For as long as Google has licensed Android to device makers, it has required its partners to install certain apps on all authorized devices. In the case of my Kobo Arc tablet, that includes Maps, People, Gmail, Newsstand, Play Music, and other Google apps, but the list of bloatware for my next Android device will almost certainly prove to be much shorter.
Android Central, Teleread, and other sites are reporting this week that Google has culled several apps from its bloatware list. Google is no longer going to force device makers to install Play Games, Play Books, Google+, and Newsstand in its mandatory app bundle, and that means they probably won't be on your next Android tablet or smartphone when you power it on for the first time. You can still install them, sure (assuming you want to waste the space), but you won't be forced to.
I've never been one to use any of the apps, but I've always understood why Google insisted on them: it gave Google an advantage over its competitors. In the case of Play Books, it was the one Epub app you knew would be on every device. That is bloatware, but it's also a plus because it guaranteed that Android devices would offer at least a minimal support for Epub (much like PDF works everywhere).
But now Google is giving up the home field advantage. Do you suppose that means Google doesn't care about ebooks any more?
image by Kham Tran