Smartphones

The problem with Android updates: Playing the blame game

How many times have you heard, you must keep software up to date -- no exceptions. It seems someone forgot to tell Google, cell phone OEMs, and mobile telco providers.

Ask any IT-security pundit: what is the most important thing we as users can do ensure our safety while traversing the Internet? Together now... "Keep software up to date.

I have asked, and most people agree. I'd even say we've drunk the Kool-Aid, actively updating software when needed. Why then, are devices using Android operating systems not up to date (chart, courtesy of Android Developers)?

Over 50 percent of Android phones are two major revisions behind. To get an idea of how many that is, Google predicts the number of Android activations will reach one billion by November 2013. (chart, courtesy of Asymco).

That means over 500,000,000 phones using an Android operating system will not be up to date.

Finger pointing

Opinions as to the reason why Android is so far behind are abundant, and borderline accusatory. The latest bout erupted this summer. Randall Stephenson, AT&T's CEO started the fray by blaming Google. Seth Weintraub captured Stephenson's comments from this video -- specifically a member of the audience asking Stephenson why phones are slow to get the latest versions of Android. Stephenson's response:

Google determines what platform gets the newest releases and when. A lot of times, that's a negotiated arrangement, and that's something we work at hard. We know that's important to our customers. That's kind of an ambiguous answer because I can't give you a direct answer in this setting.

In the same blog, Weintraub included Google's response:

Mr. Stephenson's carefully worded quote caught our attention and frankly we don't understand what he is referring to. Google does not have any agreements in place that require a negotiation before a handset launches.

Google has always made the latest release of Android available as open source at source.android.com as soon as the first device based on it has launched. This way we know the software runs error-free on hardware that has been accepted and approved by manufacturers, operators and regulatory agencies such as the FCC. We then release it to the world.

Up next is Paul Lilly, and his post for ExtremeTech is titled, "Is there anything Google can do to solve the problem of slow Android updates?" Lilly wades through several potential reasons why updates aren't happening, but:

There aren't any winners when playing the blame game, and if Google's going to solve the problem, it has to figure out if a solution even exists, and whether or not it cares to implement it.

Further in the post, Lilly suggests a possible solution that was mentioned in an earlier ExtremeTech post -- charge users for Android updates. Their logic is it should motivate the OEMs and mobile-telco providers to roll out updates. What do you think? Does the idea have a chance? Lilly mentioned something else that's worth noting:

Apple doesn't have this problem because it builds its own hardware, and neither does Microsoft, which requires Windows Phone makers to follow a specific hardware blueprint.

So there we have it, millions of Android-based phones in service, half of which are using an outdated operating system and no remedy in sight.

Selective updating?

A recent situation provided evidence that updating Android OSs in a reasonable timeframe is possible. I must say I was surprised. What are these historic circumstances?

It started with Ravishankar Borgaonkar, a security researcher at Technical University-Berlin, discovering a new Android exploit with potential to cause financial pain -- more on this later. Hindsight shows his presentation, "Dirty use of USSD Codes in Cellular Networks," started the gears of change turning. I contacted Ravi and asked him to explain:

"I discovered a vulnerability that allows an attacker to execute USSD codes automatically without any user permission/interaction. This happens due to:

  • Android dialer fails to differentiate between a phone number and USSD code.
  • Important USSD codes can be executed without need of pressing the green dial button.

The affected Android versions are 2.3.x (potentially earlier versions before 2.3.x too), 3.x (Honeycomb), 4.0.x (Ice Cream Sandwich), and 4.1.x (Jelly Bean). Ravi also mentioned all Android devices running the mentioned versions are affected.

Paul Ducklin wrote an excellent blog of how the exploit works for Sophos Naked Security: "Are Android phones facing a remote-wipe hacking pandemic?" He also mentioned that Dylan Reeves created a website that allows you to check your phone.

http://dylanreeve.com/phone.php

There seems to be some confusion as to what malicious deeds are possible by exploiting the vulnerability. The two most serious ones I've read about are:

  • Killing the SIM card permanently.
  • Resetting the phone to factory condition.

I hope you'll forgive me, that's all the further I want to go on the exploit. Others more knowledgeable, like Paul, have already provided the details. Besides, I have something else on my mind.

I've had three Android phones now. Why? It was the only way for me to get the latest version of Android -- without jail-breaking. When I purchased the new SIII (version 4.0), my beloved Infuse was still on version 2.3. Why, I don't know.

