In the previous post, we used a manual method to uninstall system apps on a Moto G3 Android smartphone. Another way to (hopefully) achieve the same ends is to use a Play Store app designed for the purpose. One of the major resources for this task is Titanium Backup, so let’s take a look at the possibilities for using this app.
As the name suggests, Titanium Backup can be used to create backup copies of apps on an Android device. In its Backup/Restore tab, the program lists all the pre-installed system apps, in addition to apps that have been installed by the user. Selecting one of the apps, e.g. Google Play Music, pops up a menu that provides options to backup, freeze, uninstall, run the app, or to wipe any associated data.
If we choose to backup the Play Music app, Titanium Backup creates three files (.properties, .tar.gz, and .apk.gz) in the /sdcard/TitaniumBackup folder in the phone’s internal storage.
If we then select the delete option, the program warns that it is going to uninstall the (original) system package /system/app/Music2/Music2.apk file (see screenshot). Responding yes to “Do you want to un-install it?” results in the complete Music2 folder being deleted.
Titanium Backup now displays the listing for Google Play Music with the text struck out, indicating that the app has been removed, but that the backup copy remains stored in internal storage.
Attempting to restore the app initially proved unsuccessful. Notably, the pop-up “Restoring” message never completed. A check on Titanium Backup’s troubleshooting knowledgebase suggested that there might be “…incorrect permissions (eg: 04755) on your “su” binary…” This seemed unlikely since I had only recently installed SuperSU and updated the software to the latest version.
However, one of the commands indicated as a fix for this issue was to remount the system folder. This triggered the realization that the system folder on my phone was, by default, mounted as read-only and, as such, Titanium Backup was probably unable to write the app’s files back to this location.
Manually mounting the system folder as read-write using Terminal Emulator solved the problem and the restoration operation subsequently completed normally.
The interesting result was that Titanium Backup appeared to have written the file Music2.apk directly into the /system/app folder and had not re-created the original Music2 sub-folder, nor the included /oat/arm/Music2.odex file-folder complex.
The Android file system remains mostly a mystery (to me). Nevertheless, the Play Music app was restored to the app menu and seems to run normally (not that I have any music to play!)
So, Titanium Backup seems to backup, uninstall and restore system apps as advertised. And, as such it may well be a useful tool for those who require these capabilities.
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