PSA: North American Nexus 6s have a tad bit of Verizon bloatware after Android 5.1 (even if you’re with a different carrier)



You might have heard that the Nexus 6 (in America, at least) is now starting to receive Android 5.1 Lollipop. You can even grab the OTA file right now and begin flashing it if it hasn’t already hit your phone. Most users will immediately notice a nice performance boost thanks to a large heap of bugs squashed by Google and co.

But those who dig even deeper might find something a bit unsettling: there’s a Verizon Backup app pre-installed. It can’t be uninstalled. It can’t even be disabled. And it’s there no matter which carrier you bought your Nexus through or who you have it activated with. It wasn’t on any of the firmware versions prior to Android 5.1, which makes sense considering Verizon’s Nexus 6 has just gone up for sale and it comes with Android 5.1 out of the box.

nexus 6 verizon backup screenshot

“The horror,” you might exclaim. “Big Red is evil,” you’ll shout. Before you grab those pitchforks and torches, though, there are a few things to note:

  • As Google mentioned when the Nexus 6 was announced, every single North American unit is the exact same hardware and share the exact same firmware in order to allow people to use it on whichever carrier they wish.
  • Verizon is not the only carrier to have one of these system apps included with the Nexus 6’s firmware. Sprint has an app called SprintDM that facilitates device provisions and activations for anyone who wants to use the Nexus 6 on their network, and it’s been there since the launch of the Nexus 6.
  • The Verizon Backup app can’t be disabled or uninstalled, sure, but it’s a mere 32KB in size, doesn’t exist in your app drawer and — as far as we know — does nothing to adversely affect your user experience. You’ll find that you can now add a “Verizon Backup” account under the standard accounts menu in settings, but it’s just as easy to ignore as anything else in that menu.

So we know this behavior isn’t new, but what we’re still trying to figure out is why Verizon’s Backup has to be included as a system app in the first place. SprintDM’s presence makes sense because it’s a necessary component to get the Nexus 6 automatically activated on the company’s network (which, in turn, is necessary since it’s possible to use any Nexus 6 on any network).

The only plausible explanation that comes to mind is that Verizon Backup requires some sort of low-level system access to work properly for those who need to use it, and Verizon doesn’t want to chance someone either not having the proper background service or accidentally uninstalling/disabling the app.

That’s just a guess, though — we won’t truly know until we can hear it from the horse’s mouth. We’ve reached out to some of our contacts to see if we can get an answer to all this, but in the meantime be sure not to freak out if you notice the app taunting you in your list of installed apps. It’s harmless, and you’ll probably forget it’s even there by the time the day is over.

Quentyn Kennemer
The "Google Phone" sounded too awesome to pass up, so I bought a G1. The rest is history. And yes, I know my name isn't Wilson.

Download: OTA update links for Android 5.1 on the Nexus 5, Nexus 6, Nexus 7 2012 and Nexus 10

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  1. *Grabs pitchfork*

    1. *Grabs torch*

      1. “Grabs AR15 w/ 30rnd mag and locks-n-loads”

          1. I go right for the jugular. Full commitment.

          2. We can make them pay… just don’t want people to die over an app.lol In the zombie apocalypse though i would be happy to have you on my side.

          3. only in a VZW article….we hear bloatware and follow up with nuclear war after an Alien reference haha

          4. Verizon isn’t worth the waste of ammo. lol

          5. Great point! At 35 cent a round, or 60 if you were a tard and panic bought M855 and SS109 in the last 2 weeks, best to be conservative with the rounds.

