Yes, you read that headline correctly. One new “feature” in the Android 5.1 update for the Nexus 6 that has a lot of people outraged is bloatware from Verizon. Worse yet, this bloatware is enabled on all Nexus 6 devices that install Android 5.1 – even ones sold by Google, even ones sold by other carriers like AT&T, even ones sold in other countries.
The bloat is the Verizon Backup app, and it’s there even though Google has the ability, since Android 5.0, to selectively allow carriers to push certain apps to their customer’s devices. T-Mobile does this with its My Account app: The first time you start up your Nexus 6, if it detects a T-Mobile SIM, it will download the app. If it has any other SIM, the app won’t touch your phone.
To add insult to injury, you can’t even disable the Verizon app without rooting your phone – the option to disable it is grayed out.
Some Verizon defenders might point out that the Nexus 5 and Nexus 6 have both had a tiny bit of Sprint-exclusive software pre-installed on their devices from the very beginning, but the counter-argument to that is the Sprint DM app is required in order to activate the device on Sprint’s network. It’s technologically not possible to activate a Nexus on Sprint without this app. It is possible, however, to activate a Nexus 6 on Verizon without the Verizon backup app.
Want to vent? There’s a thread on Reddit with over a hundred comments and counting, which is practically unprecedented in the /r/nexus6 sub-reddit.
In any case, I find this incredibly disappointing, especially since Google designed Lollipop with a clear intention to prevent crap like this from every happening. But I guess this is the price Google ultimately had to pay in order to play with Verizon.