I tested each phone for Ravi's exploit, and both were vulnerable -- no surprise. The surprise came later that day; tech media outlets were mentioning Samsung already had a fix available and AT&T (my provider) had it ready to download. Right. I have to see this.

Sure enough, there's an 80-plus meg Over-the-Air download.

Quick note: Unknown to me, my security app Lookout shut down after the update installed and mandatory restart. The only way I knew this was an email from Lookout wondering why I disabled their app. I quickly reentered my login info and Lookout was back up. I have mentioned this to the folks at Lookout, and they are checking into it.

If it's that easy

I struggled for a few days, trying to understand the rationale behind when and how Android devices get updated. I decided to ask William Francis, my Android investigative partner, and fellow TechRepublic writer for his thoughts about the speedy update. Here's what he had to say:

I think the fact that this patch got to users so quickly points out the short comings of the Android software distribution model. Ultimately, it is the phone manufacturers who run the show. And they are motivated solely by the prospect of selling more devices.

When Google comes out with a security patch, it is easy and advantageous for a phone manufacturer to say "it wasn't our fault". But hey if you want to get the latest version of Android why not just buy our latest phone. In this case, the issue was not only on the latest phone, but also all the blame was Samsung's.

If they did not push out a fix fast they would be liable to refund customer purchases, or allow them to select a new model phone that did not have this issue. Interestingly enough, I believe the carrier has to sign off on the update too. It goes to show that the phone manufacturers have way more pull with the carriers than Google, the creators of the operating system itself. But again it is all about the bottom line and money is directly exchanged between the carrier and the manufacturer while this is not the case with Google and the carrier -- at least to my knowledge.

Final thoughts

Smartphone sales eclipsed PCs in 2011. If I know that, the bad guys surely know it as well. Using history as a guide, it’s easy to see where they’re going to focus their effort. If “must keep software up to date” is true, we had better make it so.

I’d like to thank Ravi Borgaonkar for making sure we were aware of this. And others like Dylan Reeve and Paul Ducklin for helping to get the word out.

About

Information is my field...Writing is my passion...Coupling the two is my mission.

52 comments
brian.smith
brian.smith

Parts that are designed to wear out have to be purchased, they are not replaced free of charge when they do. Additionally, if a car maker introduced a better windscreen wiper system then to get it, you'd need to buy it or replace your car. I think these forums only work ie move the debate forward, when people stick to the issue and make logical points.

brian.smith
brian.smith

I don't see how keeping a phone up to date is anybody's responsibility other than the purchaser's. I can't think of any other field of commerce where this obligation is forced on manufacturers or suppliers. An obvious example is the car industry where moving models on either through facelifting or a whole new design is standard and fundamental to the way the industry sells its product. It seems a very simple step for Google or some industry body to arrange a system where for the cost of a text message, you get your phone updated. With a billion phones in service, that’s a lot of texts and a lot of money for someone. Job done. Simples.

Y2jHotaru
Y2jHotaru

I discovered I wasn't affected. In addition, I discovered that when I entered to the web page with Dolphin a popup opened asking me to select if I wanted to complete the action with Phone or with Avast phone number validator. First time I selected Phone and the code just got paste in dialer. No problem. Second time I selected Avast option and It warned me that the page was trying to use an USSD code. So I was happy with both results. Then, I think that if there is vulnerable devices, a good approach while this eternal update talk end someday with a good end, is using an antivirus in the phone. I have Avast, but I'm not sure if the other apps have the same capability in this specific case. Time to test!!. Edit: I did the test in a Xperia Arc with ICS 4.0.3. Then I did the same test on a Galaxy ACE with GB 2.3.4 and Boom!! the vulnerability Arised. So I advised my friend to install AV App and select the AV App as default Action.

coffeeshop
coffeeshop

There's one concept which wasn't really addressed: OEM's and carriers are implying that if you want the latest version of Android, just buy a newer phone. Many OS's are backward-compatible to a degree, so the argument for testing older hardware with a new OS doesn't hold much water in this regard. This is just a strategy by manufacturers and carriers to boost sales, and it's not necessarily devious, but at some point the consumers will vote with their money as always. It's the reason I'm sticking with iOS for now; because of the issue with updating. Just as Android is a viable alternative to iOS, we will see more and more of people going with the cheapest phone with the most features and the most recent version of OS available. OEM's, carriers and Google need to work together and keep the updates consistent, or they risk losing the market share they've worked so hard to gain.

