Latest versions of Android Marketplace allow you to force all apps to update over Wi-Fi only, saving your expensive mobile data allowance. Older versions never had a global setting to make your apps update via Wi-Fi only. Therefore, if you had set automatic app updates on, those updates would often be downloaded via your mobile connection when you were out and about.
If you have a lot of apps (especially games or maps) which update frequently, this could use up a big chunk of your precious monthly allowance and turn out to be quite costly. An easy way to preserve your mobile data for your own use is to force all apps to update via Wi-Fi instead (assuming you have access to a wireless network of course).
Thankfully, the 3.3.11 update to Android Marketplace last month added this essential functionality – and it continues in the current version today. If you have not already changed settings to take advantage of app updates via wireless, read on for a simple guide.
To Make Apps Update Via Wi-Fi Only – open the Market app then press the Menu button and then Settings. In the General Settings you should see the options below:
- Tick ‘Auto-update apps’ if you want apps to auto-update (recommended).
- Tick ‘Update over Wi-Fi only’ to force apps to update over wireless only in future, not your mobile connection, thereby saving mobile data usage.
That’s it! From now on, updates to apps should never be downloaded unless you are connected to a wireless network – so they can’t use up your data allowance
Updated April 2013: a reader noted that even if this setting is turned on, if you lose your wireless connection it can still be possible for some updates to be downloaded using your mobile data.
Here is what I think happens – the checking for updates can only start whilst you are connected to a wireless network. So far so good. The checking finds several available updates and queues them up for subsequent download one at a time – which is still ok. The problem arises if you then move out of wireless range (e.g. leave home) before all those queued updates have actually been downloaded – they may then be downloaded via your mobile data connection.
It appears that the ‘Update over Wi-Fi only’ setting only controls the “checking” for downloads, not the downloads themselves. Therefore, if your wifi disconnects after auto-update finds some updates, the actual downloads may continue on 3G/4G because they are already queued up.
If you find this is a frequent problem (e.g. you always switch your phone on just before leaving the house), there are two solutions:
1. Untick ‘Auto-update apps’ until you’re definitely in wifi range with a good signal then tick it and leave until all updates are complete then untick it again – this works but is not an elegant solution…
2. Turn the phone on for longer (e.g. 15+ minutes) before you leave the house so that any updates found have time to fully download.