          6. 5.56/.223 is basically armor piercing already right? i feel scared buying bulk ammo for my FN Scar at Gander Mt. but I am paranoid lol

          7. NOOOOO. All 5.56/.223 is NOT armor piercing in terms of the “official” definition of “armor piercing” that the ATF uses. A few general things here.. there are only two 5.56 rounds designated – wrongly I might add but that is a different story – as “armor piercing”. Those are M855 and SS109 and that is because of the steel tip and generally heavier bullet weight (62g) versus say M193 (55g). Those are both 5.56 rounds, not .223 rounds. BUT, at this stage, in 2015, nearly any 5.56/.223 round could be considered armor piercing as no basic body armor used by LEOs can stop it. But “armor piercing” has a 2 point definition based on bullet size/dimension and amount/composition of the round. So, the point there is, it could be no more or less armor piercing than most 5.56/.223 BUT long ago it was given an “armor piercing” designation given the above 2 points of it’s makeup. So here we are. Now, 5.56 and .223 are essentially the same, a so so so slight difference in casing size, but the bigger difference is that 5.56 is generally more powerful as it has more grains of powder making it a hotter load. So, most current variations of the AR platform can chamber and fire 5.56/.223 and your FN Scar is 5.56 capable. Nothing wrong with buying bulk, if you can do as your PPR is much better. Basically speaking that is… TMI I am sure.

          8. WTF just happened? haha

          9. Education baby… THAT is what just happened :)

          10. If I knew that much about guns and and talked about it I would 0 friends and so many people that are terrified of me. That’s just the perspective of someone who thinks that automatic weapons/assault rifles only belong in the hands of the military and never in the hands of civilians.

          11. Automatic rifles and ‘assault rifles’ are by definition essentially one in the same, because they both have the capability to shoot fully automatic.

          12. and u must be the monopoly guy

          13. Far from it. It’s just a misconception painted by the media that an AR-15 is an assault rifle, though, because by definition ‘assault rifles’ are selective fire (meaning they can shoot either single shot and fully automatic).

          14. that is great. super cool. Not sure if you have been reading this….but we all just having a fun random conversation that has little to do with the actual article….not sure why you thought responding would get you any other kind of response. maybe a response that has little or nothing to do with your crazy claims? ;)

          15. so by this definition is my Glock an ‘Assault Handgun’ since it can be modified to shoot full auto?

          16. better question….what kind of gun does Robocop have?? that thing can do it all….is it an assault rifle? full auto?? machine gun? ballistic missile? tattoo gun?

          17. Until you need those people and those weapons defend your rights… one of which is the ability to come here and freely speak and live in a land where you can walk the streets a free woman (or man). Even if you are utterly clueless – literally – about what you write about relative to “automatic weapons” versus “semi-automatic weapons”. But this is why you and I do not share the same friends. If my friends read your post, they would feel sad for you.

          18. Okay, truth be told, that was a clueless thing of me to say.

            The US is not the only place in the world where you have the right to speak your mind. There are these places called Europe and Canada
            that has every right you havr
            The only people I myself, most of Western and Northern Europe and Australia feel sorry for is part of a country where people are obsessed with guns and who believe that everyone having access to them will solve everyone’s problems.

            Meanwhile the economic and social problems of race divides, random shootings where dozens of civilians are randomly killed, virtual slavery

          19. Okay, truth be told, that was a clueless thing of me to say.


            The US is not the only place in the world where you have the right to speak your mind. There are places like Europe and Canada where people have every right one has in the US minus all the problems I’ll outline below.

            Just an fyi, I don’t live in the US and yes, that does mean that I can still state obvious and huge problems that people who often defend its right to freedom and guns in and for the US often ignore.

            The only people I myself, most of Western and Northern Europe and Australia feel sorry for is part of a country where a lot of people are obsessed with guns and believe that everyone having access to them will solve everyone’s problems.

            Meanwhile the economic and social problems of racial divides, random shootings where dozens of civilians are killed, virtual indentured servitude in the form of deluding people into chasing the American Dream of becoming rich if you work hard, and rampant poverty and economic hardship are everywhere in the US if you care to look.

            When you invade another country because a small number of people who happen to be from that country hate you and have attacked you for some admittedly mad reasons you’re not defending yourself.

            You’re invading that whole country’s population and when they defend themselves it’s not them condoning the terrible acts that a small number of their nation’s people committed. It’s them telling you that guns and an obsession with military power at the expense of destroying a whole country because some people who are hiding/operating there don’t like you isn’t the way to deal with problems like that (especially while your own country is in shambles).