T3CHN0M4NC3R
T3CHN0M4NC3R

With so many jailbreaking their iPhones to fix what Apple didn't or didn't allow, I don't see why we shouldn't do the same to Android devices. It's not that hard to do it anyway.

eaglewolf
eaglewolf

I'd like to see a 'security update only' option. I dread the o/s updates since there seems to be more of an emphasis on adding new, bundled, bloated apps that only benefit ($) a vendor and carrier, not the user. You have no option to refuse them and no option to remove them once installed. And I have yet to have the forced install of an 'upgrade' not play havoc with my phone. Apps stop working .. apps are now overloaded with advertising they didn't have before .. format changes .. useful o/s functions disappear (dumbed down). A lot of this forces app upgrades which is another huge issue since it now seems even the most insignificant app now wants FULL access to every aspect of your device and data. I've stopped updating. Give me 'security' only .. tell the carrier they can keep the cr**. Btw, there is an excellent blog by a malware researcher that covers Android malware. Worth keeping up with .. Google and the carriers don't: http://blogs.mcafee.com/tag/android

jc
jc

My two-year old Droid Incredible started receiving update downloads and requests to install same, a little over a year after buying it. In the first year, I had no issues with the phone. In the 2nd year, all sorts of issues began to crop up. I defaulted the phone 4 times in the 2nd year! Each time being prompted with, and gladly accepting the update right after defaulting. When finally buying a new phone, the Verizon rep told me that the memory errors, spontaneous rebooting, sync issues, and turning on in the middle of the night (among other unstable behaviors) were a result of a poorly written update pushed out from Google. Because the phone was three year old technology, Google was not going to devote resources to correcting a bad update. WTH?! Was this Verizon sales speak for buy a new phone, or him seeing many of the same issues come through the door? I think the latter, as I made no secret that I was more than ready for a new phone, walking in the door.

dcolbert
dcolbert

I have GroveIP installed, and I have never set an AUTOMATIC action to take when a request to dial is sent from a webpage... So, I've got a chicken-switch by *accident*. When I hit the page, it comes up requesting if I want to use GroveIP or Dialer to complete the action. I can also cancel completely. I see that Dylan illustrates using the same technique as a simple workaround in his description of the exploit. Still - fairly troubling that we don't get security patches in a far faster manner on Android devices, I'll admit that much. Droid 4 on 4.0.4... Verizon, of course.

JCitizen
JCitizen

Just wow! That is all I can say, except I'm disappointed in myself for not realizing the juggernaut which was Android could be brought down by one simple fact. Update problems! At first the pay for update idea was not attractive to me, but now that I've read this, maybe we just need at least warranty insurance that covers updating issues? Maybe this would be an out for the manufacturers. The whole thing that was beautiful about Android was the freedom to pick the hardware, applications, and the reasonable cost to it all, but the cost factor is in jeopardy now! It is sad to see the first successful challenger to Apple and Microsoft fall flat on their face over this one issue, but I can see it coming now.

ngosney
ngosney

I think that the recent decision by Motorola to stop update plans for three of their devices(Photon 4g, Atrix 4g, and Electrify) is a great example of the problem with Android phones. As the owner of a Motorola Photon 4g, I purchased the phone based on the promised that my phone would get at least ICS and now it has been made known that it will remain on 2.3 or Gingerbread. I went with Android because I liked how it was an open sourced platform, now I am thinking that I would rather have a more "locked down" platform and receive timely updates. I truly believe that the manufactures are to blame because they don't want to pay developers to configure the latest OS to "old" phones. It is more profitable for them to force users to purchase their latest device and we suffer because of it.

adennya
adennya

I had my Motorola/Verizon Droid 4, my first, for less than two weeks and was getting up to speed on the original OS. Motorola insisted on an update to what Verizon tells me is Ice Cream Sandwich. Verizon says no choice... do it now or do it later. I finally took the time to allow the upgrade. Now I have a phone that I absolutely hate. I can't find anything and many of the "features" that I was learning about just are not there to be found. I'm told the update was to address the vulnerability mentioned in this article. I wish I had my vulnerability back. I went to one of those wonderful Verizon "Android Workshops" and left disgusted in the middle of the class. They didn't know any more about my phone and OS than I did. I have two years to go with this thing but if I can rake up the money I'll dump it and pay the penalty. The "upgrade" ruined my phone.

