Bloatware on Android phones is quite an old news, having been around for so many years. Particularly common in brands like Samsung, Huawei and most other cheaper, budget phone brands. One Android brand, however, that had kept itself away from bloatware apps has now come in the spotlight for its latest involvement into bloatware apps, and that is none other than OnePlus. The popular mobile smartphone brand has managed to draw the ire of its OnePlus fan community for the recent news. And the OxygenOS bloatware of OnePlus in this case is from one widely popular and used social media platform company- Facebook!
Owners of the OnePlus 8 series and the newly launched OnePlus Nord, both of which made it to the markets this year, have to deal with a few number of Facebook owned mobile apps. The fact that had slipped under the radar, came to light when Max Weinbach of XDA tweeted screenshots of his Instagram app being updated, instead of the usual Play Store, through the Facebook App Manager. A number of other people on the Reddit community platform were quick to point out that this had been a case for a while now. The fact that so many people have overlooked this may have been, in part, due to the wide popularity and acceptability of apps such as Facebook and Instagram.
In a confirmation with OnePlus, they had accepted the fact that all the current 3 models- OnePlus 8, 8 Pro and Nord, each of them includes the Facebook App Installer, Facebook App Manager and Facebook Services as a part of the system applications. The main Facebook app, Messenger, and Instagram apps along with Netflix are also present. In another response by OnePlus, they reasoned that these applications help improve battery efficiency on Facebook and enhance HDR playback on Netflix. But how much of this is true is questionable.
As reported by Max Weinbach, updates on those apps are most likely to come through Facebook based services in the mobile rather than the Google Play Store. These system services have also been spotted eating up small bits of data in the background. What makes it more worrisome is that this is coupled with the fact that users have no way of learning what data is being sent back to Facebook and there has been no clarification or any communication from Facebook regarding this matter.
On the positive side, note that Facebook, Messenger, Instagram and other Facebook-owned apps can be uninstalled by users, if not needed. However, the background services- Facebook App Installer, Facebook App Manager and Facebook Services can’t really be removed, only left disabled. OnePlus has even confirmed their intention to continue this frowned upon practice for the future launches and in the years to come for launches and releases in the North America, Europe and India markets.
What do you think about this practice? Is it not much of an issue since the apps in question are anyway regularly used by users worldwide or is the fact that user information being sent back to Facebook without the users’ knowledge pointing to some other shady practice in the background?