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Android Nougat gives you even more ways to save cellular data

Update, March 2017: Updated with the latest information and changes.

While Android has long been able to restrict certain apps' access to background data on a cellular connection, Android Nougat adds a new feature that makes it easier to cut down on your data consumption when necessary.

Data Saver is a new mode that can be toggled in quick settings under the notification shade, or found under Settings > Data usage. When enabled, apps that aren't whitelisted are prevented from using cellular data in the background, and according to Google's developer documentation apps will also be signalled to consume less data when they're actively being used.

Pick and choose which apps get unrestricted data access in Data Saver mode.

When Data Saver is turned on, Android displays a "pause" icon in the status bar. You'll also see a message at the top of the Settings app in Android Nougat informing you that it's enabled.

The settings menu for Data Saver lets you control which apps get to use "unrestricted" data when this mode is enabled — by default, the only whitelisted app is Google Play Services, which makes sense given the importance of this low-level app.

Generous cellular data bundles are something many in the West take for granted, however, this new Android feature could be a big deal in some developing markets, where data quotas may be more restrictive. Those that regularly travel to foreign soils may also benefit from Data Saver feature, as background usage can quickly eat through precious roaming data allowances.

Jerry Hildenbrand
Jerry Hildenbrand

Jerry is an amateur woodworker and struggling shade tree mechanic. There's nothing he can't take apart, but many things he can't reassemble. You'll find him writing and speaking his loud opinion on Android Central and occasionally on Twitter.

34 Comments
  • This looks really useful. Posted via the Android Central App
  • This is for when you want specific apps to run and not others.
  • This is essentially breaking out the data limiting component of battery saver mode, with some improvements and without all the other battery saver stuff. Useful, definitely Posted via the Android Central App
  • Great! Can't wait to try it in..... 3 years. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Haha that's exactly how I feel Posted via the Android Central App
  • Yep same **** different year. Posted from my Nexus 6/Nexus 7 2013/Surface Pro 3
  • lol
  • "Generous cellular data bundles are something many in the West take for granted" I value every expensive GB I use here in Canada.
  • I guess I will have to eventually trade in my Note 4 Posted via the Android Central App
  • Neva! Posted via the Android Central App
  • Fi users will appreciate this. In fact, I'm betting Fi is the primary motivation for this. Posted via the Android Central App
  • As a new Fi user who just switched from an AT&T family plan with an ungodly data allotment that we never even came close to using, I agree with you wholeheartedly. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Definitely makes sense for Fi users, but this is something a lot of people around the world will find very useful when they're on a restricted mobile data plan. Far more addressable people than just Fi customers.
  • I have Unlimited data with Verizon, nice feature for many, just not for me.
  • Just upgraded my DT2 to Marshmallow -- and I like it. I couldn't imagine using Android before Lollipop. Another couple of revisions and Android will FINALLY be something to truly reckon with.
  • I don't think this feature is available on Marshmallow
  • I'm using data saver on my 6P with Project Fi. Let's see if it makes a difference by the end of my billing cycle. Posted via the Android Central App
  • This sounds awesome!
  • What phone is in the article picture? Nexus 5X?
  • Essential as Android (well Google) and other apps on the platform are very data hungry at default setting. I recently had to switch to Android from WP 8.1. Apart from the disappointment of seeing how immature Android feels and handles compared to Windows, I noticed the mobile data consumption is roughly 3-4 times what I had on Windows. This while I'm extra careful and conscious of the risks of unforeseen data usage, as it's a new platform for me. I used about 25-50MB per month (of my 200 MB bundle) and never checking my usage. Now after twelve days in March, I'm at just over 100MB.
    Telling is also that the Mobile data overview (as accessed from Quick Actions) shows this as '0.1 GB' and not '10x MB' this indicates Google assumes a multi GB bundle is normal. Because with a 200MB (or anything up to 1GB) limit, this makes it a guessing game instead of a user oriented tool. If the counter jumps to 0.2 GB I can't simply tell if I have any MB left, or I'm over my bundle already.
    Also a nice kick in the backside is if you toggle the mobile data limit on Marshmallow, it resets to 5GB. Yet it does manage to remember your warning limit. Generally I feel Google's Android is very much consumption centered. Consume more date, more power, more pushy in-app ads (or suggestions), more data harvesting. This in stark contrast to Windows, that feels far more user centered. Microsoft works to give you a personal experience that works for you, not the other way around.
    Of course it's not all bad with Android. I bridged my 1 app, app gap. And I gained some extra features on a few apps. Plus I can now run Kodi on my phone.
    (Tip; if you use Kodi on your phone and other devices with central storage, use a MySQL database to sync your library. I'ts slower than local library's, but you can stop watching on one device and resume on another another. Also watched status is always up to date.)
  • If only someone made a Windows phone I wanted to own. Initially, I thought the HP X3 would be that phone because it looked like a direct rip of the Nexus 6. But a crap camera, crap B&O audio, and HP enterprise/cloud/desktop priorities killed it.
  • Sitting here on N and didn't even know about this. I don't need it but very cool tool to have.
  • Too bad my sprint HTC One M9 has not been updated to nougat yet
  • Dont need N to do this. In app manager just toggle on or off the restrict background data option for each app
  • Was thinking the same thing. Are we missing something?
  • I think it really comes down to a UI change really. With Data Saver, everything is restricted by default, saving you have to walk through all your apps and restrict them. Instead, you whitelist the apps you don't want to restrict. One advantage is that any new apps you install are automatically restricted.
  • You folks just need to switch to T-Mobile. Unlimited EVERYTHING for 2 people for $100. Also ending this weekend 3 people for $100, still unlimited everything.
  • Including unlimited no signal outside of many major cities 😉
  • Yep, and slow international data speeds. Oh and lowered bit rate music and lower resolution videos along with skirting net neutrality. You keep it, I'll stick with Fi for when I'm overseas and can use data at LTE speeds for the same $10/1GB as her in the states.
  • Switch to T-Mobile? I would have a small issue with having to walk 1/4 mile from my home to get a signal. Otherwise, it sounds like a great idea. These Cure All Problems posts rarely take factors for other people into account.
  • I did not know that the last day for the third free T-Mobile line was today March 5, 2017. Thank you.
  • It's a good function. I throttle most things I don't use and block them at the firewall. It saves battery too things not constantly connecting and trying to synch...
  • Yeah. This is useful 😏
  • I'm currently paying $115 per month for 20GB of shared data for 2 lines. While the unlimited data is enticing, the price goes up to $155. I'll set alerts for 8.0 GB on each line and then turn on the Data Saver. Thanks for the info.