mikeh222
mikeh222

There are also WiFi only Android tablets that cellphone providers are not involved with. What about them? I have an Android 4 Samsung tablet that has been updated a couple times over the air. However, I also have a Samsung Android 2 tablet that remains at version 2. Another Android tablet, this one from Toshiba, was upgraded from Android 3 to 4.

mhenriday
mhenriday

of mandating that all updates are made available to users by the handset manufacturers, these latter, whose attitude seems to be, as noted above, «motivated solely by the prospect of selling more devices» (Want an update ? Buy our latest model [which often isn't up-to-date] !) are hardly going to do so. This business-model failure (as I deem it) may well be the greatest threat to Android's present dominance of the smart-phone market.... Henri

AZ_IT
AZ_IT

One, as consumers we all rise up and collectively either sue or petition the carriers and the manufacturers in order to get them to give a crap. Since a petition doesn't carry any monetary weight a lawsuit would be the only thing to change policy. Unfortunately there doesn't appear to be grounds unless you are a victim of a flaw that was fixed in an android release. So that leaves us with option number two. We all root our phones unfortunately in most cases that voids the warranty. So the take home is that as consumers we lose. Maybe someone knows a good lawyer that lives for class action lawsuits.

jp-eng
jp-eng

... but the only consumable part on a smartphone is usually the battery. On the other hand, maintenance is always a part of software, and I look at security flaws, fragility in use, and so forth as maintenance. Correcting a periodic crash is maintenance, not enhancement. Closing a security hole is maintenance, not enhancement. I have no objection to paying for maintenance. But the carriers refuse even to allow me to buy it, even when it's given them free by Google. And it's not as if it were difficult -- third parties have cracked almost all the phones and improved operation, and even made it possible to install Google's updates when the carriers are irresponsible. "I think these forums only work ie move the debate forward, when people stick to the" thread and use the "reply" button provided for that purpose.

HAL 9000
HAL 9000

But any Safety Modifications or those introduced by component suppliers are performed during Routine Service at no cost to the owner as well. ;) When a new Ford came out we had 1,200 Mods to perform on it before we even saw one in the metal so to speak. Then as it started to produce problems there where modifications that where introduced during it's production life that we performed when the cars where brought in for Routine Service. It was always easy to see the cars that had not been serviced by the Dealer because they never had the Routine Mods performed they where always as they left the factory and the owners paid for those Mods a long time after Ford had Stopped. Col

jp-eng
jp-eng

All the bigger software vendors make updates available to all users; many provide them free for download. Smaller vendors often do, too. And Google does, but the carriers sabotage their efforts. Even Samsung admitted after a while that one of their earlier update delays was due not to the claimed hardware testing, but to their own user interface overlay crapware. Even your example of the car industry belies your assertion: every one of them provides detailed specifications of maintenance schedules and actions, and, if there are safety concerns, even where not directly attributable to design errors, they have government-mandated recalls to fix the problems, and often recall without government interference. NONE of this is regularly available from carriers. My wife's phone, a Verizon Galaxy S Fascinate, is still at 2.3.4, which was already out of date in April 2010 when she bought it. She'll be getting a real phone this coming April (that she'll be able to use during our occasional trips to Europe -- hooray!), with service from a less arrogant carrier. Mandatory data plan, indeed!

authorwjf
authorwjf

Unfortunately its not that easy. When you are talking about embedded platforms like phones there have to be hardware specific tweaks. If you simply rooted your phone and loaded the latest version of Android on it, there is a good chance it would brick your device. The exception being if you were running one of the 2 phones right now Google is building for specifically as a reference platform. Which I am by the way. As most Android developers do for just that reason.

Michael Kassner
Michael Kassner

Are the problems experts see. That is unless you look at the business aspect.

JCitizen
JCitizen

that Avast seems to be giving the same good service on this platform, as it does others. I never go anywhere with out it - too bad it won't load on my dumb phone. My phone is just smart enough to get into trouble :p !

Michael Kassner
Michael Kassner

That is valuable information. I know Lookout (a mobile AV app) did not provide any warning, in fact it was shut off on my phone during the reboot. I'm glad you mentioned it.

