What are System Apps?
Installing apps on your Android device is an absolute breeze. Just search for the app on the Play Store and click on the Install button. You can install it either as system apps or as user apps.
System apps are pre-installed apps in the system partition with your ROM. In other words, a system app is simply an app placed under ‘/system/app‘ folder on an Android device. ‘/system/app’ is a read-only folder. Android device users do not have access to this partition. Hence, users cannot directly install or uninstall apps to/from it.
Apps such as camera, settings, messages, Google Play Store, etc. come pre-installed with the phone and manufacturers do not generally provide an option to remove such apps as this might impact the functioning of your device. A system app can only be removed if the device is rooted.
Non-system/third-party/User apps are apps downloaded from Google Play Store or sideloaded with an APK file.
A non-system app is installed under /data/app folder and has read, write privileges. If there are apps that you have installed but you no longer use, you can simply uninstall them to free up storage space.
There might be situations when you wish to do a factory reset because your phone “misbehaves”. But the problem with factory reset is that it removes all user data and applications. In such cases, you can convert the apps you wish to keep as system apps and then perform a factory reset. You can use apps such as Titanium Backup to convert user apps as system apps. Unlike user apps, system apps will not be deleted after a factory reset.
Hexnode MDM as system app
When Hexnode MDM is installed on the device as a system app, a number of benefits are added-on to the device.
- Silent app installation and uninstallation– The apps can be installed and later on, removed from the device without user intervention.
- Hexnode app becomes non-removable– Adding the Hexnode app in the /system/app folder prevents the users from removing it from the device.
- Device Restart– A device restart can be initiated from the Hexnode MDM console.
- Power off– The device can be remotely turned off via the Hexnode MDM portal.
- Lost mode– For enhanced device security in case the device is lost or stolen, lost mode can be enabled thus locking down the device, making it functionless. ROM configured Android devices boots up in lost mode to ensure security.
How to Blacklist/Whitelist System Apps
With Hexnode MDM, you can blacklist or whitelist apps on Android, iOS, and macOS devices. Blacklisting restricts users from using specific apps on the devices whereas whitelisting restricts users to using specific apps on devices.
To remove system apps on your device,
- Go to Policies > New policy.
- Click on Advanced Restrictions under iOS Settings.
- Enable Remove system apps.
- Click on Policy Targets to add the devices you wish to associate the policy with.
- Save your policy.