          20. Note to self: Do not get on FortitudineVincimus’s bad side…

          21. Note to self: befriend FortitudineVincimus and he has your back.

          22. How do you know Verizon doesn’t have a backup app on your AR15?

          23. Because I build all mine up component by component 1 piece at a time.. so I intimately know what makes them up. And I can assure you, no VZW bloatware to be found.

          24. haha omg I was thinking about that reading this whole thing

          25. hands down, my favorite movie ever

          26. It is hilarious and proof positive that Will Ferrell rules. Favourite movie, though? Definitely gonna have to go with Return of the King, haha.

        1. Stand down. We nuke it from orbit. Its the only way to be sure.

          1. OHH YEAH….. 100% agree. Good call

        2. *Slowly puts down torch and creeps out back exit*

          1. *crouching behind you*

          2. More awesome

          3. Awesome

          4. *Returns to Home Depot*

            *Returns Pitchfork*

            *Reevaluates Life Goals* lol

          5. you win the internet for today

        3. Just cleaned the LWRC last night.

          Ready to go when you are.

        4. *shakes head at Americans who actually reach for those weapons since they have them because ‘Murrica*

          1. Yes sir, smarter men than you and I opted to work the right into a document that also gives you the right to make ill-informed and broad brushed comments like this, and me the right to flex my 2A rights.

            As for grabbing a gun in this case, come on man, jokes…. just jokes. But what is far worse, are overly sensitive liberal people that water down our rights. But it’s cool, when/if SHTF you will be happy that people like me with scary guns are here to protect you.

          2. So I’m ill-informed and broad-brushing things for thinking that guns and violence don’t and never will solve all the problems in the US and anywhere where there are problems of any kind?

            I am not a liberal. I don’t want to water down anyone’s rights (unless you’re going to use those rights to be a manically obsessed, violent madman or a resource-grabbing “empire”). Anyone who advocates behaviour like that just because shouldn’t have those rights in the first place.

            I advocate reason and actual understanding of the big picture of any situation rather than grabbing my automatic weapons, tanks and the “you don’t know what we do for the world/you don’t appreciate your freedom that you have thanks to US” argument if there’s any kind of problem for any reason.

            When someone points out flaws in the “Murrica” philosophy everyone seems to turn into huge advocates for said philosophy even when you start telling people how messed-up it is to think that way.

            If that makes me a liberal/commie/socialist then so be it.

    2. *Goes to Home Depot*

      *Buys pitchfork*

      Those bastards will pay!!!

      1. I’m mad you went to Home Depot. LoL!!

        1. i just don’t have pitchforks laying around fam lol i had to go cop one.

    3. Wow, lotta folks like Verizon from the looks of these comments.

  2. I use google to back up my info no need for verizon at all in this case!

    1. Classic VZW; just like with their stupid Navigation app. They repeat products that are already freely available and 100x more refined than theirs. So laughably redundant. As you said, Google can and does backup automatically and seamlessly behind the scenes most of your key info. Need more, Dropbox can do your photos instantly to the cloud the moment you take them. For SMS use SMS Backup. Yada yada.

  3. soooo…tmobile customers can use verizons backup solution?

    1. Can? Or will? That is the real question.

    2. No, you can’t, you just have it for shits and giggles…and for reasons outlined above.

  4. So this is only on the carrier versions, right? Not the Google Play version?

    1. try reading

      1. Try kissing my ass.

        1. I’ve searched for a port on both my computer and phone to make this possible. I can’t figure it out…

    2. Nope, on every version of the phone in the world regardless if using T-Mobile in the U.S. or whatever popular carrier in a different country. Every single Nexus 6 with 5.1 will have these.

  5. But isn’t the point of a Nexus is to avoid bloatware? We need to lobby politicians to write legislations to reduce bloatware.

    1. for real. I had some on my AT&T variant. Thankfully I read up on it before turning it on and setting it up without the sim-card inserted. I only had 1 app on there but was unable to easily uninstall it. I think that was the point with it though, I read they wanted the carriers to not lock the apps in there.

      1. AT&T only installs 2 apps during the initial install and both are removed in about 3 seconds, so it wasn’t even really an issue. No sense removing and putting back in the SIM card for that.

