In many ways, smartphones give us more control over our lives than ever before, instantly connecting us to information that lets us make informed decisions, makes sure we have the latest news, and keeps us in touch with anyone not living in the stone age. And while that’s all true most of the time, there’s a sinister side that has us giving up some of the control over the software that runs on our phones themselves, and all too often we find carriers behind these manipulations. You may know it simply as “bloat,” the software that you never asked for, that nonetheless finds itself present on your phone (and often stubbornly so). And while pre-installed bloat’s nothing new, owners of certain devices have been sharing word lately of an annoying new form this bloatware’s taking, as they discover unsolicited apps popping up on their phones months after purchase.
The culprit: a little piece of software called Digital Turbine Ignite. Designed to help “mobile operators regain a competitive edge,” the app, which has been popping up on devices like the Note 3 and Note 4 for T-Mobile, can silently install other apps in the background: titles including Cookie Jam and RetailMeNot have been spotted on affected phones. The rationale for Ignite’s presence? Apparently the traditional app-vetting process takes too long. And it’s not just T-Mobile involved either, with Verizon and Cricket also partnering with Digital Turbine.
What’s to be done if you don’t want all these apps? Well, you can disable the main app (listed as “DT_Ignite”) in your Android settings, but that won’t delete it for good – and short of root, you probably can’t. Maybe the most effective tool at your disposal is your voice, making it be known to your carrier that you’re paying it for wireless connectivity (and wireless connectivity alone), and not for software you never asked for. Or just stop buying phones through carriers in the first place. But barring any major change in policy, expect to see plenty more of this sort of thing in the future.