Sprint Silently Pushes “Drive First” Child Safety Bloatware To Android Devices – Here’s How To Find It, And Kill It


A few months back, we told you how Sprint was offering a new service for parents looking to cut down on their teens texting behind the wheel. It’s called “Drive First” and for $2 a month, parents have the ability to enable the provided Android app to lock a teen’s phone from sending/receiving text messages while the car is in motion. Great too for parents. But what about the rest of us?

Well, what has rustled the feathers of a few Sprint customers is the application has been pushed to devices — whether you signed up for the service or not — via an app in the Play Store labeled “Smart Device Manager” by Location Labs. The application is already installed on users’ devices and requires a long, long list of permissions. Like every other preinstalled app, it cannot be uninstalled (a security measure, no doubt, to prevent rebellious teens from getting rid of it).

The problem some are having is that a glitch in the Play Store is prompting users to update the app/process, exposing the software on their devices. The Smart Device Manager process will continue running in the background, sucking up precious resources, however minimal. This process can be killed by jumping into your Settings > Applications > Manage Applications > Running (tab) > Smart Device Manager > Stop, but the process will just start up again moments later. The only real way to remove this application/process is if you’re a rooted user with system access, in which case — you know what to do. “If it bleeds, we can kill it.”

Carrier bloatware shouldn’t be anything new to anyone on a 2-year contract. We’ve seen OTA updates in the past where a few “bonus” carrier apps managed to slip onto our devices. But after the whole Carrier IQ privacy debacle, the last thing some Sprint users want is another 3rd party application with access to just about every permission in the book on their device. I just wanted to give you guys a heads up. Well, those of you that are a bit more anal about apps requesting loads of permissions running on your phone. Cheers.

Thanks, mmark27!

Chris Chavez
I've been obsessed with consumer technology for about as long as I can remember, be it video games, photography, or mobile devices. If you can plug it in, I have to own it. Preparing for the day when Android finally becomes self-aware and I get to welcome our new robot overlords.

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  1. God bless root access.

      1. not really . . . and does this mean you support teens texting while already driving badly? :P

        ok, so after saying it aloud a few times, I guess it does rhyme . . .

  2. app with good intentions, poor follow through. i really get tired of bloatware but to be completely honest this is the most realistic one. it at least TRIES to do some good by saving lives. just very poor execution

  3. Reminds me when Boost mobile updated their first cdma andoird device the Samsung Galaxy prevail to GB from Froyo the rom was so bloated with unremoveable bloatware you couldnt do anything such as text someone and receive a text back.

  4. Actually this whole article is false, that is a background process and not an app and is not enabled unless apps like Drive First are installed. This process had been on Sprint Android devices since last Fall. The only reason you think they are being ”pushed out” is because of a glitch in Google Play which is prompting the process to request an update from the user which is falsely showing out as an app. Location Labs has already clarified this on Sprint Community. The process will not use resources unless the app that it belongs to is installed. The process is minimal size, 600Kb. The reason you can’t uninstall it is because you wouldn’t want the child you are trying to protect with Drive First to uninstall it. Sprint has actually been a leader in minimizing carrier bloatware so maybe you should get your facts straight.

    1. Facts and Phandroid don’t go hand in hand.

    2. Agreed about Sprint and bloatware.

      The reason why I sent this in is because Location Labs through the Play Store has pushed this update to all its phones.  If updated, the app becomes active and locks your phone when in motion.  It was more of a PSA than anything about “be careful with this app (or process, technically) on your phone”.  Several people updated this application unknowingly and there’s no way to undo the action (as designed).  Granted most of those users aren’t going to read phandroid either….or apparently work for Sprint like you.  I truly think that this should be removable with a pin or something specific. Also, the process _does_ sit in the running processes section of the phone.  It consumes a very small amount of processing power even when not updated and/or active (mine currently shows 2.1MB used, if you stop the process, it’ll start right back up again).  There isn’t really a point of having this happen on everyone’s phones if they don’t want the service.  Just because “it sits there” doesn’t mean that it should be on the phone.  CIQ reportedly just sat there too, but they caused quite the kerfuffle.  It should be install-able when wanted.  That’s what the Sprint section of the Play Store is for.

      1. kerfuffle I hope you didn’t trademark that because I am going all ios5 on your ass…

  5. Also, when you look at the app description (at least when i found out about it), it also spoke of how a person would be able to monitor the other persons phone as far as being able to not only see their location, but also to be able to read their texts as well. Huge privacy fail if done without knowledge nor consent

  6. What if the kids kidnapped in a speeding car?

    1. I would assume that any app designed to prevent calling/texting while driving would not prevent emergency calls, such as to 911.  I could be wrong though.

      1. You’re correct. It eve show right above in the picture that there is a 911 Dial button always available.

  7. Great intentions behind the app, but what happens when you’re a passenger? I’m assuming this is based on how fast you are moving which would suck for long trips as a passenger and not a driver.

    1. Passengers can use their phones by disabling the app and the account holder will get an email.  So, if your 17 year old disables the app while driving the parent will get an email that states that it was disabled.

  8. @75ef2fe473763a3ea905f4120436d196:disqus 
    Sprint has actually been a leader in minimizing carrier bloatware so maybe you should get your facts straight. 

    WTF are you talking about? Other than the Google Nexus and iPhone, for obvious reasons, Sprint has pre-installed multiple bloatware applications on EACH and EVERY Android device. Have we quickly forgotten about Blockbuster, Amazon, Sprint TV, Sprint Zone, Sprint ID, NFL, Nascar and plethora of worthless trial-ware games? Even the latest updates that let you “remove” some of the applications DON’T actually remove the .APK but instead hide them from the launcher.

  9. So if they were a passenger in a car, in a taxi, on a bus, or on a train…they would not be able to use their phone? Genius, Sprint! FAIL

    1. Wrong.  you can disable the app and it sends a text/email to the account holder.  Not a “fail.”

  10. For those that are using “fail” as a noun, this product is what is called a good start.  You can make and receive emergency calls and a passenger can disable it.  I would suggest to all that you read the instructions to know the facts.  Maybe the writer was tired when he wrote this at 1:28 a.m.   

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