Michael Kassner
Michael Kassner

Like your nickname. I need some help. I do not understand what you mean: "Many OS's are backward-compatible to a degree, so the argument for testing older hardware with a new OS doesn't hold much water in this regard." And, William and I both mentioned that OEMs are forcing users to buy new hardware to update, I did myself. (Infuse to SIII)

Michael Kassner
Michael Kassner

You are technically astute. I try to envision my father (88) jailbreaking his phone and the image does not work. But, he loves his smartphone.

authorwjf
authorwjf

Interesting concept! One reason manufacturers tout they stay away from updating every time a new version of Android is released is because many of those changes that improve performance of things like the display and the radio require additional hardware testing and integration to work with vendor specific chip sets. But if the Android open source project managed to separate security from other types of updates manufacturers might be able to quickly pass along security patches without incurring the the expense and risk of updating firmware more closely tied to the physical hardware. Though in the particular case this post discusses the exploit and fix for that exploit all stem from software Samsung created and added on top of the default OS distribution so it wasn't really necessary to update Android itself to patch the hole.

Michael Kassner
Michael Kassner

That is an interesting idea. And thanks for the link.

Michael Kassner
Michael Kassner

What I try to do is determine if the problem is individualized to carriers, OEMs, or not. For example, if the problem is across the board, then I would look at Android itself.

Michael Kassner
Michael Kassner

It's good to learn how different devices handle the website.

Michael Kassner
Michael Kassner

I'm concerned about when the bad guys get it figured out. Will Android be fixed like this time or will people have to fend for themselves.

Michael Kassner
Michael Kassner

It is a problem. And, as many of the experts I interviewed explained, there doesn't seem to be viable solution in sight.

Michael Kassner
Michael Kassner

Did you try the Dylan Reeve website ( URL in article) to see if your phone is indeed not vulnerable? The reason I mention this, my Samsung has Ice Cream Sandwich and it did not pass until this latest update to 4.0.4.

Michael Kassner
Michael Kassner

They obviously do not have the USSD issue, but not getting updated via Wi-Fi means they are vulnerable to other attack vectors.

Michael Kassner
Michael Kassner

I think William agrees when he pointed out the only way OEMs and telco's will be motivated is if their bottom line is affected.

Michael Kassner
Michael Kassner

I really don't see a clear way out of it. What are your thoughts about users paying for updates?

JCitizen
JCitizen

seem to refuse to do necessary mods - especially the highly tech related ones that involve wiring. I'm trying to get my dealer to fix a known wiring wear problem on my "government motors" machine. :p

brian.smith
brian.smith

I think if Samsung or anybody else sold a mobile with, say, an exploding battery then they would be obliged to recall the product and supply replacements. But this doesn't mean that if they improve their product they are obliged to provide replacements for free. Car manufacturers only recall their products when there is a safety issue. If they uprate the specification - new styling, better engine, satnav included etc - then to get them if you have to buy a new car.

jp-eng
jp-eng

What does the "edit" link do? I tried a couple of times and it did nothing.

jp-eng
jp-eng

I tried the dylanreeves site with my Nexus S (4.1.1), and Lookout popped up asking whether I wanted to continue with phone, browser, or cancel. I responded "browser", and the phone dialer popped up with a code; I cancelled the dialer, and the web page popped up saying that if I saw the code, (quoted in the website), I was safe. There have been no visible Android updates since the 4.1.1 update; I wonder whether a silent Lookout update (which I've allowed to automatically update) did it, or whether there's been a silent Android update, or Android 4.1.1 was already safe despite your sources' assertion. BTW, I deliberately bought a Nexus S at full retail price because I had grown tired of Verizon's misbehavior, and reading this and other fora implied that all the other carriers did the same things. I'm very happy with my $528 phone with usage-based subscription that costs about a third what my wife pays for her Galaxy S, which Verizon has already, in less than two years, replaced twice because their local technical help can't solve her periodic freezing problems.

authorwjf
authorwjf

To be fair to the manufacturers, just because an OS is backward compatible does not mean that there is zero testing to do on the hardware when a new version comes out. Google writes and releases a baseline version of Android, which they test on a few reference pieces of hardware. Unlike the Windows desktop model right now each phone mfg has to take the baseline OS and add their specific drivers, and on top of that they add their own applications (which users may or may not want). The point is when Google releases a patch or update a manufacturer still must merge Google's code base, with their own, then check for any unwanted side-affects. Generally, there should be few if any. But none-the-less, it would be irresponsible of a mfg not to at least dedicate some time and resources to making sure everything behaved as expected. It's this overhead, along with the effort of coordinating an over-the-air update, that the manufacturers and carriers are reluctant to incur. Even if the cost to them is minimal it is still cost vs. profit if a user is just forced into buying a new phone. And don't forget from a carrier perspective more times than not a new phone means a contract extension. Google gets more market penetration, the manufacturer sells more hardware, and the carrier gets to extend a contract. Everyone wins except for the consumer. Its a vicious model that we are not on the winning end of. I think it will take a lot to motivate change.

