Android is a popular open source mobile operating system that allows you to tweak and customize it to your liking. And it doesn’t require root access or a computer to transform your Android experience. It’s beneficial for your smartphone, and you can replace many aspects of the best cheap Android tablets just the same. However, those preinstalled apps you’ll likely never use have mostly been untouchable since they are part of the core Android system. Depending on the device manufacturer, you may not have the option to disable them, let alone remove them.
Purchasing a new device from a local wireless carrier store may be a popular choice for many, but there’s always a catch. These devices are typically loaded with unwanted apps known as bloatware that can’t be removed using the usual methods. But, you can tap into the Shizuku service to disable or hide as many of them as you want. In this guide, we cover how to freeze the most common bloatware and system apps regardless of the Android phone or tablet you use.
What is bloatware and why is it on my phone
Bloatware describes those unwanted preinstalled apps you get from the device manufacturer or wireless carrier. Some devices are more notorious for this than others. You can even end up with two similar apps installed simultaneously, one from Google and the other from your device manufacturer.
This means you’re left with multiple apps you’ll likely never use. And worse yet, they take up extra storage space and offer minimal options for removing them. Still, there are some cases where you can disable or hide a few of them from the app drawer.
If you’re wondering why many Android phones ship with bloatware and why you may find different preinstalled apps the exact same phone that’s sold by two different carriers, the simple answer is: money.
Bloatware, presintalled apps, Potentially Unwanted Programs (PUP), or whatever you want to call them make manufacturers and carriers money. While many smartphone manufacturers will attempt to ship devices with apps you might actually use (think: Facebook, Amazon, Netflix), carriers may not be as conscientious. Of course manufacturers often use bloatware to remain competitive in specific markets where margins are razor-thin. Pop a new SIM in your phone, however, and there’s a good chance you’ll notice dozens of new and unwanted apps. Carriers use PUPs to upsell its services and to subsidize trade-in deals and promotions.
What’s the story with excessive bloatware?
In the past, we had the Google Play edition program, which lasted only a short time. These were official and certified Android-compatible devices that launched without unnecessary bloatware. They only came with the core Google apps, such as the Google Play Store. Before and slightly after this, the bloatware situation got out of control again, with no ground rules set to limit how much is too much. In the worst-case scenarios, you could end up with dozens of unwanted apps on your device you have no use for.
Since then, Google has enforced stricter rules to reduce how much bloatware manufacturers can include on their devices. Although this benefits everyone, the Shizuku service can take things a step further. Shizuku is a unique on-device modding tool that uses ADB commands and system APIs, allowing you to debloat your device by freezing system apps. And without requiring root access, you can use it on about any Android-compatible device you want, giving you the freedom and flexibility you need.
Why freeze an app instead of uninstalling it?
When you freeze an app on Android, it’s temporarily suspended from your device but not removed entirely. This allows you to restore the app to its original state quickly should you ever need to later. Uninstalling is the process of completely removing an app; it can’t be recovered under normal circumstances.
Freezing a system app, for example, is generally safer than uninstalling it by brute force. The risk factor is a bit less, which is the primary goal. Freezing an app also hides it from your app drawer, helping you clear the extra icon clutter.
The method used in this guide for freezing apps was tested up to Android 13 and the first Android 14 public beta. During our testing, we didn’t experience any issues using Shizuku with Ice Box and its core features. Freezing and defrosting apps work as intended, even on the Android 14 beta release.
How to install and activate the Shizuku service
Before you can freeze apps or bloatware on your Android device, you must enable the Shizuku service. It constantly runs in the background for the apps that rely on it, so keep this part in mind going forward.
As such, you’ll need to manually start the Shizuku service after every reboot because it only runs on your system temporarily. However, this should be fine since you likely won’t restart your device much. And if you have full root access, you can set the service to start automatically with your device to enhance and simplify your experience.
To get the Shizuku service up and running on your device, follow these steps:
- Install the Shizuku app from the Google Play Store.
- Open Shizuku, then go to the Start via Wireless debugging section.
- Tap the Pairing button.
- Follow the on-screen instructions to pair your device with the Shizuku app.
- Return to the main screen for Shizuku and tap the Start button.
- The Shizuku service starts, and you’re ready for the next steps.
If you need a more detailed walkthrough, our guide for activating the Shizuku service on any Android-compatible device will be helpful. We cover everything you need to know, from the built-in wireless debugging feature to using ADB commands on a computer.
How to set up Ice Box with the Shizuku service
Since the Shizuku service is running in the background now, you’ll need a way to manage the apps and bloatware you don’t want. The Ice Box app is designed to freeze and hide any of your installed apps, including system ones. Combining Shizuku with Ice Box gives you a simple yet effective way to freeze the common device bloatware.
To get Ice Box working with Shizuku, check out the following steps:
- Install the Ice Box app from the Google Play Store.
- Open Ice Box, then run through the short intro by swiping from right to left.
- Select the Shizuku Manager option.
- Press the Allow all the time button to give Ice Box access to Shizuku.
- Tap OK to dismiss the Shizuku notice.
- Tap the flashing Apps tab to begin the freezing process.
How to freeze the bloatware on your device
Now that Ice Box is set up and has the proper Shizuku permissions, you can move on to the fun part: freezing your apps. To begin that process, do the following:
- Scroll through the Apps tab and check the boxes next to the apps you want to freeze. Each app is sent to the Frozen list when you check its box. The free version of Ice Box allows you to freeze up to 10 apps. If you need more, you’ll have to purchase the premium version.
- Tap the System tab and check the box next to the apps you want to freeze. The System tab is where you’ll find most preinstalled bloatware. You can only continue once you tap Got It to accept the risk, so be careful about which apps you freeze.
- Return to the main Ice Box screen using the back arrow or gesture.
If you need to later, tap the app icon on the Frozen list to unfreeze it temporarily and open it. You can always long-press the icon and select Freeze to suspend the app again. At the same time, choosing the Remove From List option sets the app back to its original state and takes it off the Frozen list.
Tap the Ice Box tab in the lower-left corner to instantly refreeze all apps as needed. This allows you to freeze them with a single tap instead of manually going through them individually.
How to remove all apps from the Frozen list
If you want to defrost and restore all of your apps from the Frozen list without any extra hassle, there’s a convenient feature you need to know about. To get started, check out these steps:
- Open the Ice Box app to the main screen.
- Tap the three-dot menu in the lower-right corner.
- Go to Settings.
- Under the Misc section, tap the Defrost All option.
- Check the Also disable Auto Freeze box, then tap OK to continue. This ensures the apps don’t automatically freeze later, saving you multiple steps in the long run.
- All apps are now removed from the Frozen list and restored to their original state.
Freezing all bloatware declutters your device
Bloatware used to be more out of control on Android in previous years, but it can still be a problem on some devices today. Since you have no choice regarding how much bloatware is preinstalled, your options for removing or uninstalling them are often limited. However, the Shizuku service and Ice Box allow you to easily suspend any installed system app or bloatware with minimal risk, and no root access is required. Freezing them removes all unnecessary icon clutter, prevents these apps from constantly running in the background, and helps stop battery-draining issues.
With the help of the Shizuku service, you can now back up and restore your Android device using Swift Backup. It’s a powerful tool that offers many of its best features without requiring root access.