        1. I did not know that to be honest….my G3 had 7 apps I think that ATT installed. As did my G2 and S3. I thought all phones had all of these. my bad

          1. I only know because I knew any carrier apps could be uninstalled quickly, so it was more of a “Meh, effort” involved in removing the SIM.

            Was pleasantly surprised when only two apps, that I immediately uninstalled from the app drawer, were downloaded and installed.

  6. It would be great if , when ATT 5.1 update comes out, they do something about that sound level of the ATT jingle when starting up the phone, it is so damn loud. As far as the bloatware goes, as long as a phone is being subsidized by the carriers, regardless of it being a Nexus, they will find a way to put it on there!!

    1. Back up everything on your phone, get the Cyanogenmod installer and it’ll do everything for you to fix that. Problem solved and OS improved too.

  7. I thought the carrier payload feature was supposed to solve this.

  8. That app is the single biggest annoyance on Verizon phones that I’ve had. It pops up as a choice to add a contact, can’t be disabled,and is in the factory reset screens. All it does is send all your contacts and related things to Verizon so they can track you and sell your data. Good job Google.

    1. For all the root haters THIS is 1 reason alone to root. Root and nuke this shizzz (and anything else) off your phone. You get last laugh.

      But just a thought, can this app be hibernated/disabeled in 5.0? Well, if not, root, nuke, done.

      1. You sure it’s going to work with Verizon if you root it and remove the app?

  9. Effing Verizon always screwing up their Nexus launches. Glad I’ve never had the ‘pleasure’ of being a Verizon customer.

    1. Now they’re screwing it up for everybody else too.

    2. Yes they do. The problem is that their network is the best by far. I have used att T-Mobile and sprint. I stuck with Verizon simply because I travel to a lot of job sites in the middle of no where and many times they are the only ones that work…….sigh

    3. In Florida, I feel T-Mobile is the best. Now that I’ve moved to Tennessee, at&t seems to be the best here. Just my 2¢

  10. Nexus 6 users can now thank Verizon for every single delay in Android updates thanks to Verizon needing to spend six months ensuring compatibility of this craptastical app and Android.

  11. I tweeted about this last night around 10:30 ET after I updated my N6.

    1. Bravo!

    2. Interesting…

      1. Said every sentient bird ever, haha. I love Smosh’s take on Twitter from about 4 years ago:


  12. i think i’ll re acivate my DROID RAZR MAXX HD and keep my N6 pristene and wait for google wireless.

  13. That awkward moment when the iPhone has less carrier bloat…

    1. Question: Is it easy to switch an iPhone from carrier to carrier?

      1. as long as its unlocked and has the right bands, its juts as easy to go from one carrier to another.

        from everything I have heard though, the nexus 6 is the only phone that supports ALL major US carriers with a single handset….could be wrong though.

      2. No, it is not possible yet. Still have to get a whole new iPhone to switch. But I too would like to know if an app like this is present on iPhone and if not…why is it necessary?

        1. Yes, good news it sure IS! As long as its a VZW model or an UNLOCKED model purchased from Apple at full retail. With EITHER of those TWO devices you can choose VZW, AT&T or T-Mobile.

          Sprint has a different model (SKU) due to its FDD-LTE & is the model used in Asia (China Unicom, SoftBank, etc.)

    2. So the iPhone isn’t bloated with Verizon’s backup up? Why does it need to be on Android phones? Google really needs to grow some balls and tell Verizon to piss off.

  14. I am not surprised by anything from Verizon

  15. I bet it’s there to provide extra permissions that Verizon needs to have in order for its backup app to work. It may be a thin shim that when activated on Verizon will be complemented by a ‘thicker’ app on the OEM partition.

  16. Verizon and Nexus just dont go together. Learned that one the hard way by way of the Galaxy Nexus. It’s too little too late now. At this point people would be wise to wait for flagships coming out next month or even the nest iteration of the Nexus device coming later this year. Funny seeing the galaxy S5 and Lg G3 commercials on tv now, trying to snag the last few sales before their new flagship commercials hit next month. If a person didnt know better they would think the S5 and g3 are new and not about to be outdated watching these advertisements

    1. Things change. Been using the Nexus 6 on Verizon since December and I get timely updates without Verizon messing them up. Every model is the same, regardless of carrier. They can’t stop me from updating. It was different years ago with the Galaxy Nexus.

