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How Android N will save you money on your monthly data plan

GeneralEdward KiledjianComment
Image by Gord Webster  used under creative commons license

Image by Gord Webster  used under creative commons license

Android N (Nougat) has a handful of new very useful features but nothing catches my attention like a feature that can save you cold hard cash. This witchcraft is a result of a feature called Data Saver. 

One thing most mobile carriers are good at is charging you top dollar for any data overage you incur. This is true whether you are at home and especially abroad. It is true whether you are in Canada, the US or Hong Kong.

Most of the time users don't realize they busted their data cap until it's too late. Overage can happen because of excessive streaming (music or movies) but it can also happen because some apps aggressively update data in the background without you realizing it....

Google wants to help you tame the data monster intelligently. Instead of just reporting on data usage or cutting off data at a certain threshold, Data Saver can prevent background processes from downloading data when on a metered connection. 

Data Saver is a feature that users will have to enable but luckily it isn't an all or nothing option. By turning it on, it prevents almost all background apps from consuming metered data but you can add apps to a whitelist if you want.

There are some apps, by their very design, that must connect in the background to function (think of instant messaging apps, VOIP, etc). For these special cases, developers will be able to ask the user to be added to the whitelist during installation. 

Hopefully developers will make these Android N (Nougat) changes intelligently and modify the operation of their apps to minimize background data usage when they detect Data Saver is enabled but they are granted a slot on the coveted whitelist. Unfortunately we'll see some lazy developers just ask for the permission then continue as usual and hopefully users will uninstall those apps sending a strong signal to the developers.

As a Canadian, I am envious of my american friends on one of those beautiful Sprint or T-Mobile unlimited plans. They can ignore this new feature and continue guzzling huge amounts of glorious data.  For the rest of us, we should turn this feature on immediately. 

My main phone has been an iPhone since the iPhone 3G days (even though I always have other phones available). Until recently, IOS was still superior to Android but not anymore. With the latest changes introduced by Google in Android N (Nougat), I truly feel Android has become a more cutting edge platform and Data Saver is a clear example of that. Hopefully most of you are on devices that will eventually receive Android N. 

I can already see the emails flying in asking what devices will be upgraded. We won't know for sure until a manufacturer publishes a statement but here is my bet:

  • Samsung - Expect most devices since the Samsung Note5/Galaxy S6 to eventually get updated.
  • LG - LG G5 is probably the only one
  • Motorola - All 2016 devices will get upgrade and probably the 2015 Moto G
  • OnePlus - Expect the OnePlus 3 to eventually get updated but don't expect it soon. My guess is sometime mid next year.Don't expect other OnePlus devices to receive Android N
  • ZTE - The ZTE Axon 7 seems to be a huge hit (I'm trying to get one to review). I expect it to receive an Android N update but like the OnePlus 3, I wouldn't expect it soon