed on a phone or tablet is stuck there forever, whether you like it or not. That could be changing, care of the European Union.
When we think of mobile bloatware, most people immediately think of Android. Manufacturers install apps on the phones at the factory. Then, carriers install additional apps before hitting the store. The number of apps that are installed on a Samsung phone from AT&T, for example, is painful. But, Apple is also known for tons of pre-installed apps that you can't get rid of - except they are all from Apple. Almost every iPhone or iPad owner has a folder called Garbage (or something similar) where they hide all of Apple's bloatware.
The good news is that you are not the only one annoyed by this unacceptable behavior. The EU is working on passing a new law, called the Digital Services Act, that would require manufacturers to let users decide if the apps that are pre-installed in their mobile devices should stay. That would mean that Apple and Google devices would need to behave the way that Windows Phone worked - with everything but the core essentials being removable.
Some manufacturers began working on this when Google began requiring their apps to be bundled with Android devices. Apple has begun this process, with some of the bloatware apps, like Apple Music and Apple TV, now being removable. In addition, iOS 14 FINALLY allows users to set other apps as default browser and email clients. However, Apple has said that some of their apps could never be removed, but the collection is shrinking every year.
The real fight will come from manufacturers who get paid by app developers to include their apps and not allow them to be removed. These companies stand to lose money from contracts under this new law, but the user experience is the most important part. It is unlikely that the work done to allow these apps to be removed in the EU will not be duplicated outside of the EU, meaning that this could have positive global effects.