      1. If you have been using it since December, It’s not a Verizon Device Nexus 6.
        I can Guarantee you the Official Verizon one will Have other verizon apps installed on it and will get its updates from verizon. When and if they deem them necessary to put out

        1. Certainly he is talking about the Google play unlocked sim Nexus 6 which is what I am running. That is the only way to fully unlock the Google experience. I just use Verizon as a gateway to the internet, I am not bound to their crapware or contracts.

          1. Well thats obvious to everybody but him.
            But like I said, The verizon one will have Verizon bloat and all updates will be at the whim of verizon and most probably wont materialize

    2. At this point, people would be wise to leave Verizon. Fixed it for you.

  17. Too late!!

  18. Wait so since all the nexus 6’s are the same and only the north american nexus 6’s are getting this does that mean there’s a separate European firmware I could flash to not have it?

    1. In theory, yes, but I don’t know if anyone checked that one out for similar apps.

    2. There have been two different SKU’s of the N6. One for NA and the other one with radios for the rest of the world.

  19. Umm wow 0_o before the the attack on Verizon happens let me atleast get to Canada first plz …

  20. This is interesting in as it flies in the face of everything Google said about Bloatware & Lollipop at I/O & at Launch with select startup packages in emulation for each Network in the U.S.A.
    Personally, I really don’t have a problem with it, like Derrick said on Google+, who cares, but Nexus people are…a strange group of folks.
    I will also say that this device is struggling to sell or gain ANY traction & Google is making Motorola stick to the ridiculous pricing for the time being.

    1. all I took from this is that we are a bunch of strange folk….and to me, that makes you as horrible as a pierced penis….or did i just prove your point? haha

  21. It doesn’t matter if it’s benign. It doesn’t matter if Sprint has done something similar! It’s Verizon! Screw them! Get out of my phone! Pestilence! My phone is defamed!

  22. Gradually the Nexus line is becoming like any other smart phone in the market. As we have started losing what makes the Nexus different.

  23. Down with Nexus!

  24. Does this also apply to Canadian Nexus 6 models?

  25. So you can’t remove this even with root?

    1. You can do anything with root, including removing / disabling system apps. Just know what you’re doing before attempting any root functions if you haven’t done so before.

  26. Its not the size of the app, its affect on the phone, ect. Its the principal of the thing. Nexus is supposed to be the truly stock Android experience. Shame on Google for allowing this garbage to take place. Don’t let Verizon push you around, not to mention sprint.

    On top of all that, why would anyone want to give more info to Verizon. Remember the past few months of their Super Cookie nonsense? Next their gonna try to tell us that 8t ships with a locked boot loader too. F Big Red

  27. My EU Nexus 6 has that app too, thought it was some new service Google acquired and hid in the phone for future use.
    Oh well.

    EDIT: And this backup app was running in background, great, i’m on a completely different carrier. I also found a SpringDM app hidden, sometimes it shows up running.

  28. Might I suggest that it’s included in lollipop so when google release updates there is no delay in verizon customers having to wait while the backup feature is added by Verizon. Eg how long does it take for samsung updates to arrive or sony updates after google release an update;) My Samsung tablet has only ever received one update and will likely not receive any future updates.

  29. You can flash CyanogenMod if you want something different ;)

  30. I’ll stick with my Verizon nexus 6 from play store …. Similtanious voice and data on 5.1 fair trade I think … And I’ll just remove from my system anyway with root problem solved.

  31. If verizon’s backup app has something that requires it to have a system app to perform it’s carrier-specific function, why can’t T-Mobile include whatever low-level system software is necessary to support T-Mobile Wifi Calling?

  32. It makes it easier to know and follow your location to the exact second no matter where your phone pings is my guess. Soon all phones will have this rubbish. Now the government only has to question one source lol. Or the most logical reason is, Google will be releasing their on phone service soon and this will help with collecting data from various networks. I’m sure they will be sharing space and bandwidth with all carriers. So this is the tradeoff (bloatware).

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