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.

There are 22 comments

major payne says:

Learning something New almost everyday. To bad my phone won't be getting 4.1 Thx for the info though

hrw2 says:

You forgot that some phones HAVE menu button and do not display three dots ;)

jean15paul says:

We don't speak of THOSE phones. :)

jean15paul says:

Nice. Who knew?

I guess this is like Android 201 (instead of 101).

wunderbar says:

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.

Deeco says:

Cool, never knew this!, thanks for the tip!

Eerth says:

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.)

danperde says:

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.

Jacques says:

Nice! Knowing this now can restrict data usage when, say my kids are using the tablet. :)

DJxDARIENx says:

So is this complete free? Or am I miss reading something

KwietStorm says:

Its just a menu setting. How you use the data connection or who's data you use is another story.

Small_law says:

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.

HubyD says:

Nice to know, thanks :)

Ommadawn says:

Very handy tip! Thank you!

SDB1 says:

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.

kenyee says:

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

agcam says:

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.

DarrenAustAE says:

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?

Silverleaves says:

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?

animalrsqr5 says:

Excuse this is not a reply.

How do you know you have a mobile hotspot?

animalrsqr5 says:

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.

Omid Jodari says:

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