Maybe I've just been living in a Sprint/HTC EVO bubble for a little too long, but one of the first things I noticed after unboxing and charging my HTC One S yesterday was the massive amount of bloat that T-Mobile has added to an otherwise awesome device.
Here are the apps I'm talking about:
- 411 & More: This app is essentially a 411 shortcut, although it also conveniently warns you that "Premium charges will apply."
- Access T-Mobile: Basically, this is a revamped "My Account" app, which gives users mobile access to their T-Mobile accounts. (OK, maybe this one is a little useful.)
- Game Base by T-Mobile: This app lists all the games that T-Mobile wants you to buy.
- More for Me: This app works like Groupon, and aggregates similar local deals for you. It seems to have trouble getting your location, though, as the first several times I opened it, I had no local deals available. Now I have a ton.
- Music Hub: This is T-Mobile's one stop music solution, offering streaming music through Slacker or TuneIn Radio, MP3 downloads, access to T-Mobile Caller Tunes, and Shazam.
- T-Mobile Mall: Another place to buy apps, games, or music from T-Mobile.
- T-Mobile Name ID: T-Mobile's premium caller ID service, which costs $3.99/month.
- T-Mobile TV: Free streaming TV includes ABC News, Fox Sports, and PBS Kids. If you want the good stuff (ESPN, NBC, ABC, MTV, etc.), you'll have to pay $12.99/month.
- T-Mobile Visual Voicemail: Great for a lot of people, but I really wish carriers would just move to Google Voice already. With Google's sometimes accurate and oftentimes hilarious voicemail transcription, it's just a much better service.
This is not to mention all the other "helpful" apps that T-Mobile and/or HTC decided to preinstall on the device, making them impossible to uninstall in the process:
- Dropbox (all right, 25GB for free is pretty sweet…)
- Play Movies (this app won't work if you decide to root your phone, but at least then you'll be able to delete it!)
- Slacker Radio
- Where's My Water
And of course, we have HTC's default apps that come preinstalled on all HTC Sense devices:
- Car (completely redesigned from previous versions of Sense, and it's pretty nice)
- FM Radio
- Gallery (HTC's version, not Google's)
- Music (this time, it finally integrates with Google Play Music, so it's not all bad)
- Notes (similar to what we first saw on the HTC EVO View 4G or HTC Flyer, although the HTC Scribe stylus isn't compatible)
- Polaris Office
- Tasks (this one is new to me: it integrates with Google Tasks)
Now here's the good news: even though all of these apps come preinstalled, and you might only find half of them useful, there's a new way to remove them without necessarily rooting and deleting. Included in most (or all) Android 4.0 devices, there's a new option to disable system apps.
To do this, just go to Settings > Apps > All, and select the app you want to disable. Ignore the warning message you get about other apps "misbehaving," and select OK. Once you do this, it's all but gone from your phone: it will disappear from the app tray, and will act like it no longer exists. But in case you ever want to get it back, just go back to the apps list, and it will be there waiting for you.
So, in short, while I'm very disappointed that such a great phone comes with so much bloat, I'm also very happy that it's so easy to remove without rooting the device and potentially breaking the warranty. While some people may find value in a few of these extras, the vast majority of users view them as just an annoyance; maybe one day the carriers will learn.