SkyNET32
SkyNET32

When folks stampede over to Apple or WIndows (where upates are free)

jonrosen
jonrosen

The main stumbling block is the carriers and the hardware not updating. Personally, I say that if my phone is hacked due to a known issue, then both of them should be liable, since it is against warranty to jailbreak to fix what they don't. They get a class-action lawsuit from a few dozen, if not a few thousand people.. they'll change their tune.. As to paying for updates. H3LL no.. Android provides it free. We're already paying and generally overpaying for what the carriers 'provide' us with, and they are NOT lacking for money. Add in all the extra funding they get for forcing the various bloatware crap on us. It's the least they can do. Personally, I didn't jailbreak my last phone, because it was a freebie smartphone to see if I even wanted one. Now the one I have is worth it, but I don't want to void anything by jail breaking it... yet. My carrier continues with the BS, I may just do it anyway. But the previous phone, the carrier bloatware was killing it. It simply didn't have the memory to hold all their useless crap, and actually run anything I wanted worth a damn. The current one.. Bah, not a problem. runs everything I like and then some. Though after the most recent 'upgrade' more goes wrong than did before. But I have little doubt that it's more thanks to the provider's added crapware than anything Google/Android actually added in the upgrade.

AZ_IT
AZ_IT

but they seem to invent new ways to charge us, as consumers, more money. I really think that what they charge should cover OS updates that Google releases for free. Google supplies the OS and software, the manufacturer's provide the hardware, the carrier provides the network. I think one of the main issues is the fact that this model is not strictly followed. Manufacturers and carriers load their own software on top of the base OS and so to release updates they have to test and fix their stuff beforehand. That costs money. So what the manufacturers and carriers need to do is just leave the base OS alone and keep all extraneous software to an extreme minimum, in my opinion non-existent. The model doesn't work right now because the model has been violated by both the carriers and the manufacturers. If they want software on the phone they should provide it optionally via the Play Store. Then they just need to insure that their software is best-of-breed and people will use it.

HAL 9000
HAL 9000

Blinker Fluid is very hard to replace and it's much easier to replace the car or so a Blond I know insists. ;) Col

jp-eng
jp-eng

...your windshield wipers wear out. ...your brake pads wear out. ...your fluid levels get low. ...your tires get bald. ...etc. ...etc. ...

HAL 9000
HAL 9000

Open your post and allow you to edit it. But depending on when you logged in you may find that it doesn't work this is generally when the site is undergoing Maintains or an Upgrade. ;) [i]Edited to add[/i] Though it's working now. ;) Col

Michael Kassner
Michael Kassner

Thank you for sharing what you found. I suspect Lookout was the reason you were not vulnerable. After your comment, I now believe my Lookout would have stopped the website, but it was shut off because I did have to update and restart the phone. Then Lookout did not start up again for some reason.

Michael Kassner
Michael Kassner

As I mentioned they have an advantage of controlling the build. But, many do not like that kind of control as witnessed by the number of Android activations.

Michael Kassner
Michael Kassner

The thing that bothers me about unwanted software is that it seems to want updates more than any app I personally install. I look at the permissions it asks for and refuse. The next day it's back asking to update.

jonmer
jonmer

Thats exactly the point behind Apple's strategy with iOS and such tight control. Guess they aint that wrong in doing so really!

to_be_announced
to_be_announced

If these carriers and OEM's continue to insist that these non-removable apps be forced upon us, then they should adjust the advertising for these phones as well. If I buy a phone that is advertised as having 16 GB of memory, but then I have a gazillion apps forced on me that I can't remove, that takes away from my ability to put my own pictures, apps, etc. on the device.

Michael Kassner
Michael Kassner

I'm betting Samsung and the other OEMs get a big chunk of money to have those additional apps installed and non-removable.