In addition to quicker-than-normal updates, one aspect of the Nexus line of phones and tablets is the prospect of buying a “pure Google” device with absolutely no carrier or manufacturer bloat of any kind. That’s why I was so intrigued – and a little angry – when I discovered the smallest trace of bloat on the new 32GB ASUS Nexus 7 I picked up last Saturday.
If you’re not rooted, you probably wouldn’t ever notice this. But that’s one of the first things I did after getting my new tablet – I’m actually not really into the whole custom ROM scene, but there are a few root-only apps I like to run.
So after rooting the device and installing SD Maid, I fired up the app and started to poke around. By total accident, I soon noticed that “ASUS Keyboard” was listed as a system app that was frozen by default. I unfroze it, but was unable to select it in Android’s Language & input menu.
Still, given my previous experience with the ASUS Eee Pad Transformer Prime and Transformer Pad Infinity, I knew that this keyboard is the same one that comes preinstalled as the default on other ASUS tablets. And this, of course, begs the question, how the heck did this get on a Nexus tablet to begin with?
I’m not sure if this affects other versions of the Nexus 7, such as the 8GB, 16GB, or 3G versions. And I also don’t know if this was included in previous software versions. But the fact remains that it’s an .apk file that has no business being on a Nexus device, even if it is frozen by default. This also makes me wonder if ASUS has secretly added any other bits of code throughout the OS, unbeknownst to users, or perhaps even Google.
But, at the same time, this could also just be a mistake that will be removed with the next update. We’ll just have to wait and see.