Saturday, 28 November 2015

Good apps gone bad: QuickPic and ES File Explorer sold out

QuickPic sold its soul to the devil

QuickPic used to be a great gallery app. Fast, simple, no-nonsense, just your pics and movies.

But then Cheetah Mobile took over. This mob with the business ethics of an investment banking corporation guises as a bunch of different companies, all with the word "Cheetah" in them. It litters the Play Store with questionable apps. Whether file manager or launcher, they all have a "speed booster" and anti-virus app built in. Because that's what Cheetah's apps are for: a way to sell junk, usually in the form of notification bar ads and similar sneaky tactics. I doubt Cheetah's virus scanner ever managed to find a virus anywhere.

So now QuickPic is part of Cheetah's spam empire and the size of the app more than doubled. So far the damage is limited to some aggressive pushing of their cloud storage plan, because your pictures are worth a fortune to advertisers. I wonder what's next?

Fortunately, you can say no to spam. Just get the good old QuickPic without the bloatware from and make sure to tell the Play Store not to update it.

QuickPic at (version 4.5.2 is still bloat-free)

F-Stop (try with an ad blocker)

ES File Explorer adds "features," asks money to remove them

ES File Explorer was the gold standard of Android file managers. Unlimited tabs? Check. Root? Check. All the major cloud services? Check. Sharing files over your local WiFi? Check. USB On-The-Go? Check. Opening ZIPs and RARs and more? Check.

And all of that for free. No task killer, no fake virus scanner, no dirty Cheetah Mobile tricks.

But then its maker changed its name to "ES Global" and the app got infected with junk. A page full of "recommended apps," a storage cleaning feature that pops up on the startscreen to delete files that you don't want to lose, and spam in your notification bar to make sure you don't miss out on the other spam.

And no way to hide the bloatware. The old ES File Explorer let you set all default startup tabs yourself, exactly the way you wanted them to be. The new ES File Explorer shoves a homescreen in your face that you can't delete anymore.

Unless you're willing to pay to remove some of the added junk. Yep, that's the business model now. First fill your app with spam so nobody trusts you anymore, then ask money to remove what nobody wanted anyway. Those new "features" are just nagscreens to get your money. The possibility to add useful new features (like automatic cloud storage sync, full-blown encrytion, or deleted file recovery) that you can pay to use, rather than pay not to use, somehow escaped ES Global's mind.

And guess what? The "similar apps" section of ES's Play Store entry starts with "File Manager HD" from Cheetah Mobile. Oh, the irony!

The good news? Old versions of ES File Explorer version still let you set your tabs the way you want without startpage spam. Just keep in mind that one day DropBox, Gdrive, OneDrive etc. will update their APIs and the old versions will stop working, or Google will change Android's file permissions system and break things. Until then, get the good old ES File Explorer from

ES File Explorer at (get version (237) or

To tame ES File Explorer, I used Lucky Patcher (MyAndroidTools works too) to switch off the "features" I don't want. Of course you need a rooted Android for this.
Activities: RecommActivity, RecommItemDetailActivity, RecommItemImageViewer, InstallMonitorActivity, UninstallMonitorActivity, AppCheckUpdateList, ESStatisticsActivity, SocialLoginActivity.
Receivers: CampaignReceiver, ShareReceiver, EnableOEMConfig, InstallMonitorReceiver, StartServiceReceiver.

Free alternative:

X-plore (tons of useful features, but only two tabs and a horribly designed user interface)

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