Android Central

There are many reasons why you might want to use a mobile hotspot with an Android device. Maybe you're using a tablet without a mobile data connection of its own. Perhaps you're traveling overseas and hoping to avoid data roaming charges. Either way, Android 4.1 comes with well-hidden option that lets you properly mark mobile access points -- we're talking something other than your home router or the AP in Starbucks -- as mobile hotspots, allowing you to better control your use of mobile data.

Take a look after the break.

Before we begin, it's worth noting that if you're tethering one Jelly Bean (Android 4.1+) device to another, the connecting device will already know that it's hooked up to a hotspot versus a more robust access point. Provided both devices are running 4.1 or higher, Android handles all that stuff behind the scenes, meaning there's no need to manually add Wifi names.

But if you're connecting to a Mifi or a non-Android phone, you'll need to tell Android that you're connected to a mobile hotspot. This option is tucked away under Settings > Data usage. From there, hit the three dots in the top right corner (or the menu key, if you have one), and press "Mobile Hotspots." Next you'll be presented with a list of saved wireless networks, and you can check the ones which are mobile hotspots.

Android Central

Once you've done this, Android will know it should limit data usage on these mobile networks in certain ways. For example: music streaming apps might not download so much in the background, and any mobile data restrictions you've set for certain apps will apply when you're on the tethered connection too.

It's a small step, but one that's not too obvious, and one that can help you avoid burning through a Mifi or tethered phone's data allowance.


Reader comments

How to tag Wifi access points as mobile hotspots on your Android device


Fantastic tip. I use a mifi to tether my phone for data access when I travel to the US from Canada, and have always had to be super careful to turn off things like instant upload.

Wow, Windows should have something like that to, I'm always afraid Dropbox will do one massive sync just when I'm tethering from my phone (e.g.)

If you are running Windows 8, it has that option, under network settings, and it's called "metered connection". You can enable/disable it for each individual connection.

I've never once touched this setting, but across my Nexus devices, it was already set up perfectly with the hotspots I've used when i checked. Really nice feature.

Man I wish I would have seen an article like this a week earlier. I just lost $35 on an AT&T MiFi restocking fee when I couldn't figure out how to switch the MiFi to a mobile connection instead of WiFi and burned through all my mobile data in two days. Oh well. I guess I have to buy the thing all over again.

One big problem is Google's Play Store doesn't pay attention to this.
It does auto app updates even though you're connected to a metered wifi hotspot, and some of the newer apps are huge :-P

In January I bought a new Samsung Note II (AT&T). It contains an SD slot. However, there is no way to enter any data onto it or retrieve data entered from another Samsung phone. Is Samsung planning to release software to make SD cards accessible? The Note II doesn't contain much storage space, and
I wasn't informed about this when I bought the phone from AT&T. It would be helpful to have the extra storage space without deleting other important data, especially since there is an SD slot.

Does an app need to be coded in such a way so that it will restrict usage when this setting is used or is it simply managed by the os?

My no-name Android (from China website) connects fine to my home and other Wi-Fi, but refuses to connect to an iPhone4 hotspot even though it recognises that it is there. Do I need SW, HW or a new tablet to fix the problem?

How do you know you have a "mobile hotspot"? If a name shows up in that Wifi area,does it mean that is a Hotspot? What are the symbols over to the right. There are different ones? Thank you.

i buy this tablet :
my tablet dont have e simcard so i dont have hotspot , tethering , blutooth
my android is 4.1.1
in data usage i have e mbile hotspot
but i cant use that !!!
i wanna send e file from my tablet to friend's tablet via wifi
but all of the wifi program need e tethering or hotspot
i wanna sender just have e program and reciever dont need to program .
mean, program install in sender's tablet .
plz help me .
sry for my bad english