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Control which Android apps use background mobile data

Restrict background data in specific Android apps

There are many Android apps that, without your knowledge, will go ahead and connect to your cellular network even when the app is closed. This “background data” can be used even when your device is in standby mode (with the screen turned off), as these apps are constantly checking their servers through the Internet for all sorts of updates and notifications.

Fortunately, it’s very simple to restrict background mobile data for individual apps on your Android phone.

The Data usage section in Android Settings lets you view the amount of data used by each specific app. If you notice an app using more background mobile data than you’d like it to (Snapchat comes to mind), you can restrict it from accessing the Internet till you’re back in a Wi-Fi covered area. If you’re looking to conserve your bandwidth and lower that monthly phone bill, this feature is definitely worth checking out.

Have an iPhone? Here’s how to control which apps use your cellular data.

Restricting background data

How to download Google Maps for offline use

Ting tip

Quick tips to get the most from your phone, your favorite apps and your Ting service. No fluff. Just the tips.


How to download Google Maps

Navigating with Google Maps over a mobile data connection can rack up a hefty amount of usage over a short period of time. Fortunately, Google has hooked us up with a feature that downloads entire regions of Maps over a Wi-Fi connection, letting you complete your journey without having to connect to a cellular network.

The previous version of offline Google Maps would only let you view downloaded regions of a map, which was useful but still required you to connect to the Internet to start a navigation or search for a specific location. Google’s latest update offers a much better offline experience for users. Turn-by-turn navigation, location searches and establishment info can all be accessed without a data connection.

Once you know how to download Google Maps for offline use, you’ll be able to have a smooth, uninterrupted experience even when traveling through a low reception area.

Keep in mind that you can’t save the whole world. That’s Superman’s job. While there’s a limit on the amount of data you can cache, you can save a pretty large area before you hit the max.

How many megabytes are in a gig? Understanding mobile data

What exactly is a megabyte of mobile data? A gigabyte of mobile data? How many emails is that? How many minutes of YouTube video? How many hours of streaming music from the likes of Spotify or Apple Music?

A voice minute is easily understood. After all, we all know what a minute is. Ditto for a text message. Data is a little more difficult to quantify, especially for those new to the world of mobile.

First, let us drop some numbers on you. These numbers come directly from an article on mobile data and are compiled from various carrier estimates of the average smartphone data usage of specific smartphone activities.How many megabytes are in a gig

Five things to do with your old cell phone


If you’ve got an old cell phone collecting dust in a drawer, you are certainly not alone. With hardware upgrade cycles being what they are, we’ve probably all got a few kicking around.

Rather than trashing them or leaving them to collect yet more dust, here are five things you can do with an old device:

Repurpose it

If it’s an older smartphone, there are all kinds of cool projects you can get into. You can turn it into a dedicated media player for in the car. You could make it a dedicated alarm clock. You could turn it into a dedicated VoIP device. These are all simple projects that don’t require any hacking. To really unlock the power of your old smartphone, just Google: “hack (your phone model)” and see what comes up.

Activate it anew

If the phone is still working, you can activate it for yourself or for someone in your family. If you have an eligible device and you’re a Ting customer, you can keep a device active on your account for $6/mo. Just go to the Bring your Device to Ting page and follow the steps there to activate your device.

It’s also not a bad idea to keep a spare, unactivated phone on hand as a backup, just in case something happens to your main device.

Give it away

If your phone still has some life in it but you won’t use it, consider donating it to a charity. Programs like the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Cell Phones for Soliders will find your old (working) phone a new and appreciative home. You can also check with your local shelters to see if they’d like to take the device off your hands.

How Stuff Works has a list of charities that accept cell phones and some interesting insights to share on the subject.

Sell it

If it’s an older phone you’re no longer using but not one that’s obsolete, sell it on. You can sell a device using Glyde or with one of the other used device middleman services.

If you choose to take on the work yourself and sell with eBay, Kijiji or Craigslist you’ll get to keep all of the proceeds of the sale instead of a cut. Whether the hassle is worth the extra money is your call.

Recycle it

If none of the above solutions work for you – perhaps your phone is broken beyond repair or completely obsolete – you’ll have to dispose of it. However, the trash barrel isn’t the right place; it’ll need to be recycled.

There are some less than reputable electronics “recyclers” out there that prey on your good intentions. The best bet is to consult the EPA’s Electronics Donation and Recycling page to find what recycling options are available to you.

Do you have other tips for things to do with a disused mobile device? How many mobile devices do you have collecting dust? Let us know!

You Asked: Transferring texts from iPhone to Android

iphone_androidPlanning on switching from iPhone to Android? No need to jump the gun and purchase expensive recovery software like TransPhone or iPhone Data Recovery. Manually transferring all of your text messages to your new Android device is completely free and easier than you’d expect.

The process does take a few steps, but it’s nothing complicated. If you have the know-how to navigate through your computer’s file system (such as Finder or Windows Explorer), you should be good to go.

Note: You do not have to own both devices at the same time. Just complete step 1 and (most of) 2 while you still have your iPhone, and the last part of step 2, along with steps 3 and 4 once you’ve